Putting theory into practice

12 August 2010

Theory Group

Management interns: Kicking off Waikato Management Schools internship programme, front row, students Sara Muggeridge, Yatin Mehra and Poh Geok Teo. Back row, Glyndwr Jones Waikato Management School and WaikatoLink managers Bram Smith and Nigel Slaughter.

Employers often say they wish graduates had more practical experience to complement their university studies. In an effort to fix the situation, Waikato University Management School has developed an internship programme for its top students.  

Senior lecturer Glyndwr Jones says they’re offering organisations, including not-for-profit and voluntary organisations, a great resource - top students who are keen to learn. “It’s a great way for businesses to draw on bright young people and maybe to take a look at them as possible employees. It’s a win-win situation. We get to improve the relevance and applicability of our management graduates and businesses get to tap into our first rate students.”

Jones says an organisation must have a real, challenging project where the intern becomes part of the team. Their manager acts as a mentor and assessor of their work.

“Students don’t just enrol in this paper; they have to apply and be interviewed. It’s open to students nearing the end of their Bachelor of Management Studies degree who have achieved academically but more importantly have demonstrated extra-curricular achievements,” he says.

Shortlisted students are then matched with a local organisation that will carry out the second stage of the interview process. If the student meets their needs, an internship eventuates.

The first three management interns have joined WaikatoLink, the commercialisation arm of the University and Jones, who’s administering the internships with the Marketing Department’s Janet Davey, is keen to place more students with other organisations in the region.

At WaikatoLink, students Sara Muggeridge and Poh Geok Teo work a day and a half each week carrying out market research, looking at the commercial viability of new technologies discovered by Waikato University researchers. “We’re doing market and patent research and writing reports. We don’t get paid but what we’re learning is extremely valuable,” says Muggeridge who’s majoring in strategic management and human resources.

Poh Geok Teo, who’s studying strategic management and economics, says it’s a good feeling to know the work they’re doing is realistic and useful. “You have to be willing to learn and ask questions. The good thing is you learn a lot and at the same time you’re making a contribution to something important.”

Yatin Mehra says while he’s learnt a lot through his accounting and strategic management papers, he can’t believe what he’s picked up on the job. “In half an hour I felt like I’d acquired a whole new set of skills. I’m working for a data mining company based in Auckland. The job requires a lot of research and because the client’s not here most of the time I’m working alone. That’s testing my discipline and application, which is a good thing.”

Nigel Slaughter, GM Commercial at WaikatoLink, is pleased with the capability and enthusiasm of the interns. “They’re not only gaining experience but, thanks to the speed with which they’re picking things up, they are also adding significant capacity to our business.”

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