Learner Internships and Projects
We have a number of business courses that seek support from businesses, most notably our Internship and Industry projects. Our learners add value to your business through work experience and business research, and businesses can add value to their future career by giving the learners valuable experience.
What would you gain from being part of a Business Industry Project and Internship?
Our Graduate Diploma and third year Bachelor of Applied Management learners are ready to go into the workplace and are highly capable of engaging and participating as a valued member of your team. They will also make a positive difference through the completion of a project that is focused on investigating an aspect of your business, whether by understanding an issue or exploring an opportunity. We take pride in our business learners being work ready …. and world ready!
Our Business Industry Project and Internship programme has an excellent reputation, with positive testimonials from both local and national businesses. Many businesses employ learners after the successful completion of their internship and project.
What types of businesses get involved?
A wide range of businesses take up the opportunity to engage with our learners. Our learners have worked with privately-owned companies, institutions, not-for-profits, and sole proprietors. Your business could be in any industry sector and any location within New Zealand. You need to be able to integrate the learner into your business as usual, so they gain valuable work experience as part of your team.
How does the project and internship work?
- Learners can be engaged either as a paid or unpaid intern.
- You can interview potential learners before deciding whether to take them on.
- The internship and project can be undertaken in the first or second semester.
- Learners and businesses are fully supported by the Business Internship Coordinator in the School of Business, Te Maru Pumanawa | College of Creative Practice and Enterprise.
- The agreement we reach about the work the learner will undertake will be documented in an Internship Project Agreement.
What types of project topics can be undertaken?
The range of businesses our learners work in is vast, and projects can focus on any one of a number of areas. The research project needs to be something that you want investigated or evaluated, something that the learner can find out for you. These learners are available to help you as part of their programme of study in the following fields:
- Human Resources
- Strategic Management
- Sales and Marketing
- Business Transformation and Change
Please contact the School of Business on firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about learner industry internships and projects.
Examples of past learner projects
Dunedin secondary schools are teaching the Sustainable Development Goals, but not necessarily explicitly or consistently.
Whaiao is a United Nations' Regional Centre of Expertise for Education for Sustainability. The organisation's network of stakeholders includes many educational institutions, including Otago Polytechnic, in a common cause - to facilitate learning towards sustainable development in Otago. Business learner Flora Yi Yu undertook a research project for Whaiao to identify which of the 17 United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were being implemented in Dunedin secondary schools and how.
Flora distributed an online survey to 12 secondary schools in Dunedin and Enviroschools. Thirty survey responses were received from nine organisations, then seven of the respondents were interviewed face to face. Flora also carried out analysis of the resources available to the secondary schools for sustainability education, and of the policies and student activities from their websites of three schools.
The research showed that most secondary schools in Dunedin are already implementing all of the SDGs to some extent in teaching, policies and activities, however without explicitly referencing the SDGs. Flora identified that improving teachers' awareness and understanding of the SDGs, providing ready-made resources for them to integrate into their teaching, and facilitating practical opportunities for students to contribute to achievement of the SDGs, would be helpful ways Whaiao could contribute to education for sustainable development in secondary schools.
A new scorecard assessment system will help a local club manage replacement of its assets.
St Clair Golf Club has a range of assets which fall into two basic categories: greenkeeping assets, and clubhouse plant and equipment. Without any asset management system they were replacing items as and when required, when they failed, which required hasty unplanned decision-making.
Alisha Govind, one of our Business learners, worked with the Club's manager Annette Godman and Board member Judy Bevin to develop a system for asset management that would meet the Club's needs. Alisha started by investigating the decision-making process and the criteria that were used, and becoming familiar with the assets to be included.
Alisha used an iterative process to develop an asset scorecard. A list was compiled of the range of factors to be assessed for each asset, in four categories: safety, value creation, reliability and financial considerations. Safety was given double the weighting of value creation and reliability. Alisha then populated the scorecards for the Club's assets, generating scores which can be used to prioritise and budget for asset replacement. The next step will be an action plan for incorporating the system into the Club's financial management.
Social media is a necessary part of a business marketing strategy to increase customer engagement.
Cooke Howlison is a car retail and service company based in Dunedin. Business learner Emily Lane has been working there as an intern with marketing manager, Anna Campbell. Emily undertook a research project into how this long-established business might used digital marketing strategies more effectively to increase customer engagement.
