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EPLP: Broadened My knowledge and Professional Network

Being part of the Emerging Policy Leaders Program of the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) in 2022 was an amazing and rewarding experience.

It is quite rare for a think-tank or a research organisation of this calibre to offer a traineeship like this – one that provides selected applicants with exposure, mentorship and a great career path in the field. Thus, I am truly privileged to have been part of it despite my short time at CIPS.

I worked alongside other researchers who are very accomplished and passionate about transforming Indonesia’s agriculture, education and digital sectors. I also contributed to several ongoing projects at CIPS.

No two days were the same. For the trainees, including myself, the work was varied and there were always new and exciting challenges! At the Food Trade Division, where I was assigned, I was able to continue delving into the topic of free and fair trade, as well as broaden my knowledge on other trade-related issues.

I was also very fortunate to be under the supervision of Felippa Amanta, CIPS Head of Research and Head of the Food Trade Division at the time, whose research focuses on the effects of non-tariff barriers on Indonesia’s economy and the food and agriculture sector, among others. This aligned with my own research interests and aspirations.

One of the highlights for me was managing the section’s flagship project, Index Bu RT and supervising weekly entries as well as the monthly analysis drafted by our bright interns. Furthermore, I also led the team in formulating the new methodology, in consultation with my supervisor and other senior colleagues.

Although a bit nerve-wracking for me, it was nonetheless very thrilling to try to work on a new methodology and use my problem-solving skills. The inclusion of a healthy and balanced diet into the Index focus in addition to affordability reflected CIPS’ strive for innovation and long-standing commitment to improving the policy sphere through its projects.

Not only did this opportunity allow me to sharpen my research skills, but also my leadership skills. Besides executing tasks in the Food Trade Section, I also had the opportunity to work together with researchers from other divisions on the Food Monitor Report 2021 on Rice.

Being able to gain insights through interviews with multiple stakeholders, including smallholder farmers allowed me to better understand the market structure of this commodity, as well as the way forward for the sector.

CIPS provides a stimulating and welcoming environment for aspiring young researchers like me. The organisation felt very non-hierarchical, thus creating a tight-knit group with a strong sense of camaraderie.

Supervisors were always happy to discuss the projects that you are working on and offered useful feedback. The training programs provided in EPLP were also very comprehensive. They ranged from writing, communication, social media, and fundraising – skills crucial for a successful career in think tanks.

Through this program, I also broadened my professional network and met some of my now good friends – my fellow trainees.


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