When you’re starting out in your career, being able to demonstrate that you’ve got some experience can make all the difference, as former business intern Edward Smith has found.
Edward took up a three-month Foundation internship with marketing firm Digital Jungle in Beijing in 2016, having already spent a year on a university exchange in Shanghai.
“Three months anywhere won’t change your life completely,” he says, “but it allowed me to go more deeply into something I was already interested in.
“You cut ties with your home base. It’s all part of growing up and kind of scary.”
Edward had already lined up a graduate role with Fonterra, so technically he didn’t need the internship. “But when you’re starting out one of the only defining factors is what you’ve exposed yourself to voluntarily. Experience is half the battle. And I wanted to be global facing.”
On his return home, Edward joined Fonterra’s global strategy team before becoming an innovation and insight analyst for the company’s global consumer brands. He is now a customer adviser with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.
“At Digital Jungle, I worked on lots of campaigns preparing pitches to win business,” he said. “I got an idea of what’s possible in terms of digital marketing in China.
“Now I’m a customer adviser, a lot of those lessons are becoming clearer to me. New Zealand companies seem often to underestimate what’s involved and it’s made me realise how difficult it is to get into China.”
In time, Edward sees a possible future role as an NZTE business development manager in China. He volunteers now as a business development manager with the NZ China Trade Association Young Associates.
“I feel there’s generally not enough engagement,” he says. “Too often people don’t invest enough in knowledge and just dive in. Without the market research, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”