Working: Flight Attendent, Air New Zealand
Educated: Bachelor of Language and Culture
When you ask Sayaka Mutsui about her job, she breaks into a grin and her eyes shine.
One of just five Japanese flight attendants working on Air New Zealand short haul, the animated 27-year-old is clearly thrilled to be there.
“ It's fantastic. It's really, really great,” she beams.
“ I feel like all the aircrew are my family now. They're all really friendly, helpful and supportive. I meet people from all over the world and of all ages, from babies to very elderly people. The other day, for example, I looked after 30 fisherman from Poland!”
But it has been a long, hard grind to get where she is today.
“ I first applied to be an international flight attendant in 2000. I was accepted in 2001 but because of September 11 and the collapse of Ansett, the training course was cancelled. I was so disappointed and basically decided to forget about becoming a flight attendant. I thought it wasn't going to happen to me.”
So Sayaka pursued a career in marketing, working as a Marketing Officer at AIS St Helens and then Ascent Business Institute. She was well qualified for these positions, having already completed a Diploma in International Business and a Bachelor in Language and Culture at AIS St Helens. Last year she embarked on further study, starting a Graduate Diploma in Marketing part-time at AUT. But she was only doing her first paper when, in October, she got a phone call from out of the blue. Air New Zealand was offering her a position as a temp flight attendant on their domestic route.
Not exactly the role Sayaka had dreamed of but it was a definite foot in the door and she jumped at the chance. Within two weeks she'd left her marketing job, withdrawn from her studies and donned a smart, sophisticated Air New Zealand uniform.
In Sayaka's case, the old adage ‘good things come to those who wait’ has definitely proved to be true.
Sayaka flies around New Zealand and also to Australia and the Pacific Islands and although she's excited about the prospect of going international, she says the domestic routes have proved to be a fantastic learning ground.
“ I really appreciate being short haul. The aeroplanes are smaller and there are fewer flight attendants so you need to really communicate effectively. Short flights mean you have to do everything in a short space of time so it's a really good way to gain experience.
“ My goal though is to become an international flight attendant. I have just been made a permanent staff member so now I can put my name on the waiting list.”
Sayaka figures if she's flying internationally she'll get plenty of opportunities to see her family in Japan. No doubt they're looking forward