A group of 70 aspiring future business leaders have spent the week touring businesses across Auckland as part of Massey University's second annual Business Boot Camp.
Massey Business School finance lecturer Dr Jeff Stangl said the commerce and economics students were selected from 33 high schools to take part in the programme.
Stangl established the boot camp last year with his wife, marketing lecturer Dr Loren Stangl, in the hopes of inspiring the next generation of business students.
"We want to really open up their eyes to what they can do when they leave school, possibly to opportunities they haven't considered," he said.
"Most of these young people will have multiple careers and we want them to go out there knowing that a career in business can mean many different things.
"Of the 70 students here, you will have students who in 10 years' time will be the new entrepreneurs of the new New Zealand.
"One of the key messages of business boot camp is that it's ok to be 17-years-old and not have your whole life mapped out.
"They might be thinking that they're going to be a financier or go into marketing or HR, but in fact, we expose them to a variety of different companies, small to large, different sectors, so they know that there are many different types of opportunities out there beyond what they might have thought about."
Stangl said through his role at the business school he was often told by those in the industry that there was not enough skilled labour to drive business forward.
"That's a common story, but yet on the other hand, you have these students going; 'there's no job opportunities in New Zealand'.
"That's really a sad story because New Zealand, as we all know, has such huge potential, there's such huge talent here.
"We see our role as trying to foster, to engender that kind of spirit to become New Zealand's next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders.
The students visited 25 businesses, ranging from small start-ups to established corporations including Spark, the NZX, Microsoft and Air New Zealand.
"We'll teach them fundamental business concepts and those all-important soft skills - like critical and entrepreneurial thinking that employers are looking for," Stangl said.
See a video of the students visiting GridAKL below:
Rangitoto College student Simon Barnes, 17, said he was looking embarking on a con-joint business and computer science degree next year and had enjoyed the networking opportunities the boot camp offered.
"It's great, there's a really good dynamic, there's a lot of camaraderie."
Marist College student Stephanie Gallop, 17, said she was shoulder-tapped to go on the programme by her accounting teacher.
"[I've] learned that your path is not so straight-forward. You may think that you want to go here but you'll end up going in so many different directions."
Former Westlake Girls' High School and current Massey University student Meg Kerry attended last year's boot camp and described the experience as transformational.
She said the experience gave her the confidence to pursue opportunities and she also learned how business concepts could be applied in the real world.
Kerry said the group's NZX visit showed her how economic theory translated into the day-to-day running of a stock market, while a talk given by a female manager inspired her to not let stereotypes get in the way of her goals.