Former Iona College student Olivia Clark has kicked off her accountancy career by immersing herself in one of Asia's fastest-growing economies.
The 22-year-old was chosen for a 12-week internship in Vietnam offered by the Asia New Zealand Foundation in partnership with KPMG. She has now been working in KPMG's offices in Ho Chi Minh City for a couple of weeks.
She completed her accountancy degree at Massey University this year and said holidays to Asia had made her curious about differences in business cultures, and she said she believed the insights she will gain working in Vietnam would serve her well in her career.
So far, she had found KPMG's Ho Chi Minh City office similar to New Zealand offices, although language barriers made it harder for her to join in the office banter.
"Overall, they are all very friendly, with the individuals who are stronger and more confident with speaking English being the first to initiate conversation," Ms Clark said.
"I am starting to try and pick up a few key phrases in Vietnamese, however the pronunciation is not easy."
She had seen few other Westerners in business attire.
"I am possibly the only young Western woman going to work in Ho Chi Minh City each day. This makes walking to and from work fun, as I get many smiles, waves and hellos," she said.
Asia NZ's business programme director James Penn said professional development opportunities for young people were a key pillar of Asia:NZ's business programme.
"Six of New Zealand's top 10 trading partners are now in Asia. Giving young New Zealanders business experience in the region contributes to the long-term capacity of Kiwi companies to engage with those markets," Mr Penn said.
After returning from Vietnam in February, Ms Clark will start work in the audit team of KPMG in Wellington.