June 2022, Articles

First PM's Scholarship Athlete Internships underway

Following selection of the 10 recipients of paid internships under the new Prime Minister’s Athlete Scholarship Internship Pilot, two of the recipients – Paralympic long jump gold medalist Anna Grimaldi and Paralympic sit-ski gold medalist Corey Peters – have recently started their internships.

While it is early days, both Anna and Corey say they are coming to grips with combining work, training and competition in this programme, which helps athletes segue from tertiary education to vitally important work experience. And both say that flexibility is the key to making it work for athlete and employer.

Prime Minister’s Scholarship Athlete Internship Pilot lead and Performance Life coach, Hannah McLean has played a key role to get this initiative off the ground in 2022, building the necessary employer networks around the country and acting as “matchmaker” to get the right fit for athlete and employer.

“Through the Performance Life team’s work with athletes we identified the need for them to gain work experience that will assist in their transition to real world workplaces.  Feeling prepared for career transition is one of the crucial elements that can impact on an athlete’s wellbeing both during their sporting career and as they transition out of HP sport.

“A critical part of making the fit between athlete and employer work is understanding the need for flexibility to make the unique training, competition and often travel requirements work for both parties,” says Hannah.

It is that flexibility which is a standout feature to date for two of the programme participants, Anna Grimaldi and Corey Peters.

Anna swaps her long jump spikes for a hard hat and high vis vest as part of her internship role as a quantity surveyor with Naylor Love based in Dunedin.

“No one has done this type of programme before in New Zealand so we have all had to have flexibility at the top of the priority list.  Athletes in the workplace have some very different needs – we have to contribute in our work roles while still training many hours a day and, in some years, manage travel for international competition as well, making for long days,” says Anna.

“The team at Naylor Love has been wonderfully welcoming and accommodating as I come to grips with piecing it together in the workplace.”   She also says the whole process, from interview to starting her internship, has been supportive and everyone is committed to making the pilot work.

“Naylors are teaching me so much and HPSNZ has been an important part of helping me work out the balance between my sport and work lives.”    Anna also has her eye on the long term benefit of the internship programme.  “This is a fantastic way to test how I can make work fit with my training and how I can integrate more into my life in sport after the Paris cycle.  I’m happy to be a guinea pig to help shape this fantastic programme which provides the important link from study to a career.”

Corey Peters is excited by the opportunity to gain real world work experience in his chosen field of architecture.

“I am very fortunate my employer, CAM Architectural, is led by Carl Murphy, himself a former pro para snowboarder.  He totally understands the demands of managing work and training and the flexibility to make both work to the highest standard.”

Corey says the first two months of his internship have brought home the steep learning curve he needs to come to grips with in terms of knowledge and information about the architecture industry.

“It has helped that I’m currently between seasons so my sport focus is gym based which has been a good way for me to get into the work/sport balance.  From July that will change as the domestic season starts and I will rebalance my time commitments to 30 hours on the snow and in the gym and two days a week with CAM.”

And if managing an elite sporting career with the demands of a professional career aren’t enough, Corey and his partner are expecting a baby in July which will up the ante on time management and flexibility.  With a former snow sport athlete and father of four as his employer, Corey is in the best position possible to navigate this new challenge.

Paralympic long jump gold medalist and PMs Scholarship Athlete intern Anna Grimaldi