Law and Global Studies student Paris Seu talks about her Tupu Tai internship and goals for the future.
My name is Paris Seu. I am a New Zealand born Samoan. I am second generation on my mother’s side and third generation on my fathers. Both my parents are Samoan also. Being the eldest of 6 children, I’ve always my hands full. I grew up on the North Shore and attended Westlake Girls high school. I am currently in my fourth year at the University of Auckland studying a Bachelor of Law and Global Studies conjoint (majoring in Spanish and International Relations and Business).
All throughout my schooling years I wanted to be a doctor. However, when I got to university and did pre-med, I discovered that it wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. That was a hard thing to accept, having catered all my studies up until that point towards becoming a doctor. But after pondering on where my passions really lay and what I was genuinely interested in, so I switch to Law, which is a subject I’ve always been intrigued by.
I watched a lot of shows that made me think it would be cool and have often been told that I have a knack for arguing. On a more serious note, I have always been interested in understanding how our legal systems work and how they affect people as a result. I wanted to be able to learn in depth the intricacies of these systems and see where I could potentially fit in these spaces. Global Studies was a degree that I felt paired well with Law. I have always been intrigued in global governance as well as the inequitable and unjust structures that perpetuate global issues. I wanted to establish a more well-rounded foundation of study that could guide my approach to solving existing issues in ways perhaps never thought of before. I felt as though Global Studies was the best discipline to help me develop these skills, and also one that encouraged the progression of my own unique perspectives.
In all honesty, when I began my studies I was quite set on working for a law firm. I still am hoping to be able to have the chance to do so, however I’m not so narrow minded anymore. There are limitless opportunities in the workforce to hone in on and apply the skills I’ve acquired. I now just hope to be able to work in any space that challenges me to expand these skills.
My parents have always encouraged me to pursue my goals and be a high achiever. They have influenced me in the sense that their hopes for me to be the best I can be, has pushed me to seek a livelihood not only founded upon my own personal passions and interests, but supported by a well-established education.
While I was studying, I became aware of the Tupu Tai programme through a friend who had suggested attending the information zoom. When I did, I realised that CDES had been running it. I reached out to Pepe Afeaki who was the coordinator for that particular Tupu Tai meeting. I went to her to seek advice about the application process, my CV, cover letter, interview tips, and more. I had been in constant contact with her throughout the process of applying for Tupu Tai and I honestly doubt I would have been successful in my application without her support. Booking constant meetings at CDES really helped with not only refining my preparation for each part of the process but also my confidence in approaching each phase.
For the Tupu Tai internship, I was interviewed in an online zoom meeting. It was quite intimidating to be completely honest. More so because I didn’t have any solid idea of what to expect. I could only prepare as best I could and let things unfold as they would. We were given potential questions for the interview, so I relied on those to guide me in possible answers. I made sure to think of experiences I had in the past which showcased certain skills they were likely looking for and kept those in mind. I had practiced explaining myself in a manner that was concise but effective to ensure that I wasn’t just nervously rambling.
Getting into the interview was actually decent. I found once I had begun, the nerves faded for the most part and all I had to do was be myself. Trust in what I have achieved and what I brought to the table and let that speak for itself. The panel were fortunately understanding and patient with me even when I needed a moment to collect my thoughts or to give my answers. They also made me feel comfortable which helped with my interview in general.
I was successful in my application to the Tupu Tai internship, and it was genuinely one of the best and most enlightening experiences I’ve ever had. The amount of support you receive throughout the programme is unmatched. I was fortunate enough to be placed at the Ministry of Defence over the summer and could not have asked for a better team of people around me. It’s easy to feel intimidated and unsure of how much to expect. However, there is a network of support behind you, especially from the Tupu Tai team who are there to assist and advocate for you in any capacity they can.
I had invaluable experiences throughout the programme that honestly helped me to grow both in the workspace and as an individual. I was given the chance to use my voice and to offer my perspectives on projects I never thought I would have the opportunity to work on. I worked with teams who really challenged me to upskill and to reach my potential but always did so in a manner that was comforting and supportive. It made me realise just how valuable my experiences as a Pasifika woman were to these spaces.
Being in meetings and looking around seeing unfamiliar faces, more specifically a lack of representation of people that look like you, can be intimidating. But I’ve realised that that’s why we’re needed and what makes our roles so important. Our opinions are necessary and it’s essential to put ourselves in these spaces to better represent the communities we serve.
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from this experience - and definitely the highlight for me – was the people. The connections you make both with those in the workforce but also your peers. There are many people I met along the way and those foundational networks that extend beyond my placement or the three months I was in the programme. I feel fortunate to have met so many amazing, inspirational, knowledgeable people and even more blessed to be fostering so many of those relationships even now. I would highly recommend this programme to anyone who is interested.
Generally, the advice I would give to others is to be patient. I’ve learnt that there are limitless opportunities out there that we aren’t given enough exposure to as students. Often we feel pressured to meet deadlines that we place on ourselves to figure things out, to have our dream job, to attain whatever version of success we feel is attributable to us. However, the fastest way to get to where you want to be is slowly. Take the time to figure out where it is that you really want to be and use the resources available to help you. Reach out to student advisors, CDES consultants, alumni, etc. There are so many people who are willing to help you and want to see you succeed. Use them.
Don’t be afraid to apply for as much as you can. More importantly, don’t be afraid of rejection. There are so many spaces that need you and are looking for people who have your skillset and your perspectives. One door closes and another one opens. Don’t limit yourself. Just apply.
The last thing would just be to bring your whole self. You have intrinsic value just by virtue of being who you are. Don’t try and conform or hide what you bring to the table. Capitalise on your strengths, your unique perspectives, core values, beliefs, the things that drive you personally. Be authentic about who you are and use that. You’d be surprised by how many spaces are looking for people who are willing to do that.
If you're interested in career opportunities and activities we have available to support our Pacific students, please get in touch with our Careers and Employability consultant for Pacific students, Sela Pole-Fehoko.