As the year winds down, we caught up with BCOM student Shisla MacLeod, who has just completed her third and final year of study, majoring in International Business and Economics.
A self-proclaimed introvert who moved from Brazil to Auckland when she was only 13, Shisla credits her internships, extra-curricular courses through the 360 office and club networking events with helping her discover what career path she wants for forge for herself. Check out her full story below!
Why did you choose this degree and did you know what you wanted to do career wise?
Originally I chose this degree after studying Business and Economics in high school. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do, but knew I was good at that and thought it couldn’t hurt to try it out.
I also began studying Law, but it felt too constricting and soon discovered it wasn’t for me. However, I was passionate about working at an international level and consistently enjoyed my BCOM papers.
You’ve currently been undertaking a number of internships, can you tell us a little more about these?
I am currently undertaking two internships, one for Disability Connect and another for NZ Tonga Business Council.
Disability Connect is a non-profit organisation that specialises in the disability sector, providing information, support and lobbying the government. Working twice a week since August in the role of Communications and Administration Assistant, I have undertaken varied tasks with no one day the same. From database maintenance, to event management for their Transition Expo – my most prized task to date was writing and designing their first ever impact report for funders and potential funders. Knowing the template I created is being read, and will continue to be used for years to come, is extremely rewarding and feels like I have left something good behind.
During my internship for the NZ Tonga Business Council (NZTBC), I was able to work remotely. Starting in November, I worked 10 hours per week for a period of 6 weeks, supporting the council with marketing and promotion of future events, alongside website maintenance and event planning. Due to the flexible nature of this role, I was able to gain work experience alongside my studies which was hugely advantageous!
Having initially thought becoming an Economist was the most suitable path to my studies, I have actually come to find there are heaps of different career options where I can apply my degree. What I am certain of, is that I want to work in an environment where I am surrounded by different cultures and norms, facilitating trade and encouraging development.
Application processes can be tough. How did you navigate the process for your internships?
My application for Disability Connect was the first application where I sought help from the CDES team. Having previously applied for others, and having not had much luck I thought I’d reach out.
The application for both of these internships was much more enjoyable, as it felt like you were getting somewhere from the start (it involved a simple email with my CV and cover letter). My previous application experience included psychometric testing and long forms which took hours to complete and left me feeling extremely unmotivated.
After attempting to apply for roles that have a really long application process, I decided I would only do this if I was extremely eager for the position. I then decided to focus on applying for internships that had a more human touch, as at the time I did not have any experience and was actually looking for a chance to see what is out there.
And what about the interview process? How did you find it?
It was pretty relaxed. With Disability Connect the process was a bit scarier, as it was my first ever internship. I went into the office and met with the CEO and his assistant. They were really lovely, however, and I felt at ease. I had also taken a workshop from CDES on interviews which assisted me in feeling confident.
For the NZTBC, the process was even easier! They basically knew they would hire me from my CV and CL, and the interview was more centred on getting familiar with the tasks themselves.
It’s great you reached out to CDES for support with your application – but when did you first hear about us?
I have a feeling I heard about CDES at the start of my university journey, however I don’t think I paid much attention to it. I wish I had! I really started engaging with them in this past year, and it has really assisted with my career development.
What made you eventually seek help with the CDES team and how did we support you?
I actually checked my email from CDES and saw the opportunity, and decided to apply. Out of interest, I also checked out further assistance – such as CV help, etc. I then decided to apply for one of the workshops, which was super helpful!
What was the outcome of that help from CDES?
It made the whole concept of applying for a job, interview, etc a lot less daunting. It assisted me with understanding what employers want a how I can portray what I have in these terms.
For students still studying or looking for work, have you got any advice that might help them?
Yes I do! I was one of you not so long ago. Many people jump head first into their degree without actually knowing exactly what to do with them - and that is totally normal.
My advice is to take advantage of as many opportunities, make as
many connections and try as many new things as you can. After all, it wasn’t
until I worked in a non-profit, social enterprise and a private company that I
realised what I wanted to do. And it wasn’t until I experienced these that I
had the ability to choose where I wanted to work.
So, experiences are super important – and even if it still something that isn’t 100% what you want to do, it could open paths to something else.
Also, it wasn’t until the start of my last year that I fully understood how important connections are. As an introvert, it’s daunting walking into a room of people you don’t know – but you will be surprised at how fun networking events can be. Put yourself out there, meet new people, and I promise that you will open doors to so many more opportunities and finding your path.
Any final words of wisdom?
Get yourself familiar with the resources out there! The courses I did through the 360 office, the advice from CDES, the people I met through University Clubs - they are all as important for your university experience, as your degree and will go a long way in help to develop yourself.
Thanks Shisla and good luck with your new part-time roles as a Research Assistant at the University of Auckland, and an Assistant Consultant to a start-up social enterprise.