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Prime Minister’s Scholarships empower Wintec students with global perspectives and self-growth

Several Wintec Business students recently returned from transformative internships in Japan and Colombia, thanks to the Prime Minister’s Scholarship scheme. These experiences not only provided valuable professional skills but also fostered deep cultural understanding and personal growth.

The Prime Minister's Scholarship is a prestigious programme designed to foster international educational exchanges, enhancing global understanding and collaboration. Managed by Education New Zealand (ENZ), the scholarship aims to support Kiwi students in undertaking study, internships, or research in Asia and Latin America, and to bring talented students from these regions to New Zealand. This initiative not only broadens academic and professional horizons for recipients but also strengthens New Zealand’s educational ties with key regions. Partnering with leading tertiary providers and organisations, the scholarship creates a dynamic network of global leaders, enriching the cultural and intellectual fabric of all participants.

Discovering new horizons in Japan and Colombia

From December 2023 to February 2024, Wintec students embarked on life-changing journeys through the Prime Minister’s Scholarships. In Tokyo, Japan, students gained hands-on experience in fields like Accounting, Human Resource, and Strategic management. Meanwhile, in Medellin, Colombia, they engaged deeply with local culture and professional practices through placements organised by The Intern Group (TIG).

Myana Tuakana: Bridging cultures and growing social skills in Japan

Myana Tuakana, 22, a proud Cook Islands woman, who has completed a Bachelor's degree in Applied Management with a major in Strategic Management, was motivated to represent her community internationally. 

"I learned more about business and gained valuable real-life skills. I also gained experience in international marketing, recruitment, and customer relationship management software.

“The experience also greatly contributed to my personal development, especially in terms of social interaction. I initially thought I would be on my own when planning this trip, but that quickly changed due to the dynamics of our group. We rapidly built strong bonds, treating each other like siblings."

Advice for the future applicant: “The best advice I could give is to always take the opportunity to give something like this a go. Always be open to trying new things, be respectful, and do everything to the best of your ability.”

Mitchell Evans: Making lifelong connections in Japan

Mitchell Evans, 22, completed his degree in Accounting and relished his internship experience in Japan. 

“I've always had an interest in business, and I hope to one day own businesses of my own, which motivated me to study accounting and to apply for the internship.”

Mitchell said one of his biggest highlights was meeting like-minded people and making lifelong connections.

“I was able to explore Tokyo nearly every day and participate in numerous free activities, this meant I could spend my money on other things such as a snowboarding weekend at Hakuba Valley. These activities provided a deeper insight into the Japanese culture.

“I was able to secure a great role with an AI start-up company helping to compile financial information intended for potential investors. This information was used to show investors key metrics for the business and ultimately convince them of the business's financial viability. 

“I was able to learn a lot about Venture Capital and what it takes for a start-up to get off the ground. I would one day love to have my own start-up company, so this experience aligned perfectly with my goals.”

Advice for the future applicant: Mitchell said it was worth the hassle of applying for the scholarship and he would encourage others to give it a go. 

“Put your best efforts into your application. It is time-consuming but ultimately, it's worth it in the end. Prepare to spend $1,000 NZD a week and bring a spare suitcase.”

Endah Sri Wahyuni: Gaining a global perspective in Japan

Endah Sri Wahyuni is in her final year of the Bachelor of Applied Management programme, majoring in Accounting. 

Through the six-week internship programme in Japan, Endah said she gained a wealth of experiences which accelerated her personal and professional development.   

“I wanted to know how a business was run, learn what accounting standard/system is used and to truly experience the work culture in Japan, since Japan is the fourth largest economy in the world after USA, China and Germany, and one of the biggest business hubs in the world. 

“A key takeaway from my internship experience in Japan was to be resilient and persevere in what you are working on.”

Throughout the internship Endah discovered that learning could be done through observation. 

“I observed how the CEO ran the German company and led his team to break into Japan’s market and increase sales, especially considering that Japan is a conservative society and is deeply rooted in tradition and respect. I can apply his techniques in my current role to enhance my future career.

“Now, when I see a global issue, I will look at which country the issue has occurred in, and which countries have been impacted. From there I will do my research to understand their culture and see their opinion/action from their perspective. Then, see if I can fill the gap from a New Zealand perspective to approach with a better understanding/solution."

