For nearly a year, Anna swapped her running spikes for a hard hat and high vis vest as she came to grips with the need to contribute in the workplace and learn the practical realities of life as a trainee quantity surveyor.
“It quickly became apparent that textbook learning and on the job experience were very different,” says Anna. “The internship opened my eyes to what the job really entails, how a business is structured, how workplace communications operate and how different the on site experience versus the office environment is.”
While Anna says some of the early part of the internship seemed quite slow, looking back she was always learning – listening to other staff talking with clients and contractors, doing research, working with different people.
Anna says she had two highlights – the people she worked with, some of whom she had crossed paths with while studying, and the man who was her direct supervisor.
“I really want to give Allen Chen a shout out,” she says. “He was endlessly patient with my silly questions, showed me how and why things were done, talked me through the different situations I encountered, took me to meetings and was simply awesome.”
Because Anna had no major events last year she was able to commit to being in Dunedin for the duration of the internship. “That meant I could dedicate myself to being immersed in the business and make the most of the amazing opportunity.”
For Rebecca Haines of Naylor Love, being involved in the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Internship Pilot has more than lived up to expectations.
Rebecca simply buzzes with excitement. “When Anna first approached us we felt it was a no brainer to get involved in the internship. While it wasn’t something Naylor Love had done before we were excited by the chance not only because it was strongly aligned with our company’s values.
“More importantly it was an opportunity to give back to an amazing athlete from the Dunedin community who wanted to be part of our industry and we had the ability to help make it happen.
“Being able to assist a Paralympian whose goal to compete in one more Paralympics and to be part of that journey was super exciting,” says Rebecca. “Knowing Anna’s father has been in the industry for 45 years so we knew that she would have a good understanding of what the job entails.”
Rebecca was particularly complimentary about Anna and also the ethos of a high performance athlete. “What Anna demonstrated in her time with us were many of the skillsets she no doubt had to develop as a high performance athlete. Her resilience, hard work ethic, discipline and structure and ability to work through the tough stuff was very impressive.
“Anna demonstrated self-reliance and the ability to manage different relationships, often challenging for a young woman starting out in a male dominated industry. To do that straight from the start was impressive.”
When probed, both Anna and Rebecca were unstinting in their praise for the programme.
“Yes, definitely we would do this again,” says Rebecca. “We learnt a lot over the 12 months, noting there were a few take out we could certainly refine into another such internship.”
Anna has nothing but praise for the whole internship process. “From interview to starting and completing my internship, everyone was supportive and committed to making it work.
“Naylor’s taught me so much and HPSNZ were an important part of helping me work out the balance between my sport and work lives.
“This was a fantastic way to test how I can make work fit into my training and how I can integrate more into my life in sport after the Paris cycle.”
About the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Athlete Internship Programme
The success of the initial pilot programme in 2022 has resulted in the 2023 Prime Minister’s Scholarship Athlete Internship Programme providing 10 paid internships to support athlete wellbeing and preparation for life after sport.
The internship provides an opportunity to help athletes sustain dual careers, and explore work options aligned to their interests and qualifications. Participants work with the HPSNZ Athlete Internship Lead to create an internship that suits them.