Seven ways interns can be great for business

New Zealand’s fastest growing university is promoting internships as a way for employers to build capability and strengthen their talent pipeline. Through a network of alumni and international connections, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is connecting its graduates with career-starting opportunities in New Zealand and internationally.

Its employer-intern matching service AUT Internz began as a way for graduating AUT students to compete for AUT scholarships to intern for top global brands across a range of industries in the US. It has since provided life-changing experiences to 70 graduates who have jetted to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and now also Vancouver – after graduation day to work for industry leaders like Facebook, Apple, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paramount Recording Studios and the Sundance Institute. 

Here are 7 ways interns from AUT can help improve your business:

1. Test an idea

Interns can be an efficient and cost-effective resource when developing new products or testing a prototype on your market.

Unleashed Software in Takapuna used a team of interns to work on an extention to a product. “It was something some customers have been looking for,” says Lisa Miles-Heal, CTO and GM of Unleashed Software. “But because we were not quite sure it was going to be successful as they say it’s going to be, we thought, ‘we’ll use some interns and get a mimimum viable product in front of some customers and we’ll see how it goes.’”

Within three months, the interns were involved in scoping requirements, coming up with the technical design, developing the product extension and demonstrating it.

2. Diversify your team

US companies enjoy bringing graduates from AUT into their work environments. The same applies for New Zealand companies who take on an AUT international student, says Head ot AUT Internz, Ella Monahan. 

“There’s a big opportunity for New Zealand companies with an eye to international markets to take on an AUT international student. They offer cultural understanding of a specific market and a language advantage. International students are often have overseas experience, are eligible to work here and have a real hunger for New Zealand work experience.”

3. Keep up with the play

An intern is a recent graduate or someone very close to graduating, so you know their knowledge in their chosen field will be current, they will possess fresh technical skills and be across trends in your industry.

PR and Social Media Executive at JUCY Group Alisha Palin is impressed that JUCY’s intern Taylor Mansfield has been able to work across many different parts of the business. “He’s worked in the marketing department doing amazing videos for us, he’s gone out to the branches and gotten to know the branch staff, he’s worked really well with the sales team and done some really great projects for them.”

4. A shot of fresh thinking

Having a fresh approach on a project or team can breathe new life into ‘the way things are done.’  Supporting a student or a recent graduate to build their confidence and share perspectives with you can be rewarding and sustain the future of your organisation. 

Creative Director of FCB West, Karen Onsager Birch has welcomed two sets of creative advertising graduates to San Francisco to intern and work on campaigns for major brands. She says: “Tom and Deborah have been with us for three months and it has been an absolute pleasure. These guys have really contributed in a huge way with great ideas, great insight and fun energy.” 

Lisa Miles-Heal of Unleashed Software says having young talent in the building is important to keep her team fresh. “We like to think we’re quite good at what we do but it’s great to have new ideas and new talent, it brings new ideas, new perspectives, new learnings.”

5. Mind the gap

Hiring an intern can provide an efficient way to fill a skills-gap in your organisation, enabling businesses to achieve more.

Krystal Cooper from corporate restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper in New York has employed four interns from AUT. “Matt has been doing a lot of pitch work for us, helping to put together research and presentations so that we can go out and win that project. He has become an integral part of the team,” she says.

6. Spot the star

Seeing someone in action is a good way to spot talent. “By nature, there is no promise of a job at the end of an internship,” says Head of AUT Internz, Ella Monahan. “But they might be so good you just can’t let them go.”

Kea is among the employers who have benefited from this approach. “Linh came on as an intern and then someone left in a full time role so she quickly rolled into a wider brief managing our World Class New Zealand team,” says Global CEO Craig Donaldson.

7. Send the elevator back down

Head of AUT Internz, Ella Monahan says AUT is finding opportunities for its graduates using its network of supporters and alumni in global businesses.

“Remember the people who provided you with career-changing opportunities? Offering someone with raw talent a leg-up into your organisation or industry gives you the chance to be that person and pay it forward.”

Contact AUT today to build your talent pipeline with interns from AUT.