An overseas experience is a popular rite of passage for young Kiwis. With a thirst for adventure, a technical skillset and a can-do attitude, AUT graduates make popular employees around the globe.
While working and living overseas, young Kiwis develop capabilities and connections that will prove vital to the future of our small, export-led nation.
But the expense of travel often means it’s low on a new graduate’s list of possibilities.
Enter the AUT Internz scholarship - a unique initiative that, since 2014, has connected 150 new graduates hungry for their first taste of working life, with overseas employers keen to diversify their talent pipelines and strengthen Kiwi connections.
Over summer 30 graduates, hand-picked by global industry leaders, stepped aboard flights to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Vancouver, Singapore and London. They set off for internships in a range of industries including sport, finance, advertising, design, engineering, entertainment, culture and hospitality, preparing to add names like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paramount Recording Studios, Westpac Americas and the Sundance Institute to their CVs.
Through a strong network of alumni and industry connections, AUT identifies, curates and negotiates these paid, careerstarting global internships each year for graduating students to apply for. Each student selected by one of AUT’s global industry partners receives a scholarship covering return airfares, visas, insurances and some basic accommodation costs.
Athletic clothing company Lululemon and its innovation lab, Whitespace, has provided a range of Vancouver-based internships for AUT graduates since joining the programme in 2017. The iconic brand has hosted graduates from fashion design, product design, sport science and creative technologies.
Whitespace Research Scientist Sian Allen admits she’s “a little biased” about Kiwi graduates, having lived in New Zealand for six years and graduated with her PhD from AUT.
“I know New Zealand is a great hub for innovation in various sectors - like America’s Cup and Rocket Lab.”
Director of Development at AUT Rebecca Lowery says the relationship between AUT and Lululemon illustrates the synergy that can be achieved when a university invests time and energy developing quality industry relationships to open doors for students and graduates – often with alumni as a conduit.
At the beginning of 2019, Bachelor of Design graduate Aishwarya Angadi along with Bachelor of Sport and Recreation Graduates Jessica Yeoman and Katrina Sharlott packed their bags for Lululemon HQ in Vancouver and haven’t looked back. All three were offered contracts by Lululemon when their initial three-month internships were up, meaning they can take advantage of their 24-month Canadian work visas they received as part of their scholarship package.
“Kiwis tend to have an amazing entrepreneurial spirit because DIY is in the culture which can fit really nicely with the sometimes scrappy, always iterative way that we like to work in Whitespace. Katrina has been great for helping us execute research studies and projects that are fuelling the future of our work.”
“It is life-changing for students,” Katrina says. “AUT is one of the only universities that offer these kind of international connections to recent graduates, and this opportunity might shape the rest of your career.”
Working as a Design Assistant in the Concept Colour team, Aishwarya describes her new role as a dream come true. “I was told how cut throat the fashion industry is and how impossible it is to get your foot in the door. I am so grateful to AUT and Internz for giving me the opportunity to break through the walls of fashion and jumpstart my career.”