Introduction from Kay

Kia ora koutou

It’s been a busy time in the School of Applied Business. I’m pleased to say that our design-thinking approach to matching industry needs with student skill-set development continues to prove a successful formula. This semester alone, we have 32 students doing internships in organisations ranging from NZME to Humes for the Master of Applied Business.

We continually do the mahi to improve on our programmes and are proud of our authentic assessments and internships, which give our students an avenue to work on real-time projects as a springboard to great roles in the industry, even in times of uncertainty and change.

On the note of change, I wanted to touch briefly on the fact that while Unitec transitions to Te Pūkenga as of 1 January 2023, our approach and dedication to learning outcomes remains consistent. We will continue to have our academic and support staff on board to offer our existing programmes and to meet our students’ and industry partners’ needs.

We’re confident our student-centric programmes will continue to set us apart from other institutions, and allow us to instil practical, work-ready skills which make our interns and graduates great hires for our industry partners now and in the future.

I will keep you updated as we progress as Te Pūkenga, as well as the other exciting projects the school is working on. Thank you for your interest in and support of our students and graduates.

Ngā mihi nui,

Kerry Kirkland
Head of the School of Applied Business

 

What is Te Pūkenga

Te Pūkenga is New Zealand’s largest tertiary education provider delivering vocational skills training throughout the country. Unitec is part of Te Pūkenga. From 1 January 2023, all Unitec learners will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga.
You can read more about Te Pūkenga and FAQs around the move on our website here or watch the video below.

 

Toni-Maree Gleason

One of Aotearoa New Zealand’s dominant media organisations knows talent when it shows up: just five weeks into a 12-week internship at NZME to complete her Bachelor of Business Studies in marketing, Toni-Maree Gleason was offered – and accepted – a full-time permanent role in the company’s digital marketing team. Before enrolling at Unitec Toni had been a self-taught marketer, and now, in her mid-40s and with three sons aged eight, 17 and 20, she is ready to throw herself into a renewed career on the other side of tertiary study.

Toni’s story in her own words:

“For seven years before coming to Unitec I was working at the Sleep Store, an online business. I started out picking and packing, then progressed into the marketing team, taking over Instagram and helping out with web content, and loading new products. There were over 6,000 products at the time, and I made sure we represented all the brands well. More recently, I have been working for Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance (AFRA) managing their social media pages, helping support and advocate for the food rescue sector in New Zealand.

“I wanted to study a degree – it’s important to have that to get to the next step. I wanted to get the groundwork done and learn as much as I could, to get the basis to work up from. I thought about it for two years beforehand, whether we could do it on one income. It has been fantastic – it's worked out really well.

“It was a three-year degree and as an adult student it’s my one shot, I’m not mucking around. It was super-challenging to start with and I thought, what am I doing here? A lot of the tech we use in classes I had no idea about before starting to study. My classmates have been amazing, they were 19 or 20 when they started and they would help me at the drop of a hat. I got into the groove of being in class and it got easier as it went along. And lecturers will offer more one-on-one time if you need it. Our classes have a lot of group work, so it’s not intimidating to get answers. I am so comfortable there now it will be weird to not come back next year.

“The teachers and lecturers have been really understanding of time pressures – I have three kids, a small part-time job, and an extra course this semester. And there is financial support and pastoral support for students, so if you're willing to do the work there's no excuse that you wouldn't succeed, they want you to – the teachers are setting you up to succeed and will always give extra help.

“I'd never studied before and it has been a fantastic transition for me, it couldn't have been smoother. It was so scary to come to Unitec but it's been such a nice process. I would love to see more adult students coming in, it's really welcoming and you learn a lot.

“My internship at NZME is in digital performance marketing, so I’m working on Google ads and setting up campaigns for their many clients. I’m doing a separate data project to figure out stats for what can be improved, to come up with reports to show clients and demonstrate what is successful. It was an amazing opportunity just doing the actual internship at NZME, and to have been offered a job takes a lot of pressure off. It’s a large modern organisation that is different to anywhere I've worked, and now to know it will carry on is amazing.

