Tag Archives: student experience

My friends are leaving me behind

It used to be a bit sad watching all my friends ‘move on’ in the world after university. They’d travel, get married, buy a house – they were earning money. Of course, what they never talked about is what it takes to actually earn that money – 40 hours a week. For the rest of your life. That’s what that means.

But I really struggled with the idea that I was being ‘left behind’. That I was potentially replaceable in their new world – for the first time, we weren’t all moving along in the same way at the same time. And that really scared me. It scared me to think I might not be able to catch up at the end, either.

As a woman, who wants kids, factoring in that part of my life is a big thing in academics and moving into a career. If I have kids when I’m just entering the workforce, that will impact on my experience. If I have them while I finish studying – how long will I then be studying for?

But the reality is (and it took me a long time to get to this realisation), even though my friends and I are on different stages, and probably will be for a while yet – we’re still friends. I’m still with them. What is this end bit, anyway? What’s the end? Is it a job? Is it when I have kids too? The more I define myself as similar or different I open us all up to comparison. When in reality, I’m just me. And they’re them. We’re all walking different paths. One of my friends is a nurse – she studied that and went straight into that job. The others went to university, and only one of them is now working in a field vaguely related to what they studied (they all did BComs, btw, so stop digging on the Arts students).

Are any of us in a spot we thought we’d be in eight years ago? No way. So who knows where we’ll be in the next eight years. And that’s really cool. I can’t wait to share that journey with them.

Written by Aimee Winters 

Summer Student Internships 2017-18

Interested in expanding your data analytics skills in a real-world environment this summer?

Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems and Networks, is offering paid student internships for 10 weeks over the 2017-18 summer months in organisations based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

We have opportunities for teams of undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled in New Zealand universities for internships working on projects with Iwi, government organisations, and industry.

Last year, we placed around a dozen students at a variety of organisations:

“The project directly related to what I was studying and the course I had studied at the beginning of the year. I was really passionate and loved going into work because I knew the work I was doing was contributing to making a difference for New Zealanders.” – 2016-17 student intern at the Social Investment Agency in Wellington.

170919 Student interns

This year, there are some exciting new opportunities such as intern with Te Reo Irirangi O Te Hiku O Te Ika, who are creating language tools that will enable speech recognition and natural language processing of te reo Māori. The project will require the collection of more than 100,000 sentences and 250 hours of Māori language corpus. Once complete, the aim is to provide these language tools to the Māori ICT industry.

Undergraduate opportunities

  • Conduct a supervised research project for 10 weeks over the summer months.
  • Work in teams to analyse data on important projects in data science.
  • Receive a stipend of $6,000 plus appropriate support for relocation.

Postgraduate opportunities

  • Extend your analytics skills by working with enterprise data sets.
  • Obtain 10 weeks of valuable industry placement and gain experience in leading a research team.
  • Receive a stipend of $8,000 plus appropriate support for relocation.


Undergraduate and postgraduate internships are open to students with some background in economics, social, or natural sciences with a strong background in mathematics (including multi-variate calculus and linear algebra), statistics or computer science.

Key dates

Applications open Applications close Applicants notified Internships start
Mon 14 Aug 2017 Fri 29 Sep 2017 late Oct 2017 Mon 20 Nov 2017


Apply now

To apply, please submit:

  • A cover letter detailing your current study, suitability, and why you would like to undertake the internship.
  • Your CV (no longer than 3 pages).
  • Your academic transcript.
  • Your demographic details.

Please send your applications to: Kathryn Morgan (kathryn.morgan@auckland.ac.nz) by Friday 29 September 2017. Applicants will be notified of the outcomes by late October.


How to make the most of a science fair – be a judge

170919 science fair

On Saturday 9 September, I was invited along with a bunch of my student peers to be a judge on the Canterbury Westlands Schools’ Science and Technology Fair 2017 at Ara Institute. Over 200 students enthusiastically presented their work on a variety of topics which, honestly, blew my mind!

Not having previous experience in judging a school science exhibition did not deter me. In fact, the very astute Tamsin Laird, outreach coordinator for the College of Science, made me talk about my background in journalism in a judges meeting to highlight my interest in and the relevance of science communication in today’s world. Because what better event than a science fair to think about changing the world?

Here’s why I thoroughly enjoyed judging the science fair:

  1. It took me back to a time (erm, decades ago) when I was a school student and exhibiting science projects to my peers and my teachers. Even if it wasn’t on such a large scale as the one at Ara, the butterflies in the stomach were unmistakable, as was the friendly competition among students! For the first time as an adult, I saw parents being apprehensive (but supportive) about the results of the competition!
  2. I went in without any preset expectations, but I had a set of guidelines and a very able school physics and chemistry teacher for a co-judge (judges were paired to check exhibits). The thoroughness of some students amazed me, but the cherry on the cake was understanding what motivated them to choose their topics.
  3. Many of the students took everyday problems they faced or witnessed around them to construct a hypothesis which they went on to prove or disprove. I wouldn’t be surprised if (hypothesis idea for next year!) a chunk of mankind’s discoveries were made similarly: by just observing or thinking about something that one witnessed. Imagine this: at one point, Lord Rayleigh must have just looked at the sky and wondered why it was blue. And then actually managed to find why! Our young padawans are on the right track.
  4. Young students are keenly observing the world around us. They left no stone unturned when it came to choosing a topic: right from things we take for granted (does a cat have a paw preference like humans are right and left handed?) to unmasking the veracity of an advertisement (do garlic supplements boost your health?) to the surprising finding (to me) that duck poo actually contains a host of e coli!

The scientific method may be methodical and some may say, almost contained, in its frame of hypothesis/observation — measurement — experiment — testing — modification and more experiments and testing in the over 400 years that it has existed for. However, for the lack of “better” methods, science continues to be the most effective tool we have developed and used to propel our species in understanding ourselves and our environment the best we can.

Giving young students an encouraging push towards science can mean a different and maybe positive history for our future generations. Go on then, introduce someone young to the marvellous world of science!

Written by Sneha Johari