Dara Haspramudilla

Dara Haspramudilla

Postgraduate Research Student

Degree: Master of Public Relations and Advertising & Master of Public Policy and Governance

Current Position: Communications Strategist, Indonesian Ministry of Finance

1. What attracted you to studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW?

When I considered studying in Australia, UNSW was not my first option. When filling the form from Australia Awards Indonesia (AAI) I had originally put another university instead. Upon attending Uni Day with AAI, I met with a UNSW representative who spoke Indonesian. She explained the different major and double degree programs to me. Following this conversation, reading the handbook and learning more about the path in Public Relations and Advertising as well as Policy and Governance, I changed my preferences to go to UNSW, as I believed it was the best decision I could make based on the information I had. I was excited to be able to join UNSW and I thought everything happened for a reason – from me meeting the representative, to learning about the double degree and Public Relations major. 

2. Did you always have a clear idea of what you wanted to do after completing your degree? 

When making the decision to come to UNSW in 2015, it had been six years since I had completed my undergraduate degree and was then working as a Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Finance. After a few years working in this field, I felt like it would be beneficial to further my understanding in my line of work. This was the main reason why I wanted to pursue my masters’. My plans were to return to work after the completion of my degree, with the hope my increased knowledge and skills would assist me in contributing even more.

Sure, I did. My intention to study at UNSW was related to my current position. In 2015, it had been six years since my bachelor degree in Broadcast Journalism. Not long after my bachelor degree graduation, I worked as a Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Finance. Being in the practical field for about five years, I felt that I needed more in-depth understanding of my field of work. It is the main reason why I wanted to pursue a master's degree. I made plans to return to work after completing my degree, hoping that my increased knowledge and skills would contribute more to my institution. 

3. How did your time at UNSW help shape who you are today? 

I am glad that my time at UNSW was not only spent attending class and studying, but also developing networks. The Student Development International at UNSW really paid attention to its international students. It offered many enrichment programs during our study time. One of the programs that I joined was the Language Exchange. It was not only a program where we taught fellow students our language but also learnt about each other's culture. I feel that UNSW is a university that embraces differences, and it reflects on its environment as well as the attitude of its lecturers and students. As a student who wore a hijab, I feel that the UNSW environment was conducive. I always regret that I did not make UNSW my first choice. For me, studying at UNSW was one of the best moments in my life. Learning at UNSW not only gave me a double Master’s degree but also made my mind more open and tolerant to others. 

4. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help you develop transferable skills? 

I think all the assignments (both individual and in a team) given to me helped me a lot to prepare myself. The individual assignments improved my critical thinking, creativity and assisted me in developing well-reasoned arguments. The team assignments taught me an important skill for my work such as achieving a shared goal, working with people who have different personalities, sharing responsibility, collaborating and listening to each other’s ideas.  

5. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help form your view on the world and the contemporary issues we face today? 

After two years studying at UNSW, with two different majors, I think that I learnt from the best source - i.e. many lecturers who are experts and have a lot of experiences in their field. I was enlightened by their lectures which showed a wide range of perspectives that I never knew before. I also learnt a lot from my classmates who came from different countries, backgrounds and cultures. Even if we only discussed one issue in each course session, the perspective was so rich each time.  

I remain connected with some of my lecturers and classmates on LinkedIn and they are still enlightening me with their posts. They share their view about current issues, opening my eyes about what is happening on the other side of the world, also assisting me to learn more about recent problems and the solutions that can be offered to tackle it. 

6. How did UNSW Arts & Social Sciences help prepare you for the workforce throughout your degree? 

The Master of Public Relations and Advertising offered me a practical and academic path at the same time. I chose to do something practical as I thought I would learn from experts and practitioners in Public Relations. And my choice was right. The practical path has a wide range of courses allowing students to practice planning strategies as well as implementing tactics. I definitely experienced a real work environment when I was studying. 

7. How did you get your foot in the door as a graduate, following the completion of your degree? 

Before I studied at UNSW, I had a role as a Public Opinion Analyst. After completing my master’s degree and going back to my employer, I was assigned a new role as a Communications Strategist. It was great because having that role meant I had a good opportunity to apply all the knowledge that I gained during my study upon my return. From time to time I also have the opportunity to teach Public Relations 101 and Strategic Communication to my colleagues at the Ministry of Finance. 

8. What advice would you give to someone considering studying Arts at UNSW? 

If you are considering studying Arts at UNSW, your choice is right. You will not only gain knowledge and skills to achieve a degree but also you will learn soft skills that will help you cope with the corporate environment. UNSW Arts and Social Sciences also offers many courses that will benefit you in the future. It also has elective courses that you can take either within or outside the faculty. In my case, during my studies, I was able to take a marketing course from the Business School. 

9. What was your experience like as an international student studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW? 

For me, the Student Development International* is one of the best things that UNSW has for international students. They will support you with both your academic life and your personal life. You can have consultations with student advisors and they will not only listen to you, but also give you valuable advice. My student advisor was a friendly and amicable person. She listened and helped me when I struggled adjusting to my life at UNSW, being away from my family, especially my eight-month year old baby. 

*Student Development International is now called The International Student Experience Unit (ISEU) 

10. Why do you Love What You Do? 

I love what I do because I have the opportunity to build connections between my institution and the public on a daily basis, as I work in Government Public Relations. In this digital era, when the public is surrounded by fake news and misinformation through social media, the role of Government Public Relations is critical to educate and provide them with accurate information. Therefore, you can build a sense of trust between the government and the public. It is not an easy task but it is a rewarding challenge that I am willing to undertake. 

As Robert Collier would say: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out”