Internship students rise to the challenge during lockdown

Being taken out of their comfort zone helped three Communication internship students thrive during the level four lockdown.

Arts students Tamara Vivian, Thomas Campbell and Liz Lotoa started their Communication internships in March, but like most of New Zealand, had to adapt quickly to a virtual workplace.

Liza Lotoa
Liz Lotoa

Liz Lotoa is studying for a conjoint degree in Law and Politics and International Relations and interned at Netball NZ.

"My internship was an opportunity I will forever be grateful for. Due to the national lockdown, my work changed from an office-based internship involving the archiving of Netball NZ’s historical documents and working with the communications team, to a remote-based research project.

"My project focused on the influence of Māori and Pasifika peoples on the ANZ Premiership teams. I had to research the available literature on Māori and Pasifika participation in sport in NZ, identify and interview a number of individuals who were prominent figures in the ANZ Premiership community, and analyse and synthesise the information from the interviews into a full report.

"Due to lockdown, the experience was incredibly unique, and I was given the opportunity to take the lead on organising and undertaking interviews. This responsibility helped me to develop invaluable communication and organisational skills.

The nature of the internship changed immensely, and it came down to the willingness of those involved to adapt and move forward with the project.

"Once you get your foot in the door in the professional world you realise that a BA is more applicable to many career options than you would initially think. Although I often feel like I lack confidence, the internship helped me to develop this, and I learnt to back myself throughout the project."

Thomas Campbell
Thomas Campbell

Thomas, who is studying for a BA in Communication and Politics and International Relations, interned at Neighbourly.

"It was certainly overwhelming in the first week. Having been employed in hospitality for the past five years there were definitely thoughts of impostor syndrome circling in my mind. Turns out I shouldn’t have worried at all. I worked with a talented, tight-knit team that inspired me every day to get stuck in, do well and try to pump up Neighbourly to the top of the social media charts.

"One of the more major projects I was involved in was the crisis management of Covid-19 on Neighbourly. While many businesses saw a drop in demand, New Zealand couldn’t get enough of Neighbourly. We saw a record 500 sign ups per day for the month of April and we wanted it to be a place to go when face-to-face connections were no longer possible.

It was incredibly rewarding and humbling seeing users get involved with our nationwide campaigns that aimed to encourage interactions between neighbours in their virtual communities.

"When I chose Neighbourly, I’d come into the role thinking that the exec team would be giving me the ‘typical’ intern jobs but it was completely the opposite. I was thrown in the deep end and it couldn’t have been better. I was able to fully immerse myself in the company, work culture and company imperatives."

Tamara, who is studying for a BA in Communication and English, found her dream internship with New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME).

"My workplace ended up being on the couch at home! This was a big change, as it meant I wouldn’t be in a professional work space with a mentor a few desks down. However, I quickly adjusted to the pace of working from home, despite its challenges, and worked together with my NZME mentor to create an internship that could be completed online.

"I was tasked with creating a social media campaign strategy. It included conducting a lot of independent research into the NZME brand style, TikTok as a platform for brand marketing, the relationship between workplace and entertainment on a social media app, finding the target audience and brainstorming creative content ideas.  

I got to create social media posts to announce NZME’s arrival on TikTok.

"My main takeaway was the importance of working hard and being flexible no matter the circumstance. It would have been tempting to slack off considering I was working from home, but it actually pushed me to work harder and prove myself despite the unusual circumstances."