Emily undertook a survey of the company's customer base online and by phone, and also interviewed some staff about retail customer behaviours. She found that 50% of customers are aged 65 and over.
Emily recommended that the company develop a social media campaign, and that that should be built around the company's values which were important to customers. A social media campaign would especially help to engage customers in a younger demographic. Emily's report will inform the company's marketing plan.
Digital marketing strategies are an essential part of a company's marketing plan.
A local cleaning company, Wanaclean, provides commercial and residential cleaning services. The business worked with our Applied Management learner, Custan Pereira, to help develop a marketing strategy to attract new customers.
Custan surveyed clients and others who followed the company on social media, to find out their purposes in using cleaning services. Amongst other things this confirmed that current customers were satisfied with the quality of service they were receiving. Custan also undertook competitor analysis for Wanaclean.
Custan recommended that their marketing strategy should consider paid Facebook advertisements and update their website, emphasising trustworthiness and reliability and including customer reviews. The company could also consider offering a wider range of services.
Volunteering provides people with opportunities to develop capabilities that employers value.
Volunteer South works throughout Otago and Southland to promote volunteering and supports organisations which rely on volunteers. Volunteering is beneficial not just for those organisations and the communities they serve but also for the volunteers themselves. In light of the impact of COVID-19 on the job market, Volunteer South worked with Applied Management learner Hannah-Jane Calder-Wood to explore how they might facilitate volunteers gaining soft skills, or capabilities, that would help them secure employment.
Hannah's background research confirmed that employers value soft skills. Hannah surveyed volunteers about the soft skills they had developed through volunteering. The volunteers confirmed that volunteering did help them gain soft skills, and they considered it would help them gain employment.
Hannah recommended ways that Volunteer South could facilitate volunteers' acquisition of soft skills:
- Running an event with a guest speaker on the topic of which soft skills employers value, giving volunteers options to spend half a day volunteering, and providing a structured opportunity for reflection by volunteers on what they learned in the process
- Giving people the chance to try out volunteering options before committing would help with motivation and identification of the most suitable and enjoyable option
- Collaboration with schools and tertiary institutions to help students transition into the workforce.
Helping businesses stay safe is a growing but competitive market.
Health and safety has become an important industry in New Zealand, to support organisations to meet their obligations to keep staff and customers safe. One such health and safety business offered three separate strands: providing an on-site consultancy service, selling health and safety products from its premises, and online product sales. Two Business learners worked with the manager to identify opportunities for improvement.
Akassh Verma focussed on the issue of how to increase online sales. Akassh explored website design and usability, online customer engagement and e-commerce strategies, then surveyed people about their opinions of the two websites. Akassh recommended that the two websites be combined into one and redesigned, and that an e-commerce marketing strategy be developed and implemented.
By contrast Santosh Chochangi Pun's research project was inward-looking, about streamlining the invoicing process for the three parts of the business. Santosh interviewed the manager about the business's needs, then analysed the comparative features, benefits and costs of MYOB and Xero as potential solutions. Santosh recommended Xero be used, with templates for the three different invoice types needed.
A Business learner investigates how to increase gym members' level of engagement.
Health and fitness is a big industry in New Zealand, but many people sign up to a gym then don't go very often. For one Dunedin gym this was unacceptable - Flex Fitness Green Island's goal was to see its members succeed in their fitness goals and increase their wellbeing. Jassmyn Walker, an employee of the gym and one of our Business learners, undertook a research project to learn what more the gym could do to engage those members who did not regularly attend.
After looking into consumer behaviour, relationship marketing and customer satisfaction theories and case studies, Jassmyn analysed Flex Fitness Green Island member participation over a three month period. High users attended more than 20 times per month on average, and low users attended less than three times per month on average. By phone during COVID-19 lockdown Jassmyn interviewed three high users, three low users, and the gym's manager. Jassmyn then conducted a survey; 31% of the high users responded to the survey and 25% of the low users.
Amongst other things, the results identified two key factors that distinguished the high users from the low users:
- Self-determination: The high users were highly motivated to come to the gym to work out, and stuck to a routine to achieve this
- Self-confidence: The low users were uncomfortable about using the gym, especially if there were many people there.
