Sophia Ernst

Sophia Ernst

4th-year student, Bachelor of Business in Economics and Bachelor of International Hospitality Management in Event Management conjoint programmes

Her favourite part about AUT is that there’s always something going on to further your learning or to ensure that you have a good time, says Sophia Ernst who is studying economics and event management.

“For me, there was really only ever one choice when deciding which uni to go to, and that was AUT. I was drawn to AUT’s overall approach to learning and how they view their students. I’ve always felt like a person with value; not just a number. I also liked that the learning is very hands-on and interactive, as that reflects my personal learning style. After being here for the past four years, I can wholeheartedly say that it was the right choice for me and my future career path.

“If you’re a new student there are so many opportunities for you to connect with likeminded people, and have some really valuable and fun experiences. We have career expos, talks with alumni and professionals, free hangi, fun activations, events at Vesbar… The list goes on and on. When I first started, I was really worried about not finding any friends, but AUT made it super easy for me to connect with so many great people that it was no problem at all to fit in and feel welcome.”

Sophia is now playing her part in helping other students settle in and feel welcome at AUT. As a student ambassador, she is one of the friendly faces new students first meet at Orientation. It’s a role she loves.

“When I first started at AUT I was very introverted and was finding it hard to come out of my shell. Becoming a student ambassador enabled me to step out of my comfort zone. I wanted to give back to my AUT community and be someone students would feel comfortable reaching out to if they need help. Being in a position where my actions can have a positive impact on someone else’s experience at AUT is really special. I know it can be scary starting uni, but I love being able to take a little bit of that scariness away and help others feel welcome.”

The perfect mix
Enrolled in Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of International Hospitality Management conjoint programmes, Sophia says she likes the idea of having two very different courses of study.

“On the one hand, I have the very hands-on hospitality aspect that heavily focuses on real-life applications where I get to plan an event, work in a kitchen and experience how a working restaurant operates. On the other hand, I also get to learn about a wide variety of business sectors and get an insight into real problems and what can be done to solve them. I really enjoy this diversity, and think that these degrees really complement each other.

“For me it has been the perfect mix of business and hospitality while giving me insights into different industries as well. While it’s definitely a challenge doing conjoint degrees, the reward of is invaluable. Studying two different subjects also gives you the flexibility to fall back on either one or both of them in the future.”

Expecting to complete her studies later this year, she already has a good idea of what she wants to do next.

“I’d love to be involved in the public sector, working at the Commerce Commission or the Ministry of Business. I get a lot of enjoyment from giving back to my community and it would be a privilege having a job in which I can impact everyday Kiwis and work for a better future for all of New Zealand.”

Advice for other students
Now in the fourth year of her studies, Sophia has some great advice for other students.

“Take risks and put yourself out there. I entered AUT without any of my high school friends and managed to make friendships that I know will last a lifetime. There are so many opportunities at AUT, and all I can say is that you should go for them all because you never know what you might get out of it and it could be the best thing that you do.

“My other piece of advice is to ask questions. Asking questions enables you to get the most out of your learning, as well as build relationships with mentors and lecturers. Many of the opportunities I’ve had are due to me asking about things and engaging in class. I can guarantee you that you’re not the only one with the same question; others may just be too shy to ask.”

There’s plenty of support if you’re struggling with the question of what comes next after uni, she adds.

“My biggest challenge at AUT has been figuring out what I want to do after I leave. However, through my time at AUT I’ve had the opportunity to experience so many different industries, which helped me figure out what direction I want to take. There are so many opportunities to network, connect, experience and learn from people out in the workforce. I took part in the AUT Shadow a Leader programme, and every semester there are also career expos where employers come to AUT and present job opportunities. The Employability Lab also offers really helpful courses on everything job related and they are a great place for support or any questions.”