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Otago Business School student internship experiences

Our Interns are involved in real business activities and genuinely add value to businesses they work for. They offfer enormous benefits for our students and the organizations they serve.

Successful internships take many forms. Hear from some of our interns about their internship experiences.

Sanne Deen

“It is a really great opportunity to learn to apply yourself to the business world and improve your emotional intelligence in the workplace. It will give you invaluable practical skills that will hand you a huge advantage when applying for jobs in the future.”

When Sanne Deen came to Otago she left the city in which she’d lived all her life.

“I wanted a different experience, and to get a fresh start with people I had never met before.”

She enrolled in the BA programme, and in semester 2 took a marketing paper.

“I really enjoyed it. I then decided to move to the BCom programme to increase my employability profile.”

Increasing her employability was also one of the reasons that Sanne decided to do an internship, and she would recommend the experience to other students.

One of the things Sanne enjoyed most about her internship was the autonomy of her role.

“I was able to apply myself to many different tasks, and was trusted greatly in everything I did. Although it was an ‘internship’, I was not treated how you think an intern might be treated.”

She also came to value what the experience taught her about herself.

“I learned to have confidence in whatever I do. Also, to know when to seek help on something, and when to speak up if something hasn’t gone the way it should have.”

On completion of the BCom programme, Sanne aspires to a future in marketing.

“I hope that it will lead me into a successful career, providing me with the skills that I need to continually push the boundaries of my capability.”

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Tim Varsanyi

“Being able to pick up new skills and test myself in the workplace environment has been invaluable. It has been reassuring to learn that my studies have a practical application in a high-performing workplace.”

Tim Varsanyi enjoyed accounting and economics at school and decided that a career in business would be a good fit. On assessing his university options, the quality and variety of the courses offered led him to choose Otago.

“I’m currently undertaking a double degree, majoring in accounting for my Bachelor of Commerce and computer science for my Bachelor of Sciences. I enjoy accounting for its practicality. Similarly, computer science is highly relevant, given the role of technology in the present and future, both in the workforce and in broader society.”

Otago’s reputation for excellence was also an important factor.

“An Otago qualification – from a tertiary institution ranked in the top 1% in the world – opens up doors locally and globally. The values I have learned in my time at Otago will serve me well in any professional environment.”

Tim decided on an internship to gain practical experience in a work environment and to test and apply his learning.

During his internship, Tim learned about the importance of both hard work and networking.

“The hard work helped me prioritise my time, in and out of the workplace. The networking is crucial to meeting like-minded people and setting yourself up for the future.”

Tim has the following advice for students considering an internship.

“Just give it a go! An internship will give you the skills and experience that will set you apart from the rest of your graduate cohort. It is a short-term sacrifice of your time, but will pay out dividends into your future.”

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Anna Weidling

“I have loved my internship working with Canon, not only because the team was amazing but because I was given real responsibility and trusted with real projects, so it really gave me the chance to further develop my understanding of marketing in a real business setting.”

For Bachelor of Commerce student Anna Weidling, the University of Otago was an obvious choice. “It’s arguably the best university in New Zealand and has a Business School with a prominent world ranking.”

Her combination of a marketing major and finance minor has proved ideal.

“In marketing I’ve really enjoyed the chances to come up with my own campaigns in some papers and the creativity that we could develop, as well as learning about digital marketing, which is so relevant for all businesses today.”

“I think my finance minor will help show that I’m not only capable of the creative side, but also understand the financials and how crucial these are to operating any business.”

Anna believes that the Otago internship programme has offered her an invaluable experience.

Anna would tell any student considering an internship to just go for it.

“Don’t be scared of making a mistake, and just dive straight in! Learning as much as possible in an experience like this has been key for me because I wanted to come out of it feeling as prepared as possible for when I go looking for jobs.”

“You will come out of it so much more prepared for the workforce, with real work experience on your CV, which is ultimately what future employers are looking for.”

Anna wanted a degree that would offer many opportunities and not limit where she could work. She believes that she is well on the way to obtaining that.

“I think that my Otago qualification could take me wherever I want to go. I have already been abroad for a year, which was amazing, and once I finish up I plan on going overseas again and just seeing where I end up!”

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Brylie McGowan

"A friend did an internship and I saw first-hand the opportunities that opened up for them. I liked the idea of seeing if an accounting career was right for me first without having to commit to a graduate position. It also seemed like a great way to stand out from the crowd as a graduate and feel confident transitioning into the workforce.”

