Otago Polytechnic
Mila Mikhalchishina
I believe that everything we are taught reflects the reality of New Zealand

Mila Mikhalchishina
Graduate Diploma in Sales and Marketing

Mila Mikhalchishina first came to New Zealand as a tourist. She wanted to be in the country before choosing a place to study. She chose Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus.

“Otago Polytechnic is an institution with a history. It is a recognisable brand with a huge selection of training programmes, a good location on Queen Street and a Russian speaking manager!”

Mila is from Siberia and travel is her passion.

“I always dreamed of living abroad so before moving to this country, I visited 17 countries. For me, the Motherland is a place where I feel comfortable, and I’ll be happy if I can stay here and be useful to this country. I communicate with my parents and friends every day via Skype and social media, so I don’t get homesick!”

Mila’s a trained lawyer and has worked in that industry for 12 years. However, she wanted to make a new start in New Zealand.

“I’ve always been fond of creative activities – I developed a student newspaper and contributed to two books about successful people. I’ve started two businesses, worked in real estate sales, and organised international exhibitions in Kazan, Russia”.

So, it made sense for her to study a Graduate Diploma in Sales and Marketing at Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus.

“I’m very impressed by the friendly and loyal atmosphere in the learning process here. I really like that all teachers have 20-30 years’ experience. They share their stories with us and present them with humour,” she says. “I believe that everything that we are taught reflects the reality of New Zealand. Moreover, we often conduct comparative analyses of other countries, so learning is not divorced from reality, that’s for sure!”

She says the lecturers are really interested in each of the students which inspires her with self-confidence.

Mila is loving her study in New Zealand. She’s already received a job offer as a Marketing Assistant!

“I’ve lived here for five months, and the sense of harmony of life does not leave me. Constantly, I admire the nature – it is simply unique!”

Read more about the Graduate Diploma in Sales and Marketing.

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If you are wanting to pursue a career in the business industry, the Bachelor of Applied Management will give you a great start.

Sepiuta Vea
Bachelor of Applied Management

Sepiuta Vea gained more than a qualification from Otago Polytechnic – she developed the confidence and knowledge to embark on a career in the business world. Plus, once she has some work-experience under her belt, she’s planning to embark on a postgraduate qualification.

Initially, Sepi enrolled in the Diploma of Business here but soon realised she wanted to continue with her studies. “The Bachelor of Applied Management gives you the understanding and skills you can apply to a range of management environments,” she says.

As a Pacific Island student, Sepi felt hugely supported during her time at Otago Polytechnic. “It’s been a privilege being a Pasifika student here and to be able to share my academic journey with students of similar backgrounds to my own,” she explains. “The support has been outstanding. Not just academically but also financially – through the Pacific Island Community Scholarships that are awarded each year.”

The Bachelor of Applied Management also allowed Sepi to complete an internship during the final stage of the qualification, where she completed 400 hours of work experience and wrote up a research project based on her experience. “It really helped me apply everything I’d learnt during my studies in a real-world context.”

Sepi says she learned many valuable life skills during her time at OP. “Communication and time management are key – as is perseverance. I missed home and my family, but they became my main drive and motivation to keep persevering and never give up.”

Read more about the Bachelor of Applied Management.

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The real-world work experience gave me tangible skills, and definitely set me up for career when I graduated

Hamish Marchant
Bachelor of Applied Management

Hamish Marchant had a single-minded determination to become a business consultant.  He took a year off after high school, so by the time he started his Bachelor of Applied Management at Otago Polytechnic, he had a clear idea on what he wanted to achieve post graduating.

“Immediately, there was heaps of support from the teachers and my peers. The small class room size meant we got to know everyone on a first name basis and could bounce ideas around throughout the course of the degree.”

Hamish says his final year of study definitely pulled everything together for him.

“We spent six months in our last year on the Cooperative Education Project, where we applied everything we had learnt.  We worked independently with an organisation on a specific issue that they wanted the answers to. This real-world work experience gave me tangible skills, and definitely set me up for career when I graduated”.

Hamish chose Otago Polytechnic because it offered him “the best skills in three years”.  He says it was fundamental in helping him get his first job – as a market researcher/consultant.

“The balance of theory and practical fits perfectly into my career.  What I do day-to-day is strongly aligned with what I learnt in my degree - from market research, to consultancy, to business development.”

“I love my job.  I get to work with many businesses across New Zealand, undertaking market research to best understand their needs and how to drive success for them.”

Hamish recommends the course to anyone interested in business. 

“I loved it.  I wanted to come out of a degree with a clear understanding on what area of business I would like to work in. The degree helped me develop my critical thinking, understand different research methodologies, it all resonated really quickly for me.  The whole experience was just amazing.”

Read more about the Bachelor of Applied Management.

