Maata knew she wanted to work at one of the 'Big Four' from the first moment she heard about them.
Career: Tax Consultant, KPMG
Programme: Bachelor of Commerce
Majors: Commercial Law and Taxation
Why a BCom?
“I’d started my business degree at the University of Waikato, and was there for two years, but then I had my daughter, so I took a break from university. When I started back up, I enrolled at the University of Auckland and I wish I had done my whole degree there.
“It was exactly what I was looking for. When I did my first commercial law and taxation courses, I knew instantly that those were what I wanted to major in. I was able to transfer all my courses over, so I could finish my degree in two years, and didn’t have to start from scratch.
“I was so interested and amazed by all the new information I was learning. I could see how my majors related to real life and how what I was learning applied to specific issues, and I knew that this is what I wanted to have a career in.
I could see how my majors related to real life and how what I was learning applied to specific issues, and I knew that this is what I wanted to have a career in.
The value of extracurricular activities
“I was older than other people in my classes, and I had my daughter, so when I started, I thought I was only going to university for the degree, and that is it. But then I got involved with extracurricular activities. I started to tutor first year students at the drop in sessions the Business School ran, and then became a tutor in the Toroa programme for Māori and Pacific students.
Paying it forward
“I was also part of the executive team at Commerce 'o Pasifika, the student run Pacific club. Through these and from my own experiences, I realized I wanted to help other Pacific students in their university journey.
“The University has so many free resources for students, both for during their time at university and for when they are graduating and applying for jobs. I was able to use all of them and found them so helpful, and I wanted other Pacific students to have the same experience.
“Helping people out was one of the most enjoyable parts of university for me. I loved being a mentor, especially for Pacific people because I know that sometimes we feel like we can’t achieve something but at university, we can. They have the resources to help. And encouraging other Pacific to use those resources, to apply for scholarships, and internships was really important to me.
“Every time I would talk to another student I would be asking them if they knew about this scholarship, or this career resources. Scholarships especially are so important. They take a little time and effort, but it is so worthwhile, especially because there are so many you are automatically eligible for.
There's heaps of scholarships, not just in your first year, but throughout your study as well. There are associations and people that can help and support you.
“I still work with the University as much as possible to talk to students and share my experiences. I am also part of KPMG’s Kiwa Mentoring Programme, where Māori and Pacific students get placed with a member of the grad programme and attend workshops and events.
A representative for Pacific people
“I now work as a Tax Consultant at KPMG. I knew I wanted to work at one of the Big Four from the first moment I heard about them; I wanted to work for a company that was at the top of their field. And I was determined to get a grad role at KPMG. When I got an interview there, I was so happy.
“And I realized that the things I had done and gone through had made me want to be a representative for Pacific people, especially in a corporate environment. I feel like people sometimes people feel discouraged and think ‘I shouldn’t even apply to these programmes, I'm not even going to get in,’ and I wanted to be that Pacific representation, and show people ‘she’s in that position – if she can do it, I can do it. I do have the potential to be there.’
“It's been a blessing for me and my family. We went through a lot of adversity when I was growing up, and now I'm able to pay it back and help out my dad, who did so much for us. And I am able to show my daughter stability, which is something I didn’t have as a kid.
“My dad worked so hard and did the best he could, but now I am trying to create a better environment for my daughter, one I couldn’t have.
“This is probably something that I will tell my daughter when she grows up, but enjoy the experience at university. In your first year, you might not know exactly what to study but find something you enjoy or are passionate about, because if you aren’t enjoying what you are studying, you will not want to be there.
“And know that there's a lot of help. A lot of free help that's available to you. There's heaps of scholarships, not just in your first year, but throughout your study as well. There are associations and people that can help and support you. Make connections with those people, and with your peers. Enjoy your journey.”