Work Experience Program for Queen Margaret College Learners

During July, we had the opportunity to host two Queen Margaret College (QMC) learners on a newly created week-long work experience programme designed to help introduce young adults to the corporate world as well as the various occupations available in the aviation industry.  The goals of this programme were to:

  •          provide two learners with the experience of working in a medium-sized NZ owned global business;
  •          provide insights into the major occupations in the aviation industry;
  •          trial an internship model between QMC and an external partner.

The collaboration with QMC began with a meeting between the Principal of QMC and the CEO of Aspeq where it was realised that an internship programme could be mutually beneficial. Learners from Year 12 and 13 interested in the programme were asked to apply by submitting a video application and Bella Ashill (Yr 12) and Lucy Sladden (Yr 13) were the successful applicants.

The learners were introduced to what can be involved in the usual day-to-day tasks of staff in the Professional Services (Quality, Security, and Facilities Management), Finance, Business Development, Project Management, IT, Question Bank Management and Customer Services departments based at the Lower Hutt office. They were also treated to a day down in Christchurch where visits to the Christchurch Air Traffic Control Tower at the airport and the Christchurch Engine Centre were organised, as well as a trip into the sky as they were taken for a flight in a six-seater plane by one of our flight examiners.

Throughout the week, Lucy and Bella were given valuable insights into general business processes as well as those very specific to Aspeq which involved either informative or interactive sessions with each of the business areas in Aspeq.  They also participated in all events such as the monthly company-wide ‘CEO Briefing’ through to the ‘finished work for the week’ Pictionary competition on Friday afternoon. It wasn’t just all PowerPoint presentations though as activities were designed which included creating a mock project plan and even presenting it to a group of staff.

When asked, Bella and Lucy advised one of their biggest surprises/most notable take-away’s from the week was that they thought the company would be very segregated and each department would be isolated. This all changed afterwards though, and they informed it was completely different to what they thought it would be like. They were nervous in the beginning but said they were very much welcomed and easily felt the sense of ‘community’ at the office and a feeling of belonging. The Aspeq ‘family feel’ is something a lot of staff also report during our engagement surveys, so this was extra pleasing to hear from the students as well.

When asked whether they would recommend this internship to a friend or not and what insights they gained, Lucy and Bella advised:

“100%. I learnt so much, met a lot of amazing people, got a lot of new contacts and I now know what I am working towards in the future. I have a greater understanding of what I want to do, and how I want to do it. I think that anyone who is struggling to find their passion should do something similar to this, due to the exposure you get to all the different aspects in the company and into the aviation industry.”

“Yes, I would recommend this as it was super interesting to see how a business runs. As a high school student, we sort of have no idea what it’s actually like in the work force when all we know is internal assessments and exams. It gave an insight into how a degree isn't limiting and I can still pursue a number of different areas of the work force. I learnt that an office job can still be super interesting.”

Queen Margaret College is an independent girls’ school in Wellington, providing education for learners from Year 1 to 13. Established in 1919, the school has just celebrated their centenary. The school’s vision includes providing a holistic education to help their learners become confident, principled women who make a difference in the modern world, which we love to think we may have helped with.  

The aim of the program was to have two levels of engagement; firstly, to encourage women into aviation, and secondly, to continue to give back to our local community. We understand that the Aviation industry currently has a huge demand for new pilots to service the ever-increasing global flight numbers, and to be able to have even the slightest influence in this (and to also improve gender balance as well) was considered a great reason for Aspeq to design and implement this programme. To show young ladies that being a pilot is just as much of a potential career choice as working in business is something we stand behind and is something that we hope to keep aiding going into the future.

Bella and Lucy were also asked if there was any other way they could have gained a similar experience. They advised:

“Definitely not, I don't think I could've gotten this anywhere else. This was a once in a life-time opportunity.”

“No, I think the only way a person can learn this much is through exposure in the real world and having that job experience opportunity.”

Feedback has been readily requested from all involved (including the students) and the program will be improved where required to ensure the most value is being generated and taken from it. While the first school the program was offered to was Queen Margaret College, it may be something extended to other local schools if all goes well.

Left to right: Aspeq's Gordon Alexander, Shani Bennik, Adila Bajema and Shannon Lal, who joined Lucy and Bella on their trip to Christchurch.

Julie Vaughan, one of Aspeq's Flight Examiners, took Lucy and Bella for a flight around Christchurch.

Bella and Lucy presenting their project plan to Aspeq staff.

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