Brylie McGowan says participating in an internship programme while studying for her Bachelor of Commerce helped her focus on her future direction. 

The flexibility of the internship project meant Brylie could choose a topic that she was really interested in. She spoke with the Climate Change and Sustainability Services teams within EY Wellington to gain insights into their specialist knowledge on her chosen topic area; business sustainability and social impacts.

“I enjoy that these subjects involve evaluating different theories and a lot of critical thinking which keeps them interesting.”

The best part of Brylie’s internship was the people she met and worked with.

“I made a bunch of great friends and really appreciated how everyone was willing to help me grow professionally and personally.”

Another highlight was the opportunity to travel for work.

“I got to travel to Blenheim, Napier, Auckland and Sydney for different clients and conferences. And I was lucky enough to be offered a graduate position at the end of the internship.” 

Brylie encourages new students to get involved with the many unique programmes and extracurricular activities offered at Otago.

“They are all focused on preparing us for life after university and my advice is to get amongst as much of them as possible to set yourself up for the future. Be open about what you think you are going to study – it is okay to change at any point when you figure out what you are interested in.”

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Lydia Fookes

“Leaving university, I felt I had a lot of options and I had no trouble securing a marketing role with a tourism company in Queenstown. It became apparent that my career goals lie within the tourism and hospitality industry and I’m currently seeking international marketing opportunities.”

The Otago Internship Programme helped Lydia Fookes gain valuable work experience before graduating.

“A big catalyst for me applying for the internship was the fact the programme was so supportive. I had an incredible workplace mentor who identified my skillset early on and created an environment where I could flourish and thrive. My role was structured so I could apply my knowledge in a practical setting and the company could benefit from my fresh ideas. 

“Being a smaller business, I often worked among the executive team. Being able to work alongside the CEO as an entry-level employee is rare in big corporates and taught me a lot about proactively approaching tasks to complete them efficiently to a high standard.”

Lydia says she took advantage of as many extracurricular activities as she could during her time at Otago, believing this would strengthen her employment prospects after graduation. She took part in the Business Case Competition, which she says developed her problem-solving skills, and also studied overseas.

“At the beginning of 2019, I studied in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia. Going on exchange gave me international marketing knowledge and spread my network to all corners of the globe. It was also an incredible way to travel. I got to know Vancouver well, while at weekends it was easy to pop to another part of the country.”

The flexibility of Otago’s degree structure enabled Lydia to experience many different Commerce subjects.

“In my first year, I changed my major over three times because each semester brought with it a fascinating new aspect of the business world. Being able to sample all of the Bachelor of Commerce subjects gave me confidence I would find a topic I would be able to turn into a career. University is a big commitment, so having a passion for the subject you’re studying is incredibly important for success.

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Liv Payne

“I was fortunate to be a part of the Otago Business School Internship programme, which involved working for the New Zealand Treasury in Wellington. It was an invaluable experience and is now such a drawcard on my CV. ”

Liv Payne loved the idea of “being a scarfie” and living in a town that caters to students.

“I really loved the Otago student lifestyle: studying during the day, meeting heaps of new people, going on adventures in the greater Otago region and, at the end of the day, relaxing outside my flat.”

She enjoyed the range of social and cultural opportunities and activities on offer, and says the OUSA Capping Show was a big part of her time at Otago. She also appreciated the versality of the Bachelor of Commerce degree, which gave her a broad range of skills essential for any career.

“I was able to be creative through my Marketing major and my Communication Studies minor, as well as learn practical skills with my Accounting minor and the core business papers. I loved how flexible I could make my degree and how course material and group projects applied to the real business world.”

Being part of the Otago Business School Internship programme, which involved working for the New Zealand Treasury in Wellington, was an “invaluable experience”.

“Employers have told me that seeing that on my CV was an advantage; it gave me the work experience that just having a degree couldn’t do, and prepared me for what to expect before entering the corporate world. I definitely recommend putting your hand up to do this programme.” 

Liv now works at the University as a postgraduate administrator, fostering relationships with academic departments and ensuring future postgraduate students get into their programme.

She has also maintained her interest in cultural activities at Otago and is the 2020 Capping Show producer, co-ordinating marketing for the show and making sure everything is running smoothly for show time.

“There is so much on offer at Otago, and only a limited amount of time to do everything. It is where you make so many connections; both in business and in lifelong friendships.

“My advice is study hard, play hard, and make sure that when you leave university to join the ‘real world’ your memory of Otago is the best it can be.”

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