But is getting a degree enough to land the job of your dreams? In 2019, maybe not.
Massey University IT students Simon Barnes and Britney Pringle are both are fans of tertiary education but think real-world experience is just as important.
“A degree is helpful, but the soft skills that real-world experience gives you are also important when it comes to landing a job after uni,” Barnes said.
“There will be well over 1000 IT graduates completing their studies when I do, so for me it’s about ensuring I stand out from the crowd. My additional experience that’ll help me with this.”
Pringle said theory is good but knowing how to apply it to the real world is more important.
“You need to see theory in action to drive home your understanding,” she said.
“A lot of my classmates focus on understanding the facts and figures of an assignment but not how that works in the real world.”
Real-world experience alongside a degree looks different to everyone.
Barnes was involved in the Young Enterprise Scheme at high school, spent a year in Germany on a university exchange programme, and started his own business.
Pringle works for a telecommunications company and helps small businesses develop their website and social media.
Earlier this year the pair also joined 18 other Kiwi university students in the Huawei Seeds for the Future scholarship.
The two-week, fully-funded trip mixed business with pleasure.
During the first week, the students went to Beijing and experienced the Chinese culture first-hand like learning Mandarin and tai chi, and visiting the Great Wall of China.
The second week was spent at Huawei HQ in Shenzhen.
Andrew Bowater, Huawei NZ Deputy Managing Director, says Seeds for the Future allows students to see Huawei’s operation and help that inform their career decisions.
“Our programme gives undergraduates the opportunity to meet the professionals leading their fields and ask them why they do what they do,” he said.
“This programme is highly immersive, really allowing students to understand how businesses outside of New Zealand collaborate and share expertise when it comes to the IT industry.
“We aim to provide a vital link between classroom learning and the type of real-world situations students will face once they enter the workforce, both challenging and inspiring students who are considering a future in technology.”
For Barnes and Pringle, their post-uni career prospects look brighter than some other students’, thanks to their real-world experience.
“My biggest piece of advice is to go to as many events as you can and meet people,” Barnes said.
“Universities and industry bodies put on a load of free events; you just have to go along and introduce yourself to people.
“It’s also important to understand that opportunities don’t just show up on your doorstep. Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities or go in search of them in order to differentiate yourself from other graduates.”