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Student story

Aaron Bong

20 July 2023

"Great sceneries and a great education motivated me to come to New Zealand..."


Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Software Engineer, Inclusion & Diversity Champion at FIS, New Zealand



Aaron’s journey started at UCIC, studying foundation studies in IT, where he was awarded a UC Scholarship worth NZD$10K towards the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in recognition of his excellent results.

"I would recommend the UCIC Foundation Studies,’ he says. ‘These courses help international students who had never studied in New Zealand before to quickly adapt to the New Zealand tertiary education system as well as give a good understanding of local Kiwi culture. After graduating from UCIC, it was easy for me to transition to my first-year studies and beyond at UC."

Originally from Sarawak, Malaysia, Aaron knew about New Zealand because of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as the sceneries shown in the movies caught his attention.

"Those movies gave me a glimpse of how beautiful New Zealand is, and I certainly wanted to visit. New Zealand is also well known for its quality tertiary studies. Some of my family friends who graduated from New Zealand universities gave me great feedback about their experiences. Great sceneries and a great education motivated me to come to New Zealand."

He enjoys New Zealand as the places and locals make him feel at home.

"My experience as an international student has been wonderful, not only in UC but in New Zealand as a whole. Wherever I go, the locals are very kind, welcoming, and understanding. Even though I am from another country, the locals have always treated me like their own family. The inclusivity and diversity of the people are the ultimate reasons why I fell in love with New Zealand."

One of the best experiences that Aaron had at UC was the cultural diversity present around the campus, from the staff members and students to UC clubs and support services.

"The best thing about UC is the teaching staff and students’ diversity, as well as its diversity of clubs. I am always keen to make friends from different nationalities and understand their cultures. UC is the perfect place as the UC community represents 100+ nationalities from all over the world, which helped me to gain a global mindset. Also, UC has more than 150 student-run clubs.

"I was part of the UC Diversity Society (DeSoc). A champion inclusion and diversity club on campus, where I was the President for three years. Through this experience, I’ve gained diverse set of skills such as leadership, people management, communication, and organisational skills, as well as an understanding of the legal policies of operating a club. I had the privilege to lead a group of passionate people and established relationships with several clubs and organisations outside the University, such as UNICEF. I also had the privilege to organise several events with the club committee to educate students regarding inclusion and diversity."

Apart from being involved in the UC community, he got the chance to be part of the Christchurch Educated, a government-funded organisation that focuses on the international student experience and promotes Christchurch on the global stage; and AIESEC Canterbury, a global organisation that specialises in arranging international exchange programmes and internships for students to contribute towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Those two organisations led him to be an international student ambassador and open his mind to different cultures.

"I have enjoyed arranging for AIESEC participants to go overseas, as well as welcoming and managing incoming participants to New Zealand. Through those experiences, I have gained social media and digital marketing skills, teamwork in a multicultural environment, organisational skills, and people management and human resource skills. I have made lifelong friends with students from other tertiary institutions outside of UC while I was learning about different cultures."

Through his time at UC, he was awarded scholarships from UC Alumni Sibu Chapter and UC Foundation because of his outstanding academic performance and extracurricular activities. Aaron was awarded a Lifetime Membership from the Golden Key International Honour Society, Canterbury chapter, based on the top 15% of students for academic achievements.

"UC offers world-class facilities and has a good reputation for studies in the ICT field, with a strong emphasis on AI, Software Engineering processes, AR, and VR. One of the greatest strengths is that the teaching staffs are highly experienced in their respective fields and always spend time listening to students’ concerns. Also, the Bachelor of Science is a highly flexible programme, which allowed me to widen my field of studies outside the ICT field, such as Psychology, Japanese, and Entrepreneurship."

Part of his programme included internships to put into practise his knowledge, giving him the opportunity to gain work experience and start to build up his network.

"My first internship was at a Kiwi start-up company called Connex World in 2017. This company started in a garage, just like the other tech giants such as Google! My main tasks were to develop a new front-end website and a cross-platform mobile app. Apart from IT-related tasks, I was also involved with business development tasks such as business operations, making meaningful connections with people, doing the sales pitch, representing the company in events, and training new joiners. This internship widened my experience beyond the ICT field. My second internship was with Datacom during the summer of 2017. My main tasks were to develop a Dashboard to monitor the performance of one of Datacom’s logistic software using Business Intelligence and Data Analytics.

"I recommend students to get internships related to their field, even though it is not a requirement to complete their studies. Having an internship related to your field gives you a hands-on opportunity to apply what you have learned and exposes you to real Kiwi work culture. The two internships allowed me to make meaningful connections with professionals in the industry who later became my referees for my job applications."

His experiences at UC helped gain his role at FIS Global as a Software Engineer. He is also part of the Board of The Arthrogryposis Group of New Zealand (TAGNZ), which is a charitable trust set up to support families and those affected by Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenital (AMC).

"I'm currently working as a Software Engineer, Inclusion & Diversity Champion at FIS.  Part of my job is implementing new features for the software, fixing any existing bugs, testing the software to meet client requirements, mentoring and training new joiners, promoting inclusion and diversity both within and outside the organisation, and driving inclusion and diversity initiatives. Also, I am part of the Board of TAGNZ, where I organise events, set up scholarships for members, bring a youth perspective to the Board, as well as manage their social media and website.

"UC lays the foundation for my people and technical skills, which is vital in helping me to contribute to the workforce. At work, no matter how complex the software is, I often go back to the basics, like choosing the correct data structure, class inheritance, and basic SQL commands. So, things you have learned in basic courses at universities such as COSC122 and COSC265 can be useful for the rest of your professional career."


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