Our Wellington and Manawatū campuses are open, Auckland remains closed at AL4. More information.

Graduate says work integrated learning made entering the work force “less daunting”


Gina Kelly studied a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in public relations, from 2015 to 2017.

Graduate Gina Kelly provides an insight into her studying journey with Massey and moving into the workforce.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to Massey.

I am Palmerston North born and bred. I was in Year 13 at Palmerston North Girls' High School and had no idea where or what to study. A good friend of mine helped me go through the Massey prospectus to figure out what I would like to study. Who knows what I would have ended up doing without her! 

What did you study at Massey?

I studied a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in public relations, from 2015 to 2017. I completed some elective papers to explore other areas of interest such as journalism, management and sociology. I returned to Massey in 2019 and undertook the Graduate Diploma of Teaching (secondary, specialising in junior English, senior and junior social sciences).

Where did you do your Work Integrated Learning?

I completed the year-long business internship paper through Massey Business School in 2017. I was placed with Programmed in their property services division. Programmed is an international brand founded in Australia and has a large workforce over there, and Programmed Property Services are located in 13 New Zealand towns and cities too. The main service they offer here is painting maintenance.

Many of New Zealand's national brands are under maintenance contracts with Programmed to care for their building assets. Another main industry that Programmed serves is education, keeping many of New Zealand's schools painted and maintained. I was based at the Palmerston North branch but actively worked with all central region branches including Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Manawatū and Taranaki. My main project was conducting market research on new and existing customers within the education sector. The aim was to source and collate data on schools and gain new leads and prospective customers for the central North Island sales team. 

What did you get out of the programme?

The programme was pivotal in my growth as a student. Moving from lecture theatres to office spaces, you learn so much while staying on university campus. The one day a week I spent at Programmed was also a nice change from the books and lectures to a more social and collegial environment. It was these experiences that made moving on from university a much easier transition as all the 'firsts' of a new job were already tried as a student. It made entering the workforce a lot less daunting.

I also gained an additional year's skill set that I would not have had otherwise. Experiences from client management, using CRM software, engaging with internal and external stakeholders, to even the little things like Microsoft Excel all added to my graduate CV. Luckily for me, at the conclusion of my internship in 2017, Programmed offered me a full-time position at their NZ Head Office as a National Sales Coordinator. Having the experience from my internship and working with four branches across the country meant picking up the remaining branches as part of my full-time role felt like a good 'next step'. In this role, I was responsible for coordinating and distributing sales and marketing collateral to the 20+ account managers across New Zealand as well as supporting them with weekly, monthly and quarterly sales reporting.


Gina (far right) decided to go back to the books and train to be a secondary school teacher after working with Programmed for two years.

What made you pivot to teaching?

In a complete 360 degree, after two years working with Programmed, I decided to go back to the books and train to be a secondary school teacher. I was ready to try something new. Having learnt from my coordinator role that I loved helping and supporting other people, it felt right to do this in a different capacity while being able to upskill and gain new knowledge for myself in the process. In my first year of teaching, I was in charge of business studies which I partly attribute to the knowledge, business etiquette and skill set gained through my time as a business internee. Without my internship and industry experience, I would not be as an effective business studies teacher as I have so many real life examples to draw on.

Would you recommend it to current students? Why?

I would highly recommend that current students take up some form of Work Integrated Learning. It gives you an added advantage when entering the workforce. It could be the difference between making a connection who might give you your next job or figuring out that a certain type of work or industry isn't for you, so you can focus on areas of interest when graduating. The whole experience is really what you make of it and if you go in setting goals and chasing career ambitions then it will open doors for you.

How did Work Integrated Learning help you transition from a student into the workforce? 

I think the experience made me a more confident and well-rounded graduate. You already have a head start by having real life industry experience and the transferable skills learnt from interning are so beneficial, no matter where you end up afterwards. I have been able to take skills from my internship year in 2017 and apply them in a completely different industry four years later.


She is currently a second-year teacher 

at Horowhenua College in Levin.

Are there any lessons you would like to share?

Go out and try different things beyond your perceived ability or skill set. You don't know until you try. I still think about those 'what if' moments - what if I never took an internship? What if I never got the chance to work for Programmed? What if I never took a chance and tried teaching? (which I love). I'm so glad I took up those challenges and gave them a shot because it has led to some pretty awesome outcomes.

While at university, don't be scared to learn from others. I would chat with lecturers, peers, mentors, and workplace connections to gain wisdom and experience from them. By networking and building meaningful relationships everywhere you go, you are creating a hub of people who will help and support you with opportunities time and time again.

What are you doing now?

I'm a second-year teacher at Horowhenua College in Levin. I am in charge of business studies, and have taught media studies and English over the past two years. I have also developed the Year 9 and 10 media studies programmes, which began last year. I have ambitions of creating a junior commerce programme to help students with financial literacy understanding from an earlier age. Beyond the curriculum, I love getting to know students personally and helping them develop into striving rangatahi. I love the pastoral side of teaching and knowing you are the champion in someone's life. 

Related articles

Massey alumni values the opportunity to study later in life
Work integrated Sport and Exercise successes celebrated
Students and businesses benefit from work-integrated learning
Massey University signs up for work-integrated education