Savvy graduate clinches pay-to-study deal

02:39, Jun 18 2013
Student Funding
STANFORD BOUND: Amelia Jenkinson has been sponsored by InspireNet to go to Silicon Valley and study at Stanford University on a scholarship.

A Massey University graduate has set off to learn business from Silicon Valley giants, including Google and Volkswagen, thanks to a partnership with Manawatu business Inspire Net.

Amelia Jenkinson, 23, left New Zealand this week for Stanford University's Summer Institute of General Management, a four-week business course aimed at exceptional students in non-business fields.

Miss Jenkinson, a former Miss Manawatu runner-up and Tui girl, will do the course with 100 others from more than 25 countries, attending lectures and touring the business-incubating Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay area of the United States.

"It's for people who don't really have a background in economics, finance, or any sort of management skills," she said.

Having just completed her Bachelor of Communications, Miss Jenkinson hopes her Stanford experience will improve her long-term career prospects.

"Even though I've got my degree now I felt like I didn't have enough behind me to get a good job.


"Having an undergrad [degree] is like owning a pair of socks. So many people have undergrads now, so you have to keep taking these next steps to differentiate yourself."

Networking with other budding business people would be one of the most important parts of the trip, she said.

Without any institutional help to cover the US$10,000 (NZ$12,000) course fees, she wrote to a handful of businesses and eventually negotiated a partnership with internet provider Inspire Net.

"It absolutely blew me away," Miss Jenkinson said.

"I said that I'd be more than willing to go into a partnership with the company, where they pay my tuition fees and I'll work for them when I come back."

Inspire Net managing director James Watts said it was a lot of money to "gamble" on one person, but he believed in the importance of retaining New Zealand graduates and giving a hand up to the right person.

"She's a young person with motivation and drive, and hopefully she'll bring back a skill set we can use," Mr Watts said.

Miss Jenkinson will produce a company history for Inspire Net, and also work on information packs for rural communities connecting to high-speed broadband.

Mr Watts said he did not expect her to stick around forever once she had met her end of the deal.

"I think she's bigger than our company. She probably wants to go international and be a high-flier."

Manawatu Standard