From Summer Lab to land of summer

Carline Bentley credits her experiences at the University of Auckland for helping to broaden her perspectives and give her an appreciation for entrepreneurial education.

Carline Bentley

Carline Bentley is passionate about many things – the environment, badminton (she played competitively) – but mostly, building prosperous communities. She is currently working as an Investment and Trade Advisor for Investment Fiji, the investment and trade promotion agency of the Fijian government. It was only last year that Carline was studying at the University of Auckland. She credits her experiences there for helping to broaden her perspectives, taking back to Fiji an appreciation for entrepreneurial education.

Carline earned a Master of Commerce in Economics, focused on the pledge and review mechanism of the Paris Agreement. “Living in Fiji, climate change is impacting us first-hand, with the rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters, so I really wanted to undertake my dissertation in the area of climate change.” She was studying when she received an email about Summer Lab, a free programme run over summer that teaches participants how to build a venture from scratch. “At the time my degree was getting a bit tough so I figured it would be nice to have some entrepreneurship training under my belt in case I needed a plan B.”

The lasting impact from Summer Lab was coming to the realisation that amazing business ideas come from ordinary people who are not afraid of failure and pivoting when they have to.

At Summer Lab Carline formed a team and worked on their venture idea JellyFash, an online second-hand clothing store targeted toward university students. “The highlights of Summer Lab were getting to learn how to use the 3D printer and other equipment and also getting to learn from our mentor Tracy. The lasting impact from the entire programme was coming to the realisation that amazing business ideas come from ordinary people like you and me who are not afraid of failure and pivoting when they have to.”

Resilience and bravery are the traits of innovation and entrepreneurship that have most stuck with Carline. “I was intrigued by the overall idea of being able to come up with new ideas, being able to get creative with projects and not worry about failing because there can always be a pivot. Going through the typical educational system, you are taught to be afraid of failure and in the real world with anything new, failure is inevitable. Even if I don’t open a business, learning about innovation and entrepreneurship changes your mindset. Great things come from many failed attempts, and this is transferable across all aspects of life.”

Carline highly recommends students participate in programmes like Summer Lab. “You may feel that you don’t have time for it, I thought so too, but taking up these extra activities in addition to sports and a part-time job forced me to better manage my time and resulted in me actually being more productive and achieving good grades.”

Carline says the skills and knowledge she has developed will help her build her future potential. “In the long term, I would like to be a Programme Manager in an organisation that has a key focus of uplifting individuals and bringing them to a level of economic self-sufficiency.” In the meantime she wants to get as much industry experience as she can. “Then potentially, return to the University of Auckland to undertake my PhD. I also want to figure out why my kombucha-making hasn’t been successful.”