11 December 2023

How to Get an Internship in New Zealand | Study With New Zealand

Theo Spruyt
Global Digital Content Specialist | Education New Zealand

For many students, securing their first internship not only marks the first time they officially enter into the workforce, but it also improves their chances for permanent employment in the future. So after putting in years of excellent work and studying hard, how can you secure an internship in your dream field?

Internships in New Zealand: The Basics

Before you start thinking about an internship, it’s important to know what you could be committing yourself to. Depending on your course, you could potentially be required to work an internship in either a part-time or full-time capacity.

Usually taking place over the New Zealand summer holidays (November to February), some of these internships are paid and some are unpaid.

Depending on your field of study, you could find internship opportunities at New Zealand’s government agencies, large corporate businesses, professional associations, industry training boards and not-for-profit sector.

How Do I Find Internship Opportunities?

The best way to find internship opportunities is to approach your lecturer or education provider. They will know you best and are in the best position to recommend you to potential employers.

Other organisations also help students gain Kiwi internships, such as:

  • Summer of Tech, which offers students full time, paid entry-level IT and design jobs from mid-November to mid-February. Interns have a mentor to guide them as they kick-start their tech careers.
  • Dunedin’s business internship programme which gives tertiary students the chance to gain paid work experience with innovative local businesses. Usually, one in every two interns is offered jobs with the business at the end of their internship.
  • AIESEC, which is a global internship programme operating in more than 120 countries with over 70,000 active members. As well as offering international internship opportunities, AIESEC offers intense practical experience in many areas to complement studies.
  • Intern NZ and New Zealand Internships support local and international students to find meaningful work experience across all industries in New Zealand. There is a fee associated with their services.

Who Can Get an Internship?

Student visa holders may be allowed to work part-time for up to 20 hours a week during term time, and full-time in holidays. They’re also allowed to work to meet the practical experience requirements of their courses.

Students should check Immigration New Zealand regulations before seeking work while they study.

What Should You Expect During Your Internship?

The best way to find out what your internship could be like is to talk to former students who have finished their own internships.

International students Simone Grilli and Amy Ma have both written about their internship experiences for the Study with New Zealand blog.

Simone wrote about spending a semester in New Zealand while working for a small IT company in Auckland. Amy wrote about her experience after interning for Ernest & Young in both Auckland and Shanghai.

What Should I Prepare for My Application?

To make sure that you make the best possible first impression, you should prepare:

A well-designed CV that includes:

  • Study history
  • Relevant work history
  • Your personal accomplishments

A clearly written cover letter that includes:

  • The context for your application, like how you heard about the company and the role, as well as why you are interested in them
  • References to key aspects of the company’s history and culture. You’ll want to research the company thoroughly before writing your cover letter

Ask a lecturer, career advisor, or trusted friend to review your cover letter and CV before you send it out. They might find errors and mistakes that you’ve missed which can affect how well you come across to the hiring manager.

If you secure an internship through your course or through a third-party group, it’s important to remember that you represent their organisation as well as yourself. Make sure to always perform at your best and be courteous throughout your time as an intern, or the same opportunities might not be available for future generations of potential interns.

If you want more information on internships as an international student, there are several resources that you can use.

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About the contributors
Theo Spruyt
Global Digital Content Specialist | Education New Zealand