Student Story: Tharaka Munidasa

Tharaka talks about the Glenn Family Foundation HELPS Programme and his personal experience with global internships.

With the Find Purpose Volunteering in Asia & the Story of Cooperative Microfinance Success in Sri Lanka event coming up on Monday 18 November, we took some time to chat to University of Auckland alumni Tharaka Munidasa who we met when he was accepted on to a CDES internship programme. He’s certainly one to watch! Not only did Tharaka set up the Glenn Family Foundation HELPS Programme in Sri Lanka; but he continues to work there as a Project Manager/Advisor; as well as being an Infrastructure Advisory Consultant at Aurecon. Tharaka’s also joined the Leadership Network at the Asia New Zealand Foundation and has been selected as one of the ’25 to Watch’ to develop relationships between New Zealand and Asia. This guy doesn’t sit still for long!

"As part of my role at the Glenn Family Foundation HELPS Programme, I’m fortunate to be speaking at Monday’s event. Where I’ll be sharing my story of setting up the Glenn Family Foundation HELPS Programme in Sri Lanka; and discussing the importance of Human Design Centered Thinking and how it translates into work and future opportunities. I’ll talk about how the HELPS Programme is looking to partner with more organisations to expand the programme across Asia – there will also be speakers who have been involved with China, Nepal and India. As well as how future volunteers can get involved with our programmes. I can’t wait!

"During my time at University of Auckland, I was fortunate enough to spend time in several cities across USA and China through internships arranged by Career Development Employability Services (CDES). I cannot rate overseas internships highly enough! Not only did I learn both how to network and build relationships that can open doors in the future; I developed the skills to be able to communicate and embrace diversity and inclusion. My experiences gave me the cultural intelligence and awareness to adapt in any situation; and further grow my independence – which happens quickly when you’re working in an agile and fast-paced environment!

"My perspective changed as a result of the global internships. I was able to understand how to step back in a situation and see the bigger picture. Sometimes people tend to get caught up in the moment and not consider all options. My approach to problem-solving stemmed from my internship experiences overseas. I constantly draw from my insights from travelling and incorporate them into my professional work.

Being in a foreign environment puts pressure on you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, as you can’t rely on the comfortability of your normal routine. Through this, I found my core values and passions, which have set me down my current path. 

"The global internships showed me the importance of international development; as the exponential growth of technology is allowing the world to become more globalised. You learn how another culture behaves and operates, which is valuable in itself but also helps you understand and connect with a variety of people (which is fundamental in business). If you can harness this, the professional world is your oyster!"

Event Details

Find Purpose Volunteering in Asia & the Story of Cooperative Microfinance Success in Sri Lanka 
Monday 18 November 
University of Auckland Business School, Decima Glenn
Room 260-310, 12 Grafton Road