Jassmyn has recommended that the gym take steps to boost member motivation and confidence, for example helping with goal setting, providing options, and explaining why a certain exercise is helpful. Relationships with gym members can also be strengthened with more email messaging and use of social media, for example videos about how to use equipment, and information about quieter times in the gym and the full range of services available to members.
In an online event they organised, three learners share tips about living more sustainably.
"Welcome to Kākāriki, an event that aims to inspire sustainable living.
"Tasked with organising an online event, we immediately saw this as an opportunity to create something meaningful and to address an important matter. What could be more important than something that impacts everything and everyone on this planet? Sustainability has become one of the most significant terms and yet also one of the most complex topics there is.
"With Kākāriki we would like to show you that each and every one of us has the power to create a sustainable future. It all starts in the comfort of our homes and can be a lot simpler than we think. On 5th June 2020, World Environment Day, we show you how easy it is to upcycle materials and use simple ingredients for your daily lives:
- Healthy vegan recipes for banana pancakes, chia seed pudding, and vegan butter
- Natural deodorant and washable makeup remover pads
- Homemade gifts – a macramé potplant holder and a plant pot
- All-purpose cleaner.
"Additionally, we prerecorded guest speakers from different New Zealand businesses telling us about their sustainability efforts:
- Clinton Chambers, owner of organic food store Taste Nature Dunedin
- Dean Griffiths, manager of Trade Aid Dunedin
- Richard Schouten – Sales Account Manager at IdealCup
- Jill Ford – Founder of RefillNZ.
"Check out our website to find more inspiration on how to implement sustainable practices in your life. Will you be part of our green journey?"
Drivers and passengers alike need to treat each other with respect.
GoBus is a transport company with 29 depots around New Zealand. Their Dunedin depot supervisor Tony Matheson asked Business learner Mihirkumar Patel to help them solve a problem with behaviour - some drivers had complained about passenger behaviour but some passengers had also complained about drivers.
Mihir undertook two online surveys, of drivers and passengers, and also investigated customer relationship management. He came up with three recommendations for the company's consideration:
- Training for drivers on how to effectively manage difficult passenger behaviour. This was something half of the driver survey respondents asked for.
- A social media marketing campaign to educate passengers about "good bus behaviour." 62% of passenger survey respondents were not aware that the Otago Regional Council had a Code of Conduct for passengers.
- An app for passengers' phones, to give them up-to-date information about bus routes and any expected delays.
Two of our Business learners have been helping DVML improve sustainable practices in two very different respects.
The focus for Bill Hendry's project was sustainable human resource management. Bill undertook semi-structured interviews with five managers and benchmarked Dunedin Venues Management Ltd's practices against those parts of the Qualmark standard that were relevant for human resources: culture and wellbeing, management style, and employee development. Bill made some recommendations to build on the good things that were already happening:
- A wellness month in July
- A wellness workshop
- A mentor programme for new and junior staff
- Socialising success and more recognition activities.
Praveen Mundel's project focused on improving energy efficiency at Forsyth Barr Stadium, to help Dunedin Venues Management Ltd be an environmentally responsible organisation. An energy audit had already been undertaken so Praveen considered options to make savings in both energy and money in the identified areas:
- LED lights
- Sensor that would turn lights off automatically when restrooms were not being used
- Lutron switch for office areas used all the time, to reduce artificial lighting when natural light levels are high
- Smart thermostat control of heating
- Zelio smart logic controller to improve energy use by the large refrigerators.
How might beer wastage be reduced?
Emersons brewery sells beer from a taproom, where consumers can bring their own bottles for filling. Some of the tap beer being poured ends up as wastage. Applied Management learner Shanaye King worked with Emersons on a waste reduction project.
Shanaye interviewed staff and observed them at work to identify the contributing factors, and also looked at the sales data to quantify the wastage. Shanaye recommended that staff be selected for cellar door sales, a dedicated team who were passionate about the product and could provide high consistency in pouring. This team should be trained in filling techniques, for example holding the bottle closer to the tap to reduce the head on the beer, and avoiding overfilling (pricing allows for some head).
Shanaye also recommends that Emersons invest in a carbon dioxide purging flagon filler. This fills the customer's bottle with carbon dioxide first, which is then released as the bottle fills with beer. The carbon dioxide stops the head forming and delivers a fresher, longer lasting product. This is slower, which some customers may not like, but Shanaye calculated the the saving in waste would more than cover the cost of the equipment in the first year of operation.
