Annaleisha Fensom landed a Summer of Biz internship with the New Zealand Defence Force and shares her experiences working in a hands-on role across digital and social media.
Ever found the future and the prospect of job-hunting daunting nearing the end of your degree? You’re not alone. During my final year of university, a fair number of my fellow students and I likely experienced some employability anxiety, as there didn’t seem to be enough graduate programmes offered to marketing students. However, thanks to the Summer of Biz programme they presented us, students, an excellent opportunity to connect with a number of Wellington employers. Later, I landed a Social Media Advisor role with the Defence of Public Affairs (DPA) of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) over the summer, which ultimately exceeded my expectations.
I think it’s safe to say that many marketing grads picture their first day on the job as sitting in an office, filling out an induction booklet and meeting the team. To my surprise, my first day played out a little differently. They flew me down to Base Woodbourne in Blenheim to check out the wrap up of New Zealand’s largest military exercise, Southern Katipo. A once in a lifetime opportunity for a city girl, I had the pleasure of exploring the Air Force base, meeting Defence Force personnel and checking out Air Force equipment. Diving in head first on my first day enabled me to grasp a deeper understanding of the Defence Force’s mission of defending and protecting New Zealand’s interests, which prepared me for my social media role for the weeks ahead.
Comfortably sitting in a Medium and Heavy Operational Vehicle at the Southern Katipo Open Day in Blenheim.
So what is the New Zealand Defence Force about? Before this internship, my knowledge of the military was minuscule, so my best but failed attempt to answer this question would have been something along the lines of “The Defence Force is an organisation that protects our country with their soldiers and armed equipment.” After 16 weeks of picking everyone’s brain at DPA, I learned that NZDF not only defends and contributes to the well-being of our nation with its well-equipped forces but also provides aid to countries in need and maintains strong partnerships with agencies helping people, our oceans and our environment. So, it’s been an absolute pleasure being part of this organisation over the summer, that is a Force for New Zealand and for good.
Taking snap chats of the Australian Army Soldiers at the Southern Katipo Open Day in Blenheim.
One my highlights this summer was my trip to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch for ‘work’. NZDF families were flown by an RNZAF Boeing 757-2K2 from Wellington to the museum. We were all treated to special day that enabled personnel, who are often away, to spend time exploring the Air Force’s national collection with their families. My role that day was to capture the special moments of children wandering through the exhibits with their families and to share it on our social platforms. To me, it barely felt like work, as I too got to enjoy the behind-the-scenes tours. Overall, the most rewarding part of this trip was realising that I was a part of an organisation that gave back to its people who serve them and their families for the selfless acts they make.
Visiting the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea.
Another highlight was a trip to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to the cover the Royal New Zealand Navy’s annual involvement in the Waitangi Day celebrations. It was a fantastic opportunity to commemorate the signing of New Zealand’s most historic document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, at the Treaty grounds itself. My role for this trip was to cover the ceremonies on our relevant social channels and support the videographer in the live streams. By witnessing these events, I got to see the Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (my hero) and many other VIPs who attended. Also, I had the pleasure of interviewing the Chief of Navy himself, by which I struggled to hide my excitement.
A group photo of the team near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands with the Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Canterbury in the background.
The experiences and knowledge I have gained from this internship are invaluable. As someone who had just over five-months experience in social media from a marketing agency, I was excited to gain insights into what it’s like to work in a digital team for a large government organisation like NZDF. During my internship I had learned to adjust to a corporate structure and understand the series of processes for clearing and publishing content. Also, working with the digital team, I observed how to coordinate the production and publication of both engaging proactive and reactive content for our social channels. However, the most valuable part of this experience for me was collaborating with the best bunch people at DPA and being inspired by their great work ethic and dedication to the New Zealand Defence Force.