Demystifying CIPS’ EPLP 2022 Journey

January 16, 2022, was the day I got accepted into the CIPS EPLP Trainee Program. I would not be exaggerating if I said that everything happened at such a rapid pace. The entire hiring process took less than 2 weeks if I remember correctly. Nevertheless, I was one of the lucky few ones, competing with hundreds of other young professionals.


The first week was challenging, yet packed with meaningful experiences as we worked entirely online and had to get to know each other and work together as a group - virtually. In that same week, we were exposed to meeting after meetings after meetings, from CIPS introduction and onboarding to the Think20 (T20) Task Force (TF4)'s series of online briefings.


This "sat-set-sat-set" (Indonesian slang for fast and agile) style of work illustrated the value of carefully prioritizing tasks. I quickly learned that I needed to stay one step ahead of the process and constantly refine my vision for the next steps of our work.


At the end of January, we were assigned to liaise with each respective TF4 co-chair (nine co-chairs in total), while at the same time working to bring everything to the table for the T20's TF4 Co-chairs Kick-off meeting.


Moreover, the EPLP was also introduced to the Agriculture Unit's Food Monitor (FM) project, which is tasked with regularly monitoring strategic agricultural commodities, their prices, availability, and regulatory framework.


Ultimately, we had to produce the annual FM report on key commodities, which required a series of interviews with experts and months of data collection as well as internal reviews.


To navigate EPLP's research interest, we were assigned to a specific "home" unit, one of the four core CIPS research units – Food Trade, Agriculture, Education, and Economic Opportunity (a rebrand of Community Livelihood).


As interesting as the other units are, being assigned to the Economic Opportunity (Ecopp) team was the perfect choice for me. Also, the Ecopp research unit covers topics that appeal to me the most, such as digital economy, cybersecurity, data protection, and co-regulation in the digital domain to name a few.


At the end of February, I became involved in my first project with the Ecopp team. It was a virtual workshop on a CIPS policy paper on content moderation, to which several government ministries and agencies, including the ICT Ministry, were invited.


In the same week, I also had to interview key informants and stakeholders for the drafting process of the FM report mentioned earlier.


In the months that followed, a series of EPLP training was held involving experts from CIPS internally and external trainers from the Think Policy Society. Needless to say, the intensive training provided an excellent learning opportunity for myself and the other trainees.


It not only taught us basic policy skills but also how to effectively and persuasively present alternative policy ideas to policymakers and the general public.

It not only taught us basic policy skills but also how to effectively and persuasively present alternative policy ideas to policymakers and the general public.


I also had the privilege to be part of CIPS' flagship conference, and one of the largest of its kind: DigiWeek Conference 2022! DigiWeek serves as a platform for stakeholders from the government, academia, and industry to exchange ideas and engage in meaningful dialogue about important topical issues in the digital economy.


The experience, ranging from crafting ToRs, preparing and sending out invitations, and attending countless meetings and briefings, was indeed valuable learning in developing event management skills.


On top of that, DigiWeek and other engagement platforms (FGDs, RTDs, advocacy work, etc.) that I have been working with over the past few months, opened up a whole new perspective on the work of think tanks.


We observed how a think tank accommodates public-private dialogue while engaging the media, academia, and the general public in the discourse. In this way, I believe we can achieve greater outreach and to ensure we consider the devolved dimensions of key policy issues.


Aside from the serious part, I am also grateful that CIPS organized an amazing "me-time" Outing event, inviting all CIPSies, including us EPLP trainees.


The bonding experience was unforgettable and incomparable. I enjoyed every bit of it: the food and BBQ of course, the game night and card games, the sharing sessions, the off-road driving experience and challenging terrain, and the entire road trip from Jakarta to Bandung and back!


Joining CIPS’ annual EPLP training program during an unprecedented time brought on by the post-pandemic was a privilege in itself. My nine months in the program helped me develop many critical soft and hard skills.


I also became more familiar with public policy research methods, regulatory framework, key stakeholder mapping, and greatly expanded my technical skills in Microsoft Suites, Google Workspace, and other online team collaboration tools (Miro, Mentimeter, etc.).


The CIPS EPLP program has been quite a dynamic journey for me. I started with a blank sheet of paper with nearly zero experience in the policy world, let alone the Indonesian policy landscape.


I acquired a wealth of knowledge in a relatively short period of time while keeping up to date with the work of CIPS. This unique experience was indeed a win-win self-development phase. The intellectually stimulating and supportive environment makes CIPS one of the best places to kickstart your career in the world of public policy!


I close this short reading with a big thank you to my fellow EPLP teammates as well as all CIPS staff who have been very helpful, inspiring, and patient in training us, trainees.


Not to forget to mention the trainers and experts who have been part of the training program and the decent donor(s) who actively supported the progressive work of CIPS. And lastly, to every single person who showed me what it means to work with passion, thank you!


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