Intern-ational Auckland experience

By Sarah Haeckel

A growing number of young Europeans are heading to Auckland to work - and are happy not to be paid for their efforts.

Around 500 people were placed by agencies in the past year to work as interns in Auckland businesses. They've usually just finished their studies overseas and pay a fee to an agency to get them a position.

Michele Delacroix*, from France, has been in Auckland since November.

"It is a huge privilege to be able to come here," she says. "I had saved some money at home but I still need my parents' financial support."

Ironically she is from Paris, the city of fashion, has come to love fashion only while working here. She is spending 10 weeks as an intern for the New Zealand Fashion Festival, part of Fashion Week.

The Fashion Festival runs from February 24 to March 4 and she is a brand manager's assistant. Her tasks include arranging meetings and answering the phone, skills she says will be helpful work experience for when she is back in France.

She likes the relaxed working attitude in Auckland. "We do yoga together at the office. In France it's a no-no to let your personal interests, like sports, influence your work.

"My main goal here is to improve my English," she says. "When you arrive in a new job, you have to be patient. You're getting more self-confident and you're learning to say, 'Yes, I am capable of adapting in a totally new environment'.

After the show is over she's off to Australia before saying au revoir to the Southern Hemisphere.

Alena Gros, a post-graduate student from inland Germany, has developed a love of the ocean while here. She has just finished a 12-week internship at Auckland's Maritime Museum.

Miss Gros' original plan was to work in the arts, but the agency arranged something else. "To be honest, when I received the message that I was going to work in a museum, I thought, 'Oh no, that's so boring'.

"I had never wanted to work in a museum. But now I can say I am really glad I did my internship here," she says. "I've never seen anyone in a bad mood here. It wasn't really work for me, it was more fun to meet all those nice people."

As part of her internship, Miss Gros did admin work and assisted with the museum's school holiday programme.

"Now that I know so much about New Zealand's history I really want to see all those places."

So next up is travelling the country - and learning to sail. Miss Gros is from a city in midwestern Germany, where the nearest ocean is more than 400km away and lakes are rare."I haven't been in love with the ocean before but now, after working here, I am."

She regrets not being able to afford to stay longer, citing living costs. "If I had a good job offer,I would stay for a couple of years."

Most internships are unpaid. The interns pay agencies to arrange placements. Fees range from $1000-$4000. Interns pay their own flights, rent, food and transport. Companies who arrange them include and

*Name has been changed at the interviewee's request.

- The Aucklander

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