Sally Ross & Manaia Mason, WDETT Administration Internship

New Internship Initiative is a Whanganui-wide Resource

A new internship role is being offered to Whanganui businesses in need of administration support. Thanks to funding secured from New Zealand Lotteries Commission, Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (WDETT) has created an internship position that will also serve as a resource for local organisations.

WDETT offers five services all designed to match the skills and training needs of employers with the potential of local people: Youth To Work for Jobseekers; 100% SWEET for school learners and school leavers; Port Employment Precinct for opportunities with Te Pūwaha; Start It Up for aspiring business owners, and Mayors Taskforce for Jobs creating job opportunities for young people aged 16-25.

Chief Executive of WDETT, Sally Ross, says the internship opportunity was devised by the WDETT team in response to the voices of local businesses; “Often when we go in to the businesses and speak with them, they ask if we have any administrators for them. They just want some one who has got some basic skill sets.”

“We eventually came up with the idea that we would employ a person. We decided to walk our talk by training an administrator to support an obvious need for Whanganui businesses.”

The solution supports WDETT operations and can be shared with other organisations; “We pay the intern a salary for no more than 30 hours a week, and no longer than six months. Our job is to give them the skills they need to apply for the job they want, in an administrative capacity.”

The internship role will give participants an introduction to administration, and work experience opportunities, working as an administrator for a number of businesses in different industries. WDETT staff will determine what the intern candidate is interested in, and how it can be developed into a role of their choice. Sally Ross explains, “We’ve found that there are different types of administration that people are interested in. We’re now approaching other businesses to ask if they want help from our intern. We’ll pay the intern’s wages, but other organisations can give them the experience they want to have. Some of the work may be communications and marketing, some of it accounting, some of it compliance.”

At this stage, there are enough funds to run three rounds of internships. The intern potentially can complete a full six months in the programme but the aim for WDETT is to secure a permanent role for the intern sooner; “If a business ‘poaches’ the intern from us, then that’s great - it’s a success story. It will give us grounds to seek further funding, to continue the concept.”

Manaia Mason was the first successful candidate for the programme which started in February. Sally Ross said, “The one thing I was specifically interested in when I interviewed for this role, was the actual career ‘want’. Manaia is seeking a career in administration. She wants to make it her journey into employment and to develop a career. Those are the kind of people we are interested in.”

Sally has got about three or four businesses that have already shown interest. “We’ve had some really cool feedback. For example, a local Private Training Establishment that is new in Whanganui is specialising in civil
construction. They are working with Port Employment Precinct and have an established office out at Castlecliff where an intern might support their work, and gain valuable experience at the same time.”

One organisation is keen to have Manaia because she is fluent in te reo Māori. Another is interested in utilising her skills for communications work. One of the companies that Sally works with through the Start It Up programme, is an accounting firm for small businesses. “They are coming up to their busy time so could use some help. We’ll facilitate Manaia going to that organisation, and she can get some experience working in an accountancy firm. That’s the fit.”

“It’s about building up these mappable skills so the interns can go and take the job they want.”

“It’s going to be a business community effort, and then as soon as somebody snaps the intern up, they’ll be gone from here, and we’ll get the next one in.”

For Manaia Mason, the variety of the learning is the appeal: "The environment at WDETT is busy and interesting because you’ve got people all around you who have got all sorts of skills, and they can can show you different things. It’s not just one thing that you are trying to learn. That has been my main highlight.”

“Everything has been going great, with Sally setting things up for me, and I love the WDETT workplace. The whole space is so genuinely family-oriented. They made me feel comfortable really quickly.”

“The team at WDETT have had a huge impact on me, personally, just within the three months that I have been here. I wouldn’t have thought to branch out with my administrative skills, if I hadn’t worked with WDETT.”

Manaia says she would “highly recommend” the internship programme: “It’s a great experience. I couldn’t be more privileged to do this. Everything - the resources, the amount of experience you get, it’s amazing. It can be really life-changing. If it can change my perspective and my mindset on so many things, it can definitely change other people’s.”

While the internship role is currently filled, Sally feels it will be made vacant fairly quickly due to Manaia’s growing skill set; “Manaia is going to disappear on us really quickly. I’m picking that will happen in the next
two to three months.”

Sally encourages anyone who is keen on administration work to come and see the WDETT team at The Backhouse Building, 12 Drews Avenue and register their interest. Upcoming internships will also be publicised on the website when the next round is scheduled.