OPAIC Employability Manager Dani Mao and Learning and Teaching Specialist Bruno Balducci presented at the 2022 Internship Summit organised by the International Internship Network last Friday.
Their online presentation was entitled “Exploring the flexible delivery of student internships with sustainability projects”.
Dani outlined our internship programme in the context of OPAIC’s vision of developing New Zealand’s most employable graduates.
“The internship programme plays an invaluable role in students transitioning into the workforce,” she says.
She reported on the impact of the Covid lockdown and work restrictions last year, which required a more flexible delivery of the programme.
Dani also outlined different internship models: work placement, entrepreneurial project, hybrid/online project.
One further option offered to students was to do their internship through Green Office Toitū, the campus-wide sustainability hub, offering meaningful professional development learning in exchange for work to progress OPAIC’s sustainability strategy.
Green Office Toitū allows interns to organise events, promote climate action initiatives, share carbon footprint tools, and conduct relevant research projects.
“Meanwhile, students enhance their employability skills, particularly innovation and leadership soft skills,” says Dani.
“Work-integrated learning will become an increasingly important part of the united vocational education system, Te Pukenga, giving people the opportunity and flexibility to education that is more directly relevant to the changing needs of the workplace,” she says.
Bruno followed on from Dani’s presentation with details of our research into students’ perceptions of their internships, with a specific emphasis on learner capabilities and motivation.
“We have found that the capabilities intern students value the most are verbal communication, teamwork, independence, problem solving and responsibility,” says Bruno.
As for motivation, the most striking outcome of the research was the extent to which Green Office students were able to speak with real enthusiasm about what they did, what they have learned from it, and how their commitment to sustainability has grown.
The presentation was very well received, with good engagement from the audience and the event host, including an interesting discussion on soft skills, says Bruno.