Date posted: 10/02/2022

Give your career a kick start with the Achiever Program

Olivia Mahey’s enthusiasm and love for accounting led her to apply for the Achiever programme while she was a student at the University of Auckland.

The Achiever Program provides students undertaking tertiary accounting studies across Australia and New Zealand an opportunity to apply for valuable paid* work experience with a participating Chartered Accountants ANZ partnered employer. Students get industry experience and the opportunity to learn firsthand from employers.

Olivia Mahey

When Olivia was accepted into the program, she expected to be placed with an accounting firm. She was instead given a unique opportunity to work at Spark, one of the largest telecommunications companies in New Zealand. Olivia found that she learned more than she had ever imagined from working at Spark.

“When I found out that I was with Spark, I thought to myself, ‘what does a telecommunications company have to do with accounting?’. But I didn’t just learn about financial theory, it's a much bigger picture than that and its helped me in so many ways. It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life,” she says.

While preparing for her internship, Olivia discovered there were many opportunities out there for accounting students to work in roles across a whole range of industries including telecommunications. She was excited to learn the processes of the business, and for her first office experience.

"My first day was filled with meeting new people, learning names, familiarising myself with the part of the office that I was in. I was really nervous but really excited about doing a tour of the office and having my own desk," she says.

Over the three-month program Olivia gained confidence in her studies, skills, and future career. “Working in the Corporate Finance Business Performance team really gave me an insight into where all the data that they work with comes from, and how a team comes together to collate it so that it can be accurately presented to the market.”

"The thing I most enjoyed and valued was the interaction within the workplace because everyone in my team at Spark was so supportive, kind, and professional. They genuinely cared about me which made me feel valued. I hadn't experienced that before," Olivia says.

"I never realised how important company culture and workplace relationships are and it's something that I remembered when looking for graduate positions. I believe that the people you work with will make or break your experience."

Through the Achiever Program and with the support of her internship manager at Spark, who regularly checked in with her and encouraged her to ask as many questions as possible, Olivia learned firsthand the intricacies of business operations including forecasting, budgeting and how companies plan for the years ahead.

"The Achiever Program is an opportunity for you to kick start your accounting career and get your foot into the professional world."

Since completing the programme, Olivia has started a graduate position at an accounting firm and will be commencing studies towards the Chartered Accountant designation. During her internship with Spark, Olivia said she learned to seize new opportunities and communicate openly, the importance of workplace relationships, and both accounting and business skills that have helped her get to where she is today.

Olivia advises students to embrace the Achiever Program and learn as much as possible. She recommends anyone interested in applying for the program to be as prepared as possible.

“To prepare yourself for the recruitment process search up psychometric testing and interview questions online, and practice through these as much as you can,” Olivia says.

“When you get accepted, do your research on the company that you are going to be placed with. It’s very helpful for you to know what the company does, what their goals are, anything interesting that you may have read about them that you could mention in the interview.”

She urges potential applicants to apply for the program, as you never know what you might learn and how it could help you in the future. Olivia found that her internship not only taught her valuable skills to further her studies and career, but also helped enrich her life as a whole.

“Keep an open mind towards the opportunities that come your way, because you don’t know how much of a positive impact it could have on you until you have experienced it.”

*The salary for student placements is at the discretion of employers and does vary firm to firm.

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