Angela Dewan, Journalist
Angela grew up in Sydney where she studied music, Spanish and journalism at university. With no background in Indonesian studies, with the exception of the obligatory trip to Bali as a child, Angela was lured to Indonesia for a four-week internship at the Jakarta post through ACICIS’s Journalism Professional Practicum. Five years later, much to her surprise, Angela finds herself still in Indonesia. Angela took some time out to answer some questions from the AIYA team.
Tell us a little about your job?
I am an Indonesia correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP), which is an international news agency, the world’s oldest, in fact. My job involves covering the country’s major news stories for our international audience. We cover general news. We report on a lot of disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes and plane crashes. We also cover trends in the economy, environmental news and there are always quirky things going on here that our subscribers like.
Do you use your Indonesian language skills in your current job?
Absolutely. I speak Indonesian every day, and I’m not sure how anyone could report here without it, or a full-time translator. But I’m lucky that even quite senior officials are usually very patient with my Anglo-Indonesian!
How did you find your current job?
I had been freelancing as a journalist in Indonesia for two years before I got this job. I had previously done a two-week internship with AFP, and I really enjoyed it, so I always kept it in the back of my head as I freelanced and I stayed in touch with the bureau chief and deputy chief. Eventually, AFP agreed to take a couple of features a month from me, which was a small foot in the door. I heard there was a position opening in Hong Kong on their editing desk, so I took a holiday there and dropped into the office to meet with the head of the region there. Not long after that, they offered me a job in the Jakarta bureau. So I guess it took me two years and a trip to Hong Kong, but I finally got what I wanted!
Why do you think you were successful in getting your current job?
I think as a journalist it’s important to keep getting your name out there on good solid stories. When you do that, people in the journalism community start to notice, and keep you in mind for jobs. So that’s what I did for two years — I just learned by doing and was lucky to have some good editors along the way who gave me constructive feedback. It was very challenging starting as a freelancer from scratch, but after a while, people started to see my stories and the work came more easily.
What do you enjoy the most about working and living in Indonesia?
I love the stories here. There are so many interesting facets to this country. While it can sometimes feel like the country is stagnating politically, there are a lot of inspiring people doing amazing work on the ground to make sure Indonesia progresses. I also love the people here. Indonesians are so warm and they always make me smile after a long day.
Any advice for someone trying to get a start in Indonesia?
Do it! You have nothing to lose by coming here. I don’t think you can ever predict what a stint overseas will bring, but the one thing that young expats here seem unanimous on is that there are so many opportunities. Indonesia is growing rapidly, and there is a shortage of native English speakers to fill various roles. It’s only going to get bigger, so starting young in Indonesia and getting a grasp on the language is a smart move. Looking back at how I got my own start in Indonesia, I might have been bolder from the beginning. I spent a lot of my time freelancing locked up in my room trying to write stories and not really networking. I now understand the importance of getting yourself out and about, meeting new people and keeping your ear to the ground. At the end of the day, there’s nothing to lose by giving it a go, and if you don’t love it, you can always move on.
Got a question for Angela? Drop her a line at [email protected].