Allanah Petersen

We caught up with Maori and Pacifica student Allanah Petersen, who has just landed herself an amazing graduate role with Deloitte, where she will be working as a Technology Consultant.

Before she embarks on her new, exciting career path, we find out how she got to where she is today and her plans for the future. 

Congratulations on the role Allanah, can you tell us a little more about yourself and what you studied?
Talofa lava, lo’u igoa o Allanah Petersen ma oute sau mai i alalafaga nei o Leusoalii Luatuanu'u Anoama'a, Lotofaga Aleipata, Sapunaoa Falealili ma Fusi Safata.

Hello, my name is Allanah Petersen and I come from these villages, Leusoalii Luatuanu Anoama, Lotofaga Aleipata, Sapunaoa Falealili and Fusi Safata.

I graduated with a double major degree in Computer Science and Information Systems.

What drove you to choose your degree?
Having received the University of Auckland’s Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship for top Maori and Pacific Scholars in Year 13, selecting a degree that would determine how successful I am in the future, was the main priority for me.

I never thought I would have gone down the path of Computer Science and Information Systems. Given that I had a strong interest and understanding in Physics, Calculus and Chemistry, I originally had the idea that I would study Engineering. However, after meeting Jasmine Evaroa through the scholarship (who is now a very close friend of mine) she introduced me to computer science.

Before fully committing to computer science, I decided to take the degree for a test drive by completing COMPSCI 101. Thankfully, it paid off and from that one course I found my passion, discovering a new profound love for logic, reasoning, programming, computer language, digital technology and security systems.

Tell us a little more about the role and what you’re most looking forward to or nervous about.
I received a Graduate role with Deloitte, as a Technology Consultant. The role will be based in Wellington and although I am really excited, having never lived away from my parents for a long period of time, I’m also extremely nervous.

Having said that, I am looking forward to the independent life. I never imagined my first job being based so far away from home and always pictured working somewhere close by in Auckland, eventually travelling in and out for work. This will be a brand new adventure and I’m looking forward to all the doors it will open for me.

Did you apply for many graduate roles prior to being offered this role?
Yes, I actually applied for a lot of jobs and graduate roles whilst studying but received a lot of decline letters. I didn’t let these knockbacks stop me from applying, even though once COVID hit it felt like no one wanted to hire a graduate, but I kept reminding myself of all my hard work and achievements but most importantly, my parents’ hard work to help get me where I was

What is your advice to others who have experienced knockbacks?
When I would get an unsuccessful email, I would take a break from applying for a day. I would instantly feel like a failure, before I gave myself a pep talk and work smarter the following day.

After one job interview in particular, I felt pretty confident having been told by one of the recruiters that he believes I have a high chance of getting the role. However, the next day I got an email declining me of the position and was devastated to say the least. I decided to ask for feedback and can still remember word for word what I was told: “Oh Allanah it says here that you did well in everything. I can’t seem to find anything bad in the feedback form which I believe means that you may not have enough life experience for this role.”

This feedback was my biggest setback, and I started questioning my own self. It was then that I decided to seek help from Pepe Afeaki at CDES. Pepe was such a carefree and supportive person whom I felt comfortable around. Pepe sent my CV out to recruiters she knew and helped me to network. Through her help and one day after meeting her, I received an email from Deloitte inviting me for an interview.

What was the interview process like?
As soon as I heard from Deloitte, I immediately told Pepe, and she helped provide tips and tricks on how to answer questions, what to research and how I should engage with the interviewers.

My first interview was quite daunting, but a minute into introductions, I felt relaxed as the interviewers had a great sense of humor, making me more comfortable to speak freely about what I can offer to the company. I then got a call from the recruiting team inviting me for a final, in-person interview.

I was pretty nervous before my second interview - I felt like I was so close, yet so far. I had a good feeling that there was a possibility of being hired, but I pushed it away as I didn’t want to be disappointed yet again. The interview was really informal, and it felt like a normal conversation you would have with another colleague over coffee.

How did the CDES team help you with your application and the interview process?Pepe helped me more than I could ever imagined. She is such a genuinely supportive person who, I believe, is the reason behind me being offered this position. Having someone, other than your family, remind you how well and far you have come means so much, which is exactly what Pepe did.

My first interview took place during COVID and Pepe set up zoom meetings to help get a better understanding of where I am at. She sent me useful resources to help prepare for my interviews, whilst also looking over my CV and Cover letter and gave me pointers of where I needed improvement. I believe the main thing I am most grateful for from Pepe in CDES is her support and belief in me that I could do anything.

What’s your advice to students who are unsure what to do with their degree after graduation?
It’s super important to go into your job hunt with an open mind. A degree can only get you so far in life, so make the most of your time at University by taking up small projects, part--time or voluntary work in your spare time, adding value to your degree and CV.

It is a very competitive workforce, and it’s definitely true when people say “It’s not about what you know, but who you know”. Your degree and skills are “what you know”, but CDES will definitely help you with “who you know”.

Working with CDES when you are job hunting is the smartest thing you could do. CDES puts you ahead of others in the application process and makes you stand out! If you are looking to work smarter and not harder, then CDES is the answer.    

Allanah Petersen

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?
I see myself working in the Pacific Islands. Through working for the Former Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, it has opened my eyes to the endless opportunities and improvements requiring our close attention in the Pacific Islands. I hope to be able to lead large tech companies, and open a wider door in Computer Science and Information Systems for all Pacific Island Females.

Any final words of wisdom before you embark on your next step?
Network. I always try to work smarter. So, when networking, you are selling your name to big companies without the need of going through an application process. It’s like a fast-track for job hunting.

Also, I cannot stress enough how important it is to do something you love. Or if not, then do something you are good at. When you love something you do, you are more willing to take risks, you are always trying to find ways to better yourself and improve. Find your “WHY” and everything you do will have value to it.

Good luck Allanah on your next endeavor, thank you for sharing your story so far with us! We can’t wait to see you leading a tech company in a few years’ time.

If you’d like to take Allanah’s advice and meet with one of our Career Development Consultants, then head over to MyCDES now to book an appointment or pop in and see us Monday – Friday between 8.30am and 4.30pm, on level 1 in the Kate Edgar Building.