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There were amazing field trips that we got to go on where we got to explore Dunedin’s attractions and activities

Courtney Drinkwater

For Courtney Drinkwater, studying Tourism and Travel was a natural fit. Now she has secured a six-month internship with ISS McKay, the shipping company that manages cruise ship visits to Dunedin.

Born and raised in Dunedin, Courtney never considered studying anywhere else.

“Otago Polytechnic’s Diploma in Applied Travel and Tourism caught my eye and I thought it was a great opportunity to enhance my knowledge about the tourism industry by gaining a qualification,” she says.

She has really enjoyed the study programme – especially the practical elements.

There were amazing field trips that we got to go on,” she explains, “where we got to explore Dunedin’s attractions and activities. Overall I’ve really enjoyed learning new information about the tourism industry and how companies work together to achieve set goals.”

This is an area Courtney will be focusing on during her internship with ISS McKay.

“As a part of my studies I am required to do a research based project and I will be examining how a tourism business runs on a day to day basis. There will be something different for me to do every day, so I’m really looking forward to that.”

The internship offers Courtney opportunities to visit the cruise ships and interact with a diverse range of employers. She is keen to grow her skills while gaining valuable work experience in her chosen field.

“I’m really excited to begin my internship with ISS McKay and to see where it takes me!”

Read more about the New Zealand Diploma in Applied Travel and Tourism (Level 5).

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Gaining a summer job at Mount Cook through Otago Polytechnic’s work placement was awesome!

Joanna Blair

Joanna Blair loves the idea of showing our beautiful country to visitors – and since completing her qualification in Travel and Tourism from Otago Polytechnic, she’s been busy getting experience in this exciting industry.

During her studies, Joanna did a work placement at Mount Cook, where she worked in the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, selling souvenirs and tourist activities to visitors. After that she got a job with Hertz Car Rentals at Dunedin Airport. She also worked for Hertz in Invercargill before studying to get her commercial pilot licence.

“The best job so far was definitely the one at Mount Cook,” she says. “I loved working with people from other countries. I also enjoyed seeing the appreciation of New Zealand’s landscape through their eyes.”

Joanna feels the qualification has helped her gain confidence and made her realise just how much she enjoys tourism and how much she wants to contribute to this industry. She now plans to work as a pilot for scenic tour companies.

“If you’re considering a career in travel and tourism I encourage you to do it,” Joanna says. “There are lots of job opportunities in this industry and you’ll definitely learn skills that will help you – both in your future career and in life.”

Read more about the New Zealand Diploma in Applied Travel and Tourism (Level 5)

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Kianee Small in crew seat
The tourism industry is continually growing and changing and having a diploma really helps.

Kianee Small
Diploma in Applied Travel and Tourism (Level 5)

Kianee always wanted to be in tourism, but a careers night in High School where a former Qantas flight attendant recounted her days flying set Kianee’s sights on a career in the skies.

“I applied for lots of flight attendant positions with different airlines but I wasn’t getting many interviews. I realised most of the other applicants had degrees and diplomas and there was a big educational gap between me and them.”

Kianee had a certificate in international flight attending but decided she needed more.

“I felt professionally I needed to know what was going on in the tourism industry and the Otago Polytechnic one year Diploma in Applied Travel and Tourism gave me a great awareness of how the tourism business works, it really opened my eyes. My favourite paper was sustainable tourism.”

With her certificate and Otago Polytechnic Diploma Applied Travel and Tourism in hand, Kianee applied to Jetstar for a flight attendant position and has been flying New Zealand domestic routes, and internationally to Fiji and Australia ever since.  

“It’s my dream job. It’s exactly how I thought it would be, and the best part is the people I work with, they’re such a fun team.”

Kianee is hoping to stay with Jetstar for “a long time as they really look after their staff and are interested in helping your career”.

The Diploma in Applied Travel and Tourism (Level 5) has now been replaced by the New Zealand Diploma in Tourism and Travel (Level 5).

Read more about this programme here. 

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Photo Credit: Lydia Goldman

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Besides further developing my career, I’m now also looking forward to working on personal goals. I want to get settled, start a family and find a nice work-life balance.

Johannes Kuhn
Graduate Diploma in Strategic Management

Johannes Kuhn was born and raised in Munich, Germany, a thriving city of 1.5 million people, which holds Oktoberfest each year. Johannes studied Media Management at the Media Design University for Applied Science in Munich, and leapt at the opportunity to come on exchange to Otago Polytechnic. 

“It was a very easy decision. I had only ever heard good things about New Zealand and the Graduate Diploma in Strategic Management at Otago Polytechnic offered the best fit for my existing studies.

“I wanted to challenge myself by going abroad, by getting in touch with a different culture, improving my English, getting new academic input and growing as a person.

