April 2023, Articles

From hockey to the thin blue line

The revamped Prime Minister’s Scholarship Internship programme has worked particularly well for Tokyo Olympics Black Stick, Frances Davies, who has been able to take advantage of its increased flexibility to gain work experience that fits around her needs as an athlete.

Based in Amsterdam playing professional hockey for the prestigious Hurley club has meant Frances has only brief windows of opportunity back in New Zealand to progress her career plans, which were in the criminal justice system.

Thanks to the PM’s Scholarship Internship programme, that included work experience with the NZ Police earlier this year.

Initially a Prime Minister’s Athlete Scholarship recipient, Frances completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice at AUT University.

When the Olympic Games were postponed in 2020, Frances was able to take up a full-time job at the Auckland District Court to pursue her passion for criminal justice.

With the international sports programme getting back into top gear following the pandemic, Frances is spending most of her year in the Netherlands gaining critical international competition.

The flip side from a work perspective is it means she spends very little time in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Step in HPSNZ and its refocus on flexibility for the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Internship programme.

In a short break over Christmas 2022 until the end of February this year, Frances was back in the country and able to take up an eight-week internship with NZ Police.

Frances says that while the role was very admin task oriented it provided her with an amazing opportunity to see and hear how others worked within the NZ Police work environment.  “I was lucky to have an amazing mentor at NZ Police who understood my sports aspirations and my need to keep training even though it was technically the off season.”

Frances has nothing but praise for HPSNZ and in particular for internship programme lead, Hannah McLean.

“Quite simply I wouldn’t have been able to get in the door at NZ Police without HPSNZ,” says Frances.  “I received incredible support from Hannah on the journey.  She not only set the internship up for me but kept on checking in and following up to ensure it was working and I had the best experience.”

In an interesting twist, Frances has recently started studying primary school teaching.  “I loved criminology and my time at the District Court and NZ Police but I had to face the tough decision that while I’m still playing elite sport I simply could not do the necessary shift work that would be required.”

Frances is undertaking her teaching study through a Prime Minister’s athlete scholarship which she can mostly complete online.

She does say ‘never say never’ though.  “I would love to come back to working in the criminal justice system, but that’s a decision to be made when I hang up my boots.”

Photo: Simon Watts/www.bwmedia.co.nz