"Work experience and knowledge from another culture were important reasons for why I got a permanent position after completing my studies”.
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Master’s student Christine Bruhn from the Master's Programme in Business Administration at UiA recommends her stay in Jakarta, Indonesia. She spent the autumn semester of 2017 there together with Ragnhild Grimstad, also from the master’s programme, as exchange students at the country’s largest university, Universitas Gadjah Mada. They also got 300 hours of work practice at Norwegian organisations there: Christine Bruhn at the paint manufacturer Jotun and Ragnhild Grimstad at Innovation Norway.
Bruhn and Grimstad have already secured themselves a job several months prior to graduating from the programme.
They believe that their exchange period and work practice were important reasons for why they were chosen by their new employer; the international accounting firm EY.
“During the job interview, I received positive feedback on having both the cultural experience that a stay abroad provides and having worked in an international organisation. In addition, it was important to be able to handle English as a business language,” says Bruhn.
Exchange and work practice is possible in the Master's Programme in Business Administration at The School of Business and Law at UiA. The students can spend one semester at the university’s partner institutions in either Tanzania, India, China or Indonesia. The arrangement is not mandatory, and the students are chosen after application and interview.
Anders Bohlin highly approves of the work practice arrangement for UiA students. He is the managing director of Jotun’s branch in Indonesia which has 700 employees and a turnover of around NOK 1 billion. Every autumn, two Norwegian students are getting work practice at Jotun.
“The students get to convert theory into practice. They get great insight into how it is to work in an international company. They get to experience the cultural element by having work practice in a foreign country, and they get a new perspective of the concept of time,” says Bohlin.
Bruhn and her student colleague Linn Aarsten were given the task of making a survey about customer satisfaction in the house paint market in Indonesia, one of Jotun’s four strategic areas there.
“The analyses that are done are of real use to us, and the students bring so much energy into our work environment. They have been well-integrated in Jotun and have become fine ambassadors for us. A real win-win situation,” says Bohlin.
Building relations is important in Indonesian business life. Most business deals start with a personal connection.
“We have practiced mingling a lot, and we learned a lot about networking,” says Grimstad who spent her work practice period at Innovation Norway. There, she participated in weekly diplomat meetings at the embassy, and assisted in arranging a number of conferences.
Many of the students that choose to have a work practice period abroad also use their stay to gather material for their master’s theses.
“We greatly enjoy and benefit from having work practice students who write their master’s theses about topics here from Indonesia,” says Fredrik Bjerke Abdelmaguid, director of Innovation Norway in Indonesia and commercial counsellor at the embassy.”
“During out stay in Indonesia, we were inspired to write about waste management and the economy in the waste business. Not only do we notice the large effect waste has on the environment, as economists we also notice the financial impact,” says Grimstad and Bruhn who are writing their master’s thesis together.
On the other side of the wall of Innovation Norways’s office in Jakarta, is ambassador Vegard Kaale. He has only been an ambassador for six months but has worked for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 27 years.
From his window in his office up high, he looks out over the business district of Jakarta, a city of around 15 million inhabitants and capital of the world’s fourth most densely populated country.
“Indonesia’s role as a global market participant is constantly growing larger, and its ambition is becoming one of the wealthiest countries in the world by 2030. Through exchange and work practice here, you can become capable of understanding Asian business culture and create personal relations that may become important, whether you choose a career abroad or in Norway,” says Kaale.