Student Stories: Alex Saifiti

Alex Saifiti, Graduate Property Specialist at Auckland Transport, looks back on his time at university and the support he received from CDES.

"After finishing college, I initially planned to study a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce. I wanted to complete a conjoint degree and the Arts majors Sociology and Criminology interested me. However, after checking out a property presentation at the Courses and Careers Day, I was impressed by the support and employment opportunities offered by the property department. The property degree complemented my commerce majors well and created a point of difference I knew would help open up a range of employment opportunities after university.  

"After four years of study, I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Commercial Law & Management) and Bachelor of Property. I am now a Graduate Property Specialist in Auckland Transport’s Early Careers Programme. The programme is 3 years long: including 6 months in a ‘home team’, 3 x 6-month rotations and then 12 months back in the ‘home team’. In my first year, I have learnt a lot and been challenged to think outside the box. I have worked on projects that have provided tangible outcomes and benefits for Aucklanders. The role is continually evolving and I look forward to my future rotations. 

"I first heard about Career Development and Employability Services (CDES) in my first year of university. Like many other first years, I was looking for guidance around where my degree could take me and what I should major in. The CDES team were readily available and gave genuine advice and feedback. Throughout my time at university, I received advice for LinkedIn, CV checks, scholarship applications, interview workshops and internship opportunities.

Without the help of CDES, I would not have received some of the jobs and scholarships I applied for, so I am very grateful for it.

"I had the opportunity to be interviewed for scholarships, paid and voluntary roles – some were one-on-one, others were panels and group interviews. Through my university club roles, I also had the chance to be on the other side of the interview table – interviewing applicants. Being prepared by attending interview workshops, researching the role and organisation, helped calm my nerves and allowed me to bring my best self to each interview, including the interview for my current role.

"When I look back on my time at university, I think it’s important for students to know not to underestimate the value of part-time jobs like those in hospitality and retail. Learn from these roles and apply your experiences in your interview answers. Keep an eye out for opportunities and be willing to apply. Even if you do not get the role, you will learn a lot about your strengths and weaknesses – which you can use to prepare for future job applications and interviews.

"I think it’s important not to rush into anything. Take your time, make well-informed decisions and seek advice from services like CDES, mentors, friends and family. Remember, no matter what degree you choose – it is your ability to learn, adapt and work with others that will shape where you go. Additionally, knowing who you are and the values you stand for is important in shaping where you see yourself working. For me, my background and heritage continue to shape me as an individual. I am 1/4 Samoan, 1/4 Māori and 1/2 European and I think being proud of who I am culturally, helps me stay grounded in my decision-making and work life.

"Even to this day, I am not sure where my career will take me and that is okay. I am taking as many opportunities as I can – like being involved with Toastmasters and learning te reo Māori. I look forward to continual learning and development, and being challenged in my future work!"