Internship programme provides mutual benefits for international students and local companies
08 September 2023
When Jenny Jin, a Master of Business student from China, joined Te Kura Umanga | UC Business School Summer Micro-Internship programme, little did she know it would not only provide her with a taste of the real business world but also pave the way for an exciting job offer.
The Summer Micro-Internship programme sees groups of international students from a range of countries partner with local companies that are looking to expand into that country. Over the course of three weeks, the student teams conduct research and develop a report with recommendations to help inform the expansion strategy of their client. The programme not only provides students with hands-on, real-world experience, but also enables Canterbury businesses to benefit from their unique knowledge and expertise. Furthermore, domestic students are encouraged to participate, bringing a local perspective to their teams, and allowing them to gain valuable experience working in a multicultural team environment.
Jenny, who participated in the programme in 2022, was part of a team that undertook a project for Walnuts New Zealand Co-operative, a co-operative of around 50 walnut grower members mostly based in Canterbury. Her decision to apply for the programme was driven by a desire to gain insights into New Zealand's business landscape, and her experience didn’t disappoint.
“I got to learn about the business from the product to the processing and packaging, and how they do the marketing, which was especially valuable as my major is marketing. So, I got a real experience!”
Kevin Parish, General Manager of Walnuts New Zealand Co-operative, is equally enthusiastic about his participation in the programme.
“It was a really fantastic, positive experience. We're a small company and we haven't got a lot of resources. So, the idea that a couple of teams from UC could come along and help work on some of the projects or problems we were trying to solve was fantastic.”
He was also happy to be able to offer students the opportunity to get exposure to the commercial world outside of the classroom, and to help them prepare for the next stage in their life.
For Jenny, that next stage was a job as Marketing and Sales Co-ordinator at Walnuts New Zealand Co-operative, which she currently does part-time while completing her studies. Kevin says he was grateful for the opportunity to connect with Jenny through the programme and it has worked out particularly well having her come on board.
“She's a fantastic addition to the team out here and just the sort of person we were looking for.”
One of Jenny’s responsibilities is managing the co-operative’s social media accounts and Kevin notes that the social media quality has gone up.
“We've had positive comments from shareholders and customers about that.”
Reflecting on the value that international students like Jenny can bring to local organisations, Kevin highlights their understanding of diverse consumer preferences across countries. Jenny echoes this sentiment, emphasising that the cultural backgrounds of international students are a real strength.
“For example, I'm from China and because of my real-life experience, I know about Chinese e-commerce platforms, I know how Chinese companies do marketing campaigns. And when I get to New Zealand it is a totally different commerce environment, but I can apply something I learned from the Chinese market to the New Zealand market, and this can provide the company with some innovation. By combining different models of thinking, it can create really interesting and creative ideas.”
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