Ketika sedang mencari informasi terkait dengan sistem perkuliahan program doktoral suatu kampus di United Kindom (UK), saya menemukan tulisan dari seseorang yang menurut saya masuk akal. Dia menuliskan bahwa program doktoral itu akan lebih banyak riset, oleh karena itu intensitas pertemuan dengan dosen pembimbing akan tinggi. Maka disarankan agar mencari supervisor yang cocok dengan kita, walaupun peringkat kampusnya lebih rendah; daripada memilih kampus yang peringkatnya lebih tinggi, tapi calon professor yang kita incar bersedia membimbing kita dengan mengajukan syarat tertentu, misalnya berdasarkan pengalaman seorang teman, proposal riset yang telah disusun diminta untuk disesuaikan secara drastis.

Tentu saja. Kasus tadi hanya berupa simplifikasi, pada prakteknya, mungkin saja banyak variabel lain yang berperan sehingga kemudian pada akhirnya kita memilih kampus tertentu. Bukan karena terpaksa, tapi karena kita yakin dengan informasi yang telah didapatkan, kampus tersebut memang yang terbaik untuk kita. Kalau memang diterima di kampus yang bagus, dan di situ kebetulan ada professor yang bersedia membimbing, ya alhamdulillah. But, please do remember, mengutip perkataan Lionel Messi, sometimes we have to accept that we cannot win all the time.

Pada kasus saya, perburuan professor sebenarnya sudah dimulai ketika akan tes wawancara LPDP. Pada November tahun lalu, saya mengirimkan surel ke dua orang professor di The University of Groningen dan University of Birmingham. Untuk yang di Groningen, tidak sampai satu hari surel sudah dibalas oleh beliau; merekomendasikan agar saya langsung mendaftar ke admission office karena nanti mereka yang akan mencarikan supervisor untuk saya. Untuk yang di Birmingham, sampai sekarang belum ada balasan.

Sekadar contoh, surel yang saya kirimkan waktu itu adalah seperti berikut:

Dear Professor XYZ,

I am Arif from Indonesia, a public officer in Ministry of Finance. I am interested in conducting a research in the international finance field, mainly in developing government bonds in an emerging countries’ market; and thinking of pursuing a PhD degree with this topic. Just for a highlight, during the last 20 years, the government bonds have become the major source in financing the budget deficit, debt refinancing, and infrastructure support. Its proportion compared to another source, loans, tends to increase from 52.8% in December 2005 to 78.1% in August 2016. Therefore, having a deep knowledge in that area will be beneficial for me in supporting the policy issued by the government.

As a manager in a division which has a responsibility in managing government bonds, particularly in managing the government bonds portfolio, I have a big chance in getting a full scholarship from the government in order to continue my study at PhD level. Several days ago I got notification from the institution which manages the scholarship, they informed that I am invited to the last stage of the selection process that will be held in the next week. While the obtaining scholarship process is going on, I have started to find a supervisor who has an expertise in international finance.

I find your name on University of ABC’s staff member and on your page I see that your research interests area in the area of macroeconomic, international and monetary economics; and your expertness, among others, are in international finance, financial intermediation, and financial systems. In addition, I found one of your research titled “DEF” using a similar methodology with a methodology I would like to employ in the research proposal.

Since joining University of ABC is my top priority in continuing study in PhD program enrolled in September 2017, is there any chance I can involve in your research or project relating to international finance for the next year?

Enclosed, please find my CV for your review; including the research proposal, MSc certificate and transcript from Hiroshima University, and a paper that I published this year in The Singapore Economic Review titled “Finding the driver: A case study of Indonesian Government Bond Market”. Thank you very much for your kind attention and considering my proposal. I am looking forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely yours,
Arif P. Sulistiono

Namun, walaupun hasilnya mengecewakan, proses tersebut ternyata bisa “dijual” ketika menjawab rentetan pertanyaan dari Tim Pewawancara tentang alasan memilih kampus sebagai tujuan kuliah.

P: Kenapa memilih Groningen?
S: Karena ada professor yang cocok dengan tema riset yang akan saya ambil.
P: Sudah menghubungi professornya?
S: Sudah, Pak.
P: Dia mau membimbing kamu?
S: Beliau menyarankan saya agar apply langsung ke admission office.
P: Jadi dia belum mengatakan setuju akan membimbing?
S: Beliau tidak mengiyakan. Tapi beliau juga tidak menolak saya untuk menjadi mahasiswa bimbingannya.

Saya kira, hasilnya akan jauh berbeda apabila saya menjawab “Belum. Saya belum menghubungi professor.” Dalam kolom penilaian ‘usaha yang telah dilakukan untuk mendapatkan beasiswa’ , apabila ada, poin saya pasti nol besar.

Setelah mendapatkan beasiswa, proses pencarian professor pun saya lanjutkan kembali. Surel yang saya kirimkan ke para professor sebenarnya tidak mengalami banyak perubahan, hanya ada sedikit informasi tambahan bahwa saya sudah mendapatkan beasiswa. Contohnya:

Dear Professor UVW,

My name is Arif from Indonesia, a public officer in Ministry of Finance. I am interested in conducting a research in the international finance field, mainly in developing government bonds in emerging countries’ market; and thinking of pursuing a PhD degree with this topic. I find your name on the University of GHI’s staff member and on the staff supervision areas page I see that your research interests area in the area of macroeconomics, international finance, and development economics.

Just for a highlight, during the last 20 years, the Indonesia’s government bonds have become the major source in financing the budget deficit, debt refinancing, and infrastructure support. Its proportion compared to another source, loans, tends to increase from 52.8% in December 2005 to 78.9% in December 2016. Therefore, as a manager in a division which has a responsibility in managing government bonds, particularly in managing the government bonds portfolio, having a deep knowledge in that area will be beneficial for me and the ministry in supporting the policy issued by the government.

Further, since I already have a scholarship from Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan) and to join The University of GHI is my top priority in continuing study in PhD program enrolled in 2018, is there any chance I can involve in your research or project relating to international finance for the next year?

Enclosed, please find my CV for your review; including the research proposal, MSc certificate and transcript from Hiroshima University, and a paper that I published last year in The Singapore Economic Review titled “Finding the driver: A case study of Indonesian Government Bond Market”. Thank you very much for your kind attention and considering my proposal. I am looking forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely yours,
Arif P. Sulistiono

Sebelumnya saya kira prosesnya akan lebih mudah. Tapi ternyata tidak. Tercatat saya sudah ditolak oleh dua professor di University of Glasgow dan The University of Nottingham; diacuhkan oleh satu professor lainnya di University of Glasgow; dialihkan untuk daftar via admission office oleh satu professor di The University of Queensland; dan disarankan untuk mendaftar ke universitas lain oleh Utrecht University karena tidak ada professor yang bersedia membimbing.

Namun ternyata, Allah itu Maha Baik, percaya lah sudah. Tidak terbantahkan ini mah. Dua surel saya lainnya ke professor di University of York dan The University of Nottingham mendapatkan respon positif. Alhamdulillah, hanya dalam hitungan jam mereka membalas surel dan menyatakan kesediaannya untuk membimbing saya tanpa harus membongkar proposal riset yang telah saya susun; setidaknya sampai dengan saat ini.

Dengan adanya persetujuan itu, maka saya bisa melangkahkan kaki ke anak tangga selanjutnya: mendaftar resmi ke kampus tujuan. Bismillah.

arifprasdotcomBerburuProf

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