The country's next batch of aspiring entrepreneurs have been given a crash course on the realities of business in Auckland this week.
The inaugural 'business boot camp,' an intensive five-day camp organised by Massey University, saw 55 financially-minded senior high school students from more than 20 schools converge on the university's Albany campus.
For Westlake Girls' student Meg Kerry, the chance to get a feel for the different areas of business was a real eye opener.
"Meeting with so many different businesses, it gives you insights which you don't get at school," she said.
The camp included visits to Air New Zealand and the Chelsea Sugar factory, and overviews of functional areas of finance, human relations, accounting and marketing from Massey lecturers and presentations by speakers from Drake NZ, Hewlett Packard, BNZ, Juicy Rentals and NZX.
The students, who gave up a week of the school holidays to attend the camp, also practiced the 'soft skills' needed for business success such as negotiations, networking, public speaking, managing their careers and dealing with stress.
NZX cash markets analyst Tim Rentzios said exposing young people, who are interested in business, to the career opportunities available to them earlier in life is an important catalyst.
"Spending a bit of time investing in these guys is a small price; they are our future CEO's, or investors, or workers," he said after the NZX presentation to the students about the basics of financial markets.
A career in finance or accounting is on the cards for Takapuna Grammar student Sophie Hilton, so visiting the offices of New Zealand's stock exchange operator was one of the highlights of her week.
"I have learned so much about different aspects of business and it's been really great to meet new people at the camp and at companies," she said.
From left - Tim Rentzios (NZX Markets), Rohan Sund (Pakuranga College), Meg Kerry (Westlake Girls High School), Sophie Hilton (Takapuna Grammar School) and Matthew Lealofimalo (Aorere College). Photo / Jason Oxenham.
The Massey organisers of the business boot camp, Dr Jeffrey Stangl and Dr Loren Stangl said there is a perception that kiwi students have to go overseas to try to find good jobs - but they have also been hearing from local businesses that they can't find motivated young employees.
"We are trying to link students and local businesses so that students realise what amazing businesses there are in our own community, and so they realise there is huge opportunity here," Dr Loren Stangl said.
"We also want to give businesses an opportunity to see some of the dynamic young people who are out there."
Stangl said a good mix of students took part in the camp because of the support of businesses which kept the participation costs low.
A third of the students at the camp came from decile four or under schools, while another third were from decile 10 schools - coming from as far north as Dargaville and as far south as Marton in the Rangitikei.
Massey University anticipates the business boot camp could be an annual event following this year's success.
For more information about the camp, click here for the organiser's contact details.