It could lead you to a new country
Patrick Stafrace studied Arts and Commerce at Deakin University, majoring in Journalism and Business Analytics. But while Patrick initially had his eyes on journalism, starting his career as a radio broadcaster and online journalist in Melbourne, his official internship through university began in 2016 at the global communications and marketing firm Edelman in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Although Patrick didn’t major in public relations, the strategic side of the business caught his imagination when, during a Skype interview with his soon to be mentors, he was introduced to the work they do for clients like the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Journalists are often recruited by the industry for their strong communication and networking skills, but Patrick says that it was his broad academic background and his willingness to learn that got him over the line.
“Most graduates and interns are recruited so that they can be developed into professionals, so a positive attitude is crucial. But also, the industry is in a state of constant flux, so an ability to move between disciplines is a plus,” he says.
Patrick was one of three Deakin students who received a New Colombo Scholarship that year, allowing him to travel and support himself for four months. In addition to his internship, he also went through a professional development programme which allowed him to engage directly with senior Southeast Asian business people and government officials. He also took private Bahasa Indonesian lessons in his spare time.
During his internship, Patrick worked at the International Affairs division helping foreign governments, NGOs and private companies engage with Southeast Asian audiences. He emphasises the diversity and scale of the challenges that came with the role as the most rewarding part.
“Working abroad tests you intellectually. The differences between audiences in Australia are small compared to countries like Indonesia so, from a communications perspective, everything from the messages you use to the behaviours of your audience changes frequently.”
Patrick highlights the interpersonal and communication skills he developed after four months interning abroad as the most rewarding outcome. By adapting to a new set of standards and cultural norms, Patrick came out the other end as a well-rounded professional with enhanced problem-solving skills.
“You will be surprised how beneficial an international experience like interning can be to your career. It can demonstrate to employers that you can adapt to different environments,” he says
Patrick is the perfect example of the benefits that can come from seizing an opportunity that is outside of your comfort zone. Aside from Indonesia there are many other opportunities for students to undertake internships in other countries and in remote parts of Australia.
“Always try to step outside of your comfort zone – wherever you go. I didn’t just stay in my nook, I engaged with the whole office, I built relationships and I tried to find any way I could add value to our projects.”
“Demonstrate to your supervisor that you’re there to learn, produce quality materials, build relationships with stakeholders and understand the business you’re in. You want them to feel supported and you’ll receive guidance in return,” he adds.
Patrick is now accelerating his career as an international business professional after securing a full-time role at Edelman Indonesia. He plans to return to Melbourne in late 2018.