16 April 2017

My work experience as an international student

Joe Val Alipin
Student from the Philippines

As an international student, having New Zealand work experience relevant to your qualification is essential. That is why I made the most of my spare time as a student to work part-time and start to engage with the Kiwi work environment.

Fortunately, I landed a job at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) as an intern during summer break. I learned about the opportunity through Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology’s job search support which regularly updates students with job opportunities and gives employer referrals and job search tips.

Toi Ohomai

Why New Zealand?

After I finished a Masters in Environmental Engineering in my home country I wanted to pursue a career in environmental management or conservation here in New Zealand. As I looked at the syllabus for the Resource Management programme, I was convinced that this is what I needed. True enough, the programme exceeded my expectations. It was full of practical experience in environmental monitoring, conservation biology, environmental impact assessment, GIS, and New Zealand’s Resource Management Act which was all useful in my internship stint. Above all, this programme ignited in me a deeper passion for environmental sustainability. I believe that no other country could better expose me to the value of nature as New Zealand, a true haven of natural wonders.

My life as an intern

As an intern, I was well coached by my supervisor who is an expert in his field. One of my projects was to conduct pollution prevention audits for all businesses within the Mount Maunganui Industrial Area. The purpose of the audit was to identify potential contaminant discharges to the air, land and stormwater network, and identify possible resource and trade waste consent requirements. It was not easy at the start to engage with a community which considers you as a foreigner. Even more so if you are conducting an audit. But I went through a smooth transition with the help of my supervisor, workmates, and of course, extra personal effort. Also, my work involved GIS mapping for the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) to which I applied the GIS skills I gained from Toi Ohomai. I am impressed by the experience I had working with Kiwis. Yes, we had lots of deliverables and deadlines to meet especially during the busy summer months but the workplace never seemed toxic. We still found time to celebrate simple milestones and bond as a team.

Bonding time with my fellow interns and BOPRC employees
One of the shots I took during my audit work at Mount Maunganui, Tauranga

No two days were the same during my time at the BOPRC. I was able to do a mix of office work, community engagement and field audits. And the best thing about it was the travel involved in my work. I have pretty much explored the whole of the Bay of Plenty Region, driven through scenic landscapes, photographed beautiful natural attractions, and met friendly Kiwis. My experience in New Zealand as an international working student was everything I could ask for.

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About the contributors
Joe Val Alipin
Student from the Philippines