Advice for the future applicant: “I strongly recommend students to apply for the Prime Minister’s scholarship internship program in Japan/Colombia.  It greatly accelerates both your personal and professional development. The foreign country environment truly brings out your inner talent and to hone your problem-solving skills faster while in an exciting and fresh programme to improve you as an individual.”

Christian Kearns: Embracing diversity in Japan

Christian Kearns, 28, from Ngāti Maniapoto, transitioned from hospitality to studying accounting. His internship in Japan was a revelation. 

"Traveling and working in Tokyo expanded my understanding of different cultures and customs," he noted. 

Christian's thorough preparation helped him adapt to the cultural shock, and he valued the daily debriefs with his group.

“I love to travel as much as I can. Experiencing new places, culture, people and activities excite me. Traveling abroad is something I want to do as much as I can, so applying for this scholarship was a no brainer.”

Christian said his highlights included travelling around Tokyo, site seeing, meeting new people, eating new food, and experiencing the Japanese culture. 

“I also found the experience working at a finance firm valuable and it taught me some new things, not only about the work force, but about myself as well. 

“During this programme a group of us would have daily debriefs at the end of the day and talk about our daily experience. I learnt that I was breaking away from a couple of habits of mine, and this provided me with the opportunity to do so.

"Although I did conduct research beforehand, it was still a bit of a culture shock. I’m glad I was placed with another participant, so I didn’t feel completely alone, and we relied on each other at work." 

Advice for the future applicant: “Do a lot of research before you go—study the culture, the people, and the place where you’ll be working or staying. Also, research what to bring, so you will be well-prepared."

Georgia Willoughby: Learning history through a new lens in Colombia

Photo: Georgia Willoughby (left) and Olivia Robinson (right).

Georgia Willoughby, 23, is studying a Bachelor of Applied Management - Majoring in Strategic Management and has just completed her Prime Minister’s Scholarship in Colombia.

“We were incredibly fortunate to visit two vibrant communities, and I had the amazing opportunity to immerse myself with the locals and learn history through a completely new lens. The values and stories I encountered were absolutely mind-blowing, and they transformed my entire perspective on life. Engaging with people’s stories gave me a fresh outlook, but most importantly, connecting and learning about a completely different way of life opened my eyes to the world like never before. Academically, I gained invaluable insights, especially in supply chain management, which perfectly ties into my strategic management career.

“Within my supply chain management internship, I learnt about the Red Sea conflict which has a connection to the war which is happening in Israel and Gaza. Since our supply chain route went through the Red Sea, which is currently blocked off, this meant we had to look for alternative suppliers/routes. I had to grasp a full understanding on the war which really opened my eyes around what is happening around the world.

Advice for the future applicant: “I would tell students to seek discomfort, explore the unknown and take this opportunity as it is once in a lifetime. You will gain so much perspective on the world and an immense amount of self and professional growth!”

Olivia Robinson: Growing through challenges in Colombia

Photo: Olivia Robinson (left) and Georgia Willoughby (right).

Olivia Robinson, 19, majoring in Accounting, found her internship in Colombia transformative. 

"It challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, fostering resilience and confidence," she reflected. 

Olivia's hands-on experience in a dynamic environment enhanced her adaptability and problem-solving skills.

"The internship in Colombia significantly contributed to both my personal and professional development. Professionally, it provided me with hands-on work experience in a diverse and dynamic environment, allowing me to develop practical skills relevant to my field. Additionally, working alongside professionals from different backgrounds exposed me to new perspectives and approaches, enhancing my adaptability and problem-solving abilities.”

On a personal level, Olivia said the internship challenged her to step out of her comfort zone, fostering resilience and confidence. 

“Immersing myself in a different country's culture and work environment has given me a firsthand insight into amazing different cultures and work ways. My internship abroad has not only broadened my horizons but also fuelled my passion for cross-cultural exploration and lifelong learning. It has shown me the transformative power of embracing diversity and seizing opportunities to expand my worldview."

Advice for the future applicant: “Remember to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Embrace them with enthusiasm and curiosity and you'll find yourself on a fulfilling journey of discovery and growth.”

Applications for the 2024 individual scholarship round are now open and close on 19 July 2024. Learn more here.

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