Zhirui (Caroline) Wang
'Studying here at UC has been absolutely amazing for a number of reasons...'
Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing
Master of Professional Accounting
Associate, PwC NZ
What set you on the path to New Zealand from China?
Initially, I came to New Zealand on an international student exchange programme, which introduced me to a whole new way of thinking as well as some amazing experiences.
The first degree I completed was a BEc from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, majoring in International Economics and Trade. I studied these majors as they allowed me to develop a more in-depth understanding of how companies function and how people and economies interact with each other. This programme was also very appealing as it offered students a clear pathway for further study abroad in the future.
As a result, the second degree I completed was a BCom majoring in Marketing from UC. I specifically chose this major as I was interested in exploring a career in sales and marketing and thought that learning Western approaches to business would allow me to offer more to potential Chinese employers.
Why did you decide to return back to UC for postgrad studies?
After working as a sales manager in China for a number of years, I decided to return to pursue my lifetime interest in finance and accounting as well as to build a new life here in New Zealand. In doing so, I chose to complete an MPA degree at UC as it provided essential coverage of all of the necessary aspects and practical knowledge required to join the profession. At the same time, the programme also offers useful accreditations with various professional accounting bodies (CA ANZ/CPA Australia/ACCA).
What was it like coming back to UC again after all these years?
Studying here at UC has been absolutely amazing for a number of reasons – the lecturers are all very patient and helpful; the campus is truly beautiful; the culture is inclusive; and the University provides chances for growing positive social connections for all international and domestic students.
Therefore, my decision to return to Christchurch after 5 years away was easily the best decision I have made in my life – as now I have an interesting future to look forward to! The meaningful relationships that I was able to cultivate with my UC lecturers and other students has meant that even as I depart campus life and move onto my career, I know that the friendship network I now have here in Christchurch will remain strong – which is very important to me.
Tell us about some of those connections you’ve made in the community.
I was the Treasurer of the Postgraduate Student Association (PGSA), which held regular social and academic events throughout the year for postgrad students. Being involved with the group provided me with many valuable opportunities to add to my experience of planning budgets and organising transactions, while also allowing me to make some wonderful new friends and connections.
Over the years, I also took part in various events held by the Student Volunteer Army, Tramping Club, UC Accounting Society, etc. In fact, I think if you possess a positive mindset and willingness to go outside your comfort zone, then there are lots of really good chances to connect with new people outside of study at UC.
How was it studying the MPA degree?
My studies and experiences at UC offered me multiple pathways to regularly connect and work with a diverse range of people from all over the world in my classes. This interaction was extremely valuable in encouraging me to evolve as a person, opening my mind to new ideas and perspectives, while also helping me to prepare for future challenges in life.
And you even landed a role with PwC in their Assurance team before graduating! How did your studies prepare you for that?
I believe that the friendly tips, knowledge, and guidance offered to me by my UC lecturers were absolutely invaluable in encouraging me to approach potential employers and their interview processes with confidence and positivity.
In fact, the MPA programme in many ways motivated me to improve my critical thinking and analysis skills, especially with regard to applying this learned knowledge to real-world scenarios.
Additionally, completing the various research assignments and case studies assigned to us during our courses provided me with a solid platform upon which to develop a functional understanding of Audit as a discipline. Possessing this knowledge subsequently allowed me to receive formal offers from five top international accounting firms – for which I am very grateful.
What advice do you have for other students wanting to achieve that same level of success?
My advice would be, that even though conducting postgraduate study is ‘no walk in the park’, with every challenge you face, you and your classmates can and will successfully find a way to move through it – so don't panic!
Many students, including myself, found adapting to the intense pace of the MPA programme challenging at times, especially at the beginning. But, as we moved forward past the first couple of months, each of us gradually came to develop our own individual style of study, learning how to manage and utilise our time. As a result, by the end of the programme, we had grown stronger from the experience, gaining more confidence and ability to achieve our goals.
Anything you wanted other international students to know?
Choosing to have a totally different life living abroad will be complicated at times, so you must always believe in yourself. Live each day with an open mind and heart to the different people and cultures around you. By doing so, you will not only experience success as a student but also as a person. So, be strong, take the leap of faith, and always be yourself – I wish you all the very best of luck on your journey at UC and in life.
'The overall best part of the project was having experience in the workforce before graduating...'