Sometimes the best opportunities in life are simply down to being in the right place at the right time. For business student Nick Badger, carpooling from the University of Waikato’s Tauranga campus over to Hamilton late last year turned out to be a fortuitous journey, in more ways than one.
With only a few weeks to find a local company willing to take him on for a summer placement, Nick expressed concern to classmate and carpool buddy Josiah Hansen that he’d been pounding the pavement with no joy. Josiah suggested Nick apply for a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (PMSA) for a shot at an overseas internship instead. With only a couple of weeks until the application deadline, Nick put together a CV and cover letter and hoped for the best. When he got word he was one of five Waikato students, and the only one from Tauranga, to be awarded a PMSA to Vietnam, Nick was “fizzing” with excitement.
"I literally went from handing out CVs in Tauranga to packing my bags for Ho Chi Minh City - it was awesome, laughs Nick.
Funded by the New Zealand government and administered by Education New Zealand, the PMSA programme aims to strengthen ties with Asia and improve the internationalisation of New Zealand tertiary institutions. The scholarships cover the students' study or work fees, travel and accommodation costs. Nick’s eight-week internship was organised through international work experience provider CRCC Asia. He flew to Vietnam in December and took up his internship with YAN Digital, a multimedia digital company with one of the largest reaches in Vietnam. After a whirlwind eight weeks interning, with another couple tacked on for sightseeing, Nick started back on campus last week to get stuck into the final year of his Bachelor of Management Studies. While his feet may have touched down Nick’s still flying high after his Asia experience.
“There were many highlights on every level ─the cultural agility, beautiful weather and stunning food were all part of the experience,” he says.Hedescribes the internship as a “profound learning curve”. Having majors in Strategic Management and Leadership Communication, Nick helped in developing strategy for YAN’s 2019 direction. He was placed in the marketing department working closely with the Chief Strategy Officer, and other staff, on projects to engage the company’s youth audience.
“YAN has around 47 million followers across its platforms, with monthly internet sessions reaching up to 350 million,” says Nick. “Learning from established team members and also being thrust into the deep end to share my unique perspective was humbling, challenging, inspiring and hugely beneficial for my professional development.” Nick also enjoyed a company culture that valued risk taking. “Not careless risk taking,” he points out, “But allowing staff to try new things without being afraid to fail.”
Unlike his fellow PMSA recipients, Nick was well-rehearsed in Asian culture. Before he started tertiary studies in Tauranga, Nick had worked for Youth with a Mission in Australia and the Bay of Plenty for nearly 10 years. A large part of his role involved coordinating youth missions to carry out humanitarian work in slums across South East Asia. One of the reasons he applied for the PMSA was to witness first-hand the changes influenced by the region’s economic, technological and industrial boom.
“It was great to see a country that has experienced such hardship rising into prosperity, growth and hope for a brighter future,” says Nick. “Many multinational corporates are setting up in Vietnam, so over the next 20-30 years, I have no doubt that it will continue to grow, expand and rise into its potential. The best is clearly yet to come for Vietnam.” To that end, Nick says he wouldn’t rule out working in Asia again once he’s graduated.
Nick is back into study mode and, effusive in his praise of the opportunities the PMSA presented, he encourages other students to consider applying. “I would 100% recommend all students check out the criteria for the PMSA as well as other overseas exchange and scholarship opportunities. Just apply and see what happens, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Two rounds of Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (PMSA) and Latin America (PMSLA) recipients are announced each year. The application deadline for the next round is 30 March 2019. The University of Waikato also offers several student exchange opportunities, allowing you to take one or two semesters of your degree at one of our partner universities around the world. There are a number of Faculty Exchange Scholarships and Waikato OE Travel Awards you can apply for, and you might also be eligible for an allowance or student loan for overseas study through StudyLink.