How my leap into the unknown got me a job at Accenture
March 24, 2021
Tommy Scanlan grew up in Samoa in a tight-knit community where everyone knew each other. Making the transition to college and uni in Wellington was a big enough deal. Interning at a global company was a quantum leap further. Tommy never dreamed that, when his internship ended, he’d be offered a full-time job.
I was born in Auckland, but I grew up on the Polynesian island of Apia, Samoa. My family lived in a small village of Alafua – seven of us in our three-bedroom house. I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors, playing sports with my cousins and going to the beach. With my big extended family, I had a clear place in the world and knew everyone in my community. I felt blessed.
In 2012, when I was 15, my Dad got a job in New Zealand and so he, my Mum, my sister and I moved to Wellington. After going to a tiny school in the islands, it was definitely scary going to Wellington College with 1,000+ students. The campus was so big I used to get lost going to class!
The change in curriculum was also challenging. I only just passed year 11. But I managed a merit in year 12 and was only a few credits off Excellence in year 13. For the first time, I realised what I was capable of.
I wasn’t too sure about going to uni, but my parents were so positive about it. After starting Computer Science at Victoria University of Wellington, I transitioned to Information Systems because I felt it was more hands-on. I enjoyed my degree, worked a couple of jobs and made life-long friends.
It was one of those friends who encouraged me to apply for the TupuToa Internship Program. TupuToa is an amazing organisation that provides professional learning opportunities for Māori and Pacific students in corporate, government and community roles. It’s not just a summer placement. You also get support before and during the internship. It’s a fantastic stepping stone on your way to a professional career.
When they told me my internship might be at Accenture, I raced to research the company. It was overwhelming when I realised how big Accenture is – more than 500,000 people helping clients in 120 countries. The range of their work is also mind-blowing – everything from strategy to operations.
Deep down, I was scared I might not be good enough. But I took a deep breath and jumped in – and my internship was amazing. Everyone at Accenture was really supportive and welcoming. I immediately felt this was a company I’d like to work for. It was like a family. You really got the sense everyone wanted each other to succeed.
I particularly enjoyed bonding with the team, getting to know them on a personal level. It was also great to join the Accenture indoor team and play with people from all levels of the company.
As my internship went on, I learnt not to be nervous about putting forward my ideas. As a young islander growing up I had always been shy and afraid to voice my ideas. But Accenture taught me my ideas are valuable – and that there’s no such thing as a silly question.
A few days before my Internship finished, there was a get together with TupuToa where we took team photos. At the end, one of the managing directors said they had a special announcement. I had no idea what it was about. When they asked me to come back on Monday in a full-time role, I felt excited, happy and shaken all at once. It wasn’t until I got home, told my family and saw how proud they were, that’s when it started to sink in.
I still can’t believe it.
I’m looking forward to seeing where my job at Accenture takes me. I’m excited to work on different projects, meet fascinating people, learn every day and gain heaps of experience.
My message to other Māori and Pacific students considering a TupuToa internship or applying for a job at Accenture is to just go for it! The unknown is scary and it’s OK to feel nervous or unsure. But, if you take it one step at a time, amazing things can come out of it.