“It’s quite a young team I’m in and really fun, very welcoming. It’s scary when you arrive as an intern but I am part of the team, they are open to sharing how to do stuff. I have been on the same level as everyone else and have found it lovely.

“Because I’m older I don't want to take 20 years to build up a career, I want to step up as fast as I can. As long as it’s in digital marketing I’m going to be happy because I love it – my degree has shown me areas I didn't know existed, from SEO to Google analytics to campaigns. I am getting to know the NZME clients and their accounts and want to get further into it – I love optimising campaigns, understanding their businesses and what we can do better for them. Marketing moves so fast you don't know what you'll be doing in five years, but I'm in the right place.”

 

Kelea Talagi

Kelea Talagi (36) embarked on her Bachelor of Business Studies degree nearly four years ago, when her youngest child was just five. Now her children are eight, 10 and 18, and Kelea is in the midst of a 12-week internship to complete her final two papers and graduate in 2023 with a dual specialisation, in accounting and human resources management.

Kelea’s story in her own words:

“I was a full-time mum until I went to work for an import-export company on the North Shore, but I knew I couldn't progress or earn more there. The universe was telling me it was time to put myself first. I looked into different tertiary institutions and chose Unitec because it offered the courses for the area I wanted to go into – and the campus is 10 minutes from where I live.

“I did a Level 4 paper to test the waters, was successful and really enjoyed it. I originally enrolled in accounting at degree level because I was always interested in it at school, then after my first year I got more into management and enjoyed that area. I discussed it with one of my lecturers and decided to pick up a second major in HR management.

“Now I’m in my final semester and doing my last two papers – business finance and internship-based learning. My current internship at Cybercraft is part of the IBL paper. I had been put on to an organisation called TupuToa, which helps Māori and Pacific students get internships in their final year of study. A lecturer passed my CV on to the CEO of Cybercraft, and I spoke with her. I think what got me through the door [to the internship] was my life experience; the CEO related to me balancing children and school.

“The internship runs for 12 weeks and I am working on a project to support the upskilling of current and new employees at Cybercraft, which recently hired three new people. I am researching different platforms for upskilling that are in the market and seeing what is fit for purpose, then I get to present my findings and make a recommendation to Cybercraft. When I finish there [around the end of September], I can submit my project to the school.

“I’m now interviewing for a full-time job with a large organisation. I am looking at HR roles, I’d like to go into an organisation where I can dip my toe into different areas of HR management.

“It’s been a quick four years. I often reflect on what's happened in these years, I blinked and now I’m nearly graduating. It has been a great experience in the School of Applied Business, I’ve really enjoyed my time there. I was fortunate to be chosen to mentor some first-year students, which was a paid position. It was exciting and good for the CV.

“I think about the friends I’ve met, the lecturers I’ve met and have formed some friendships with. Before going into study I was always nervous being a mature learner, but at Unitec there are so many people like me, PI people – I gravitate towards my community. There are other full-time mums with the same goals who see a golden ticket at the end of graduation, and they all worked just as hard as me.

“I have built up a vault of friendships, experience, and knowledge that I can apply in the real world. Doors have opened up with mentoring and internships. It was not easy but I am fortunate to have strong support system at home, and if I was struggling to balance everything there was someone at school to help me.

“The student support has added to what I've accomplished so far, and there are support systems in place including for Pasifika students. In my first and second year I was fortunate enough to get an academic excellence scholarship to help myself and my family, which contributed $2,000 per year. I gave up a paying job that helped support my family [to pursue my studies] so the extra money really made a difference.

“[To other people contemplating doing what I did] I would say go for it – putting in the hard work is all worth it in the end. I get to work on a real-time project and apply what I've learned over the years, and I can see the past few years have been worth it.”