A local store has received tailored advice from one of our Business learners.
The retail store Annecy bags & sunglasses has a high profile location in the Golden Centre Mall, with high numbers of passersby. Jiabao (Beryl) Pan worked with Annecy's manager to explore ways to increase sales.
Beryl surveyed 53 shoppers, of whom 92% were female. Most were aged between 26 and 55 years old. Beryl also researched retail marketing to help identify what factors were likely to positively influence sales for this product range at this location. Beryl's recommendations were:
- Adjust product displays every day (this has been implemented already)
- Use cross-selling strategies
- Introduce a customer loyalty scheme
- Provide staff training, for example in product display, personal presentation, and sales skills
- Offer a discount voucher which customers could give their friends
- Provide special offers, for example for cruise ship visitors.
Adult participation in rugby league is as much about the social engagement as enjoyment of the sport itself.
Southern Zone Rugby League is a non-profit organisation that promotes, facilitates and develops rugby league, working closely with the six South Island districts and with New Zealand Rugby League. Until now Southern Zone Rugby League has worked mainly in the background supporting the districts, but wants to increase awareness of its role and improve promotion of the game in the south.
Applied Management learner Daniel Webber undertook a research project to help Southern Zone Rugby League understand its customer base better. Daniel designed a questionnaire to survey members of southern rugby league clubs, which was distributed through the six southern districts. The average survey respondent was a male generally aged over 35 years old, married or partnered, with children. They are working in a coach or administrator role within their local rugby league community, and are attracted to the game because of the social qualities associated with rugby league as well as the enjoyment found within the game itself. They would like to see more articles and video content on the Southern Zone Rugby League Facebook page.
Daniel identified that as Facebook was the preferred digital platform of survey respondents, Southern Zone Rugby League should communicate its goals and objectives through the Facebook page, for example in the banner, and use Facebook as the primary method for implementing their strategic plan.
Southern Zone General Manager Steve Martin says:
"Having the opportunity of tapping into the Polytechnic to work with students on key research projects to assist decision making, has been invaluable for an organisation that has a very small staff without the time or resource to undertake this type of study itself."
How might Sport Otago engage tertiary students in more physical activity?
Sport Otago is a not-for-profit organisation which provides sport and recreation experts and services to encourage the Otago community to be physically active. Tertiary students would benefit physically and mentally from participation in physical activity, yet their participation is low in Sport Otago events.
Event Management learner Isaac Smith investigated how Sport Otago might attract greater participation by tertiary students. He surveyed students, asking for examples about how they preferred to receive information about events, desired event duration, how much they were willing to pay to participate, and what features made an exercise event appealing to them. He also discussed the issues in depth with a focus group, and investigated the activities of other similar organisations. His recommendations to Sport Otago included:
- Run events during low academic workload periods
- Use photos and videos from previous event on social media and poster locations on campus
- Target first year tertiary students in halls of residence, creating awareness of Sport Otago's purpose as well as upcoming events
- Keep participation costs between $10 and $15
- Hold a student only team based event with a charitable component.
Michael Smith, Business Development Manager with Sport Otago, says that Isaac was unbelievable, going over and above what was expected, helping with events and planning a whole event that could be run for students.
"There were good findings in his research project to help us connect better with students and we'll definitely be implementing some of those."
Heidi Renata at Innov8HQ appreciated the work of two Applied Management learners.
Two leaerners were interviewed by Heidi and she decided to work with both of them. Destynee Poutama looked at the external customer engagement part of the Innov8 HQ business, which includes running events. On 10 April 2018 Innov8HQ hosted an Otago Polytechnic event, Sustainability in Business, with a range of speakers each addressing a different aspect of sustainable business practice.
The other student, Jessica Rau, delved into internal customer engagement - the culture in a co-working environment. This involves deconstructing what a typical corporate would look like. Heidi says the insights which Jessica provided in her report are "unreal!" Changing the office environment can heavily influence how people behave and interact with each other.
The design of the space can contribute positively to the cohesion of the people working there, by encouraging shared knowledge and organic networking. Heidi is very glad she put the kitchen upfront and centre at Innov8 HQ.