WaikatoLink takes several interns on each year to join the WaikatoLink HotHouse. This entry is from Nicole’s perspective as one of our Interns.
A Valuable Experience: My Internship at WaikatoLink
While at university it can seem easy to get lost in the process and I often find myself likening all the tests, assessments and essays to jumping hurdles. As each one comes up you perform the necessary actions to get over it in order to reach the end of the race (graduation). I found that like many students I was having difficulty ‘picturing’ myself out in the workforce once I have completed my studies and was losing direction, the light at the end of the tunnel was hidden behind the clouds.
Recently I was presented with an opportunity to work part time as a Market Researcher for WaikatoLink, the commercialisation department of Waikato University. I, of course, jumped at the chance, excited at the prospect of bridging my post university horizons. My first day arrived and I have since settled into my role here and am now taking the opportunity to reflect on the differences between university life and the working world and things I have learnt along the way.
After about a week it was quickly becoming clear that there was a large difference between theory and life at uni and practise in the real world. I found myself on a bit of a learning curve. One of the first things I noticed was that work takes on a new perspective, it becomes to seem more like a chain, rather than stand alone as it is at uni and you realise the effects of how a piece of work not up to scratch can be the weakest link; work is no longer just a grade.
The end ‘user’ of your work begins to move to the forefront of your mind as you learn to summarise and edit your work. You learn to present the information in different ways to highlight key points the reader is interested rather than writing all you know about the topic as it is at uni. Simply put I learnt how to apply all the skills I had learnt while at university in more meaningful ways. I began to see some direction follow through in my studies at uni, as I began to realise things I did well, things I enjoy and areas that I was interested in.
Working as a Market Researcher at WaikatoLink has given me valuable insight into the new developments and active areas of research in and around the university and helped guide me in making choices in my future papers. I have learnt how to read patents, conduct market scans, interpret freedom to operate and determine novelty of proposed technology. It has helped me develop my skills in critical thinking, time management and professionalism and helped me to visualise myself applying the skills I have learnt working in the industry.
If you find yourself struggling to picture yourself out in the real world or are losing direction in your studies, the clouds are closing in fast, I would highly recommend seeking out opportunities to work part time, go for a summer internship or go for a summer research scholarship. You can gain valuable skills, get huge insight into things you enjoy and are good at, get a feel for how things operate in industry along with gaining invaluable experience to put on your CV. Ultimately work experience can help give you some direction, create for you a purpose and enable you to make informed choices as you move through your final semesters.