“My time at Otago Polytechnic was a blast. I can’t really pinpoint the best thing. The study environment was great…there was a good combination of hands-on projects and academic research. And on the weekends I went out in Dunedin, made new friends, and travelled around New Zealand as much as possible. I got to see Queenstown, Christchurch, Milford Sound, Wellington, Auckland, Rotorua, Cape Reinga and Kaikoura, went on an amazing train trip, and saw seals and penguins in the wild.”

After graduating, Johannes returned home to Munich and started working at MegaZebra, a social and mobile game development company, founded in 2009. Johannes started as a marketing intern and worked his way up. He is now the Marketing and Business Intelligence Manager and Coordinator.

“I love my job. It is a very vibrant, young and dynamic environment that requires an entrepreneurial mindset. I get to work with people from all over the world and deal with a broad variety of topics including advertising, CRM, HR, strategic marketing, business development, product management etc.

“Besides my full-time job, I also recently completed a Master of Science in Marketing Management. It was stressful and challenging but I am very proud of my accomplishment.”

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I think I’m in the right place at the right time. The New Zealand tourism industry is booming and China is an emerging market

Suzanne Sun
Graduate Diploma in Tourism Management

Coming to New Zealand from the bustling trading and port city of Guangzhou, China (population 20 million), Suzanne Sun was in for a dose of culture shock. However it is an experience she hasn’t regretted.

Suzanne has a Bachelors degree in British and American literature, and a Masters in translation. Having always really loved travelling and previously working as an English language teacher, she was keen to see how these two passions could work together. She decided to enrol in the Graduate Diploma in Tourism Management at Otago Polytechnic as her partner was keen to study visual arts here.

So far Suzanne has been impressed with the quality of the programme. “With passionate lecturers and small class sizes you get a lot of personal attention. The lecturers really care about you and are very well prepared and helpful. They help us grow a lot.”

As part of the industry project component of her qualification, Suzanne has been working for the Dunedin Botanic Gardens researching ways to improve their services and reputation. “The industry placement is great. It has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me a lot of confidence.”

“I feel like the Graduate Diploma has given me a lot of opportunities. It has allowed me to gain new skills and to take control of my studies. I’m not sure what is next for me once I graduate but I could either search for a job in the tourism industry using some of the networks I have gained or I could go into tourism research and do postgraduate study.”

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Before Otago Polytechnic all that worried me was being in a job and earning a living, but now it’s very important for me to work for a business that I can be proud of.

Jamie Robinson
Bachelor of Applied Management

Jamie Robinson’s plan was to finish high school, work for a few years and study physiotherapy, but during her time working in the retail sector she realised management was what she really wanted to do and stayed.

“I worked full-time for seven years, but when I turned 24 I felt there was something lacking in my life. I’d watched a lot of my friends graduating and I thought I hadn’t really done a lot. I wanted to do something that was for me, that I had achieved by myself. I wanted to have a combination of work experience and a qualification, and I wanted direction in my life.”

Jamie enrolled in Otago Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Applied Management, majoring in Human Resources and Strategic Management.

“I really liked the idea of the hands-on approach to the qualification and in a class room environment. It was really practical, the placements gave me real world work experience, the teachers knew who you were, and we were on a first name basis with them.”

Studying a range of topics within the management degree has given Jamie a new perspective on life.

“The programme gave me the opportunity to think about life and myself in a different way. I got to know a different side of business, such as sustainability and why it is so important. I didn’t even know what sustainability was three years ago. Plus I also got to meet lots of new people from different cultures who I would never have met otherwise, spend time with them and get to know them.”

Jamie is now working as a manager for a New Zealand retail store.

“After studying at Otago Polytechnic I know what’s really important for me. It’s allowed me to set goals and pathways, to know my direction is in management, using sustainable practices, caring about employees, and not just being there to make money. I have a better approach to life now, and when I come home I feel really good about what I’m doing.”

Read more about the Bachelor of Applied Management 

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Everything I learnt was so relevant and has really prepared me for the business industry.

Katherine Stock

Katherine Stock was born in the UK but moved to New Zealand when she was 12. After completing high school she completed a Certificate in Travel, Tourism and Business through a private training institution. However, after completing this qualification she realised there was still so much more to learn, so when she heard from a friend that Otago Polytechnic offered multiple business programmes she did some research and decided to apply.

“I have loved my time at Otago Polytechnic. I have met some great people throughout the duration of my programme and all the tutors are so supportive and helpful. Overall, it has been a fantastic environment to be in while studying,” says Katherine.

Katherine has put her business acumen to good use working as a shift supervisor at Typo Dunedin. “I love my job as I get to work with a great team of people and sell products that I personally love. It’s a win-win situation.”

“I have much bigger career goals though and I am going to work hard to achieve them. I’m intending to move back to the UK – or maybe Australia – and get a job as a marketing executive.

“Being an Otago Polytechnic student has made me a more confident individual which will help me in the future.”