From Vodafone New Zealand to Idea Lab in San Diego, more than 3,300 organisations have provided 7,000 students with vital work experience as part of AUT’s Business Co-operative Education programme.
In their final year of study, AUT business and economics students spend eight weeks with an employer, putting their skills and knowledge to the test in the real world.
AUT senior lecturers and co-operative education managers Kate Coleman and Jenni Boys, who lead the co-ordination of this massive programme, say the placements give students the opportunity to integrate theory with practice and the realities of the workplace.
“It offers a natural transition between studies and the business world. It’s a time when all the study and learning clicks into place and our students have the chance to apply what they have learnt in a professional environment.
“For our employers, the programme gives them access to talented and motivated final-year students.”
The timing of the placements, in the final year of study, means students gain confidence and begin building their professional networks, before they graduate and start looking for work opportunities.
Paris Reardon, who studied a Bachelor of Business majoring in marketing and minoring in international business, completed her workplace experience with DDB Group NZ.
“Having the opportunity to work in a real business environment allows you to understand how the concepts and theories you are learning in class translate into the real world. Most importantly, I think the experience helps you to develop your interpersonal skills and relationship building.
“It gave me the opportunity to develop my knowledge of the advertising industry and a foot in the door to my future career,” says Paris, who has now secured a full-time role with DDB Group NZ as a business coordinator.
Benefits for final-year students aren’t the only pay-off. Reflections on employer feedback from the Co-operative Education programme have led to advancements in the Bachelor of Business degree, helping AUT business and economics students become agile and adaptable thinkers who are equipped for today’s complex working environments.