Starting out part 2 – All kinds of awesomeness!

Six months ago in part 1 of this post I wrote about the launch of Summer of Biz, a new volunteer organised internship programme in Wellington for marketing and HR students.

Just over a year ago Summer of Biz was a twinkling in the eye of a group of Wellington-based HR professionals frustrated that there weren’t more opportunities for students to get real-life paid HR practitioner experience alongside their study, or entry level HR positions when they graduate.  It seemed like an impossible ask.

Meet and greet 3Twelve months on, and I’m delighted to say we’ve created a total of 28 paid, full-time internship opportunities for Wellington students this coming summer with two students already placed in ongoing roles, and 26 students about to commence summer internships in November.  That’s 28 students who would not have otherwise had the opportunity to gain experience in the profession that represents their degree major of choice.  Isn’t that awesome?

Foy year one we set ourselves a target of 20 internships, which soon became a stretch target of 30.  We smashed the former, and just missed the latter.  If a couple more employers who had initially promised us internships had been able to get them across the line we would have made it.  But I’m nit-picking.  We’ve far exceeded our initial hopes and expectations.

Over 350 students signed up to the Summer of Biz website, we organised and ran a total of 18 workshops and boot camps at Victoria and Massey University campuses in Wellington and the quality of the students blew us away.  Shortlisting and interviews are currently happening, next week formal offers of summer work will be going out to the successful students.

While readers in other countries might think this isn’t much of an achievement, this is New Zealand we are talking about.  On the one hand, it’s a fertile try out space for new ideas because it’s small and Kiwis are hard wired to just try new stuff so we were able to get it off the ground quickly.  But on the other, our size often makes it impossible to scale new things and so they often stay under the radar or never get going. And just remember this is all being done by volunteers!

It’s been a massive team effort to get us here.  I’m not going to mention lots of people but do want to single out Ruth McDavitt, CEO of Summer of Tech and my Summer of Biz (Marketing) Co-founder Nicole Williams, both of whom are amazing people who jumped on this crazy idea when I first approached them, backed it completely and threw themselves into making it happen when they were both already incredibly busy.

Meet and greet1

Thank you to our main sponsors CIGNA and the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) who both backed and believed in an unknown quantity.  WREDA’s early suggestion to include marketing students in the programme alongside HR was genius (they are such a natural fit and have the same issues) and changed the game.  Also, the support and assistance of various people at both Victoria and Massey Universities has been amazing and humbling.  Thank you all for trusting us and letting us in!

To all the employers who have been prepared to create an opportunity and find budget where it didn’t exist and the various busy people who gave up their time to run boot camps, thank you – you are making a difference. From Engage HR, the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Treasury who were first on board with internships, to the likes of Inland Revenue, NZ Post, NZ Racing Board, Trade Me and Garage Project. A total of twenty three awesome organisations/brands who have provided internships.

To the students who got on board from day one and embraced us.  Sorry, we can’t get you all into roles but hopefully you have enjoyed being part of it.

And then lastly to our team of incredible volunteers, a mix of students and people in paid employment, all of whom willingly gave up massive amounts of their evenings and weekends to do something they believed passionately in whether it was creating a website, social media accounts, opening doors at the universities, attending careers fairs, creating social media and blog content, organising and “wrangling” the boot camps, presenting workshops, talking to prospective employers and so much more. Thank you for leaving your egos out of it and just being awesome.

Meet and greet 2

Is that it?  Absolutely not.  While I am immensely proud of what we have done to date, we’ve merely proved we can do this and we’ll do it again next year with a view to being bigger and better.  We would also like to expand to other cities.  So if there are people reading this in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Dunedin who would like to see Summer of Biz in your city then please get in touch!  We can’t do this without more people helping to make it happen.  But don’t worry, the ground work has been done!

So what have we learned?  We will do some things a little differently next year for sure like approaching employers earlier so they can budget properly for interns. But now we’ve got a track record behind us we know Summer of Biz will be an easier sell.

It confirmed to me that doing good, putting back and volunteering can be rewarding and fun. And how the hell did people ever collaborate before Slack, Trello and Google docs?

But most importantly it confirmed what we all know – with a clear vision, a sense of purpose, shared values and a great, cohesive team of people who want to be there you can do absolutely anything you put your minds to. Nothing is impossible.

And that is just all kinds of awesome.

Summer of Biz photo credits: Oliver Ewert

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