Grad 2024: Internships as a route to self-knowledge

05 Jul 2024

Vionna Fiducia, a Year Four BA Media and Communication Studies student, shows the reporter the images on her phone – digital mementos that include her time as an undergraduate at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). Each picture tells a story, a testament to her university life.

Some stories are happier than others.

Like others at XJTLU, Fiducia was caught abroad during the pandemic. Beginning in 2020, she studied online from her family home in Indonesia and later took a gap year, finally returning to China last spring.

Fiducia began using internships to enrich her online study. Now about to graduate, she’s logged four internships doing varied work for employers located in China, the US, and Indonesia, and will hold a fifth this summer. She says that besides employment skills, work-study opened her eyes to diverse fields and taught her the importance of self-discovery.

“These internships have allowed me to reflect on what I truly like, or at the very least, what I don’t like. They have helped me better understand myself,” she says.

Vionna Fiducia

Taking initiative

Fiducia spent her first semester in 2019 enjoying new experiences in China and settling in at XJTLU. When she returned to Indonesia for the Spring Festival holiday in early 2020, she didn’t expect that her departure would mark the beginning of a three-year separation.

As borders were closed, flights cancelled, and quarantine measures imposed, she found herself unable to return to campus. Fiducia tried to look at the bright side.

“I believe there’s always something for me to learn, and I held that belief even during the pandemic,” she says. “I didn’t want it to prevent me from pursuing my dreams. I saw it as an opportunity to gain something new and unique.”

Fiducia started searching for online internship opportunities. A news article about XJTLU’s University Marketing and Communications (UMC) office receiving a public relations award sparked an idea.

“I emailed UMC directly and asked if they needed any assistance. I expressed interest in writing articles, and I asked about the possibility of interning online with them,” she says. “To my surprise, they were open to the idea, and that’s how I became an intern. It all started with an email.”

Brand campaign beginnings

Over the next six months, Fiducia worked as an editorial intern at UMC. Remotely, she conducted interviews with students and staff, wrote several news articles, and honed her skills in translation and news writing.

“It provided me with a lot of practical experiences and knowledge in media and communication,” she says.

But the internship wasn’t smooth sailing at the beginning, and she used to spend hours transcribing the interview recordings manually.

“I remember the long hours spent in front of my desk transcribing audio recordings. It was very time-consuming. I knew there had to be a better way, so I searched for tools that could make my life easier.

“Then I found an app called Otter, and it transformed my workflow. Otter is very efficient and accurate in transcribing recordings. It saved me a lot of time and effort,” Fiducia says.

Fiducia interning from home in Indonesia in 2021

One day, her manager mentioned an interest in launching a brand campaign in Indonesia, but said she was having difficulty reaching media contacts.

Fiducia thought she could help.

“Although at that time I didn’t know exactly what I needed to do, I suggested that if I could have some time, maybe I could form a team and collaborate on brand efforts in Indonesia,” she recalls.

Fiducia recruited now alumnae Semaya Rahardjo, as a media partner coordinator intern, and Michelle Lionard (known among students for her YouTube videos about life at XJTLU) as a content writer intern. Fiducia led the team and was the primary point of contact with UMC.

The three researched the Indonesian market and potential media partners, then strategised a comprehensive brand campaign. In 2021, they published an advertorial on leading online news platform Kompas that performed 40% better than the platform’s average article, a creative spot on Prambors radio that performed 212% better than Prambors’ average spot, and posts for Mustang FM’s social media.

Fiducia is quick to credit all those who played a part. “I truly appreciate all my team members and UMC. And I’m so grateful for the support we received on this journey,” she says.

The XJTLU brand campaign in Indonesia has continued every year since via new intern teams and recently received a CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Circle of Excellence Award and a Best of CASE Asia-Pacific 2022-2023 award.

Reflecting on the collective success of the intern teams, Fiducia says: “This award is a testament to our dedication and hard work. It also motivates me to push boundaries, make a positive impact, and achieve even greater things in the future.”

Persistence pays off 

In addition to the UMC internship, Fiducia worked as a Business Development Associate Intern at The China Project (known then as SupChina) in 2021 and as Social Media Manager at UBURUBURU.Co, her own startup company, in the same year. The company combines art and business to sell illustrated merchandise, such as keychains and PopSockets, and it ended up donating 10 million IDR (around 600 USD) to the Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia.

In 2022, she interned online as a Storyboard Artist at Aniwayang Studio, an Indonesian animation company based in Shanghai. Her work included directing and editing four episodes of “Desa Timun” (“Cucumber Village”), the first puppet animation in Indonesia. The series won the official selection at the Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival in 2023.

Desa Timun homepage. Credit:

After returning to China in the spring of 2023, she checked job portals, networked with professionals, and attended XJTLU job fairs, eventually landing an internship as a Human Resources Specialist at ZW HR Consulting in Shanghai for the summer.

This academic year, she actively sought a post-graduation summer internship, including sending around 100 cold-call messages on LinkedIn. Her persistence paid off with an editorial internship at Jing Daily, a news outlet based in Shanghai that focuses on China’s luxury industry.

From left to right: Ulzii-Uchral Batbayar, Vionna Fiducia, Valienza Lietama, and Yihsuan Chang, all XJTLU students and friends in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in 2024

Fiducia advises students to use internships to evaluate their interests before entering the professional world.

“Internships give us the chance to test the waters, and can help us make more informed decisions when looking for jobs,” she says. “Without these experiences, I think it’d be difficult to confidently choose a career path, at least for me.”

A lifelong learner

Vionna Fiducia participated in the Jing Daily China Luxury Summit in Shanghai in 2024

When Fiducia came to XJTLU, she was drawn to the University’s emphasis on students developing an international mindset and becoming global citizens.

Fiducia says: “I sometimes wondered, ‘What should I do with these values after graduation?’ Now, I’m graduating. And I think my answer to the question would be ‘keep learning’.

“University is more than just choosing a programme and getting good grades. And I think XJTLU provides an environment that nurtures lifelong learning and empowers us to learn new things. This is probably the most valuable lesson I have gained from my university experience.”

Vionna Fiducia presenting in the Critical Issues in Marketing class in Year Four



By Xinmin Han
Edited by Tamara Kaup and Patricia Pieterse
Photos courtesy of Vionna Fiducia

05 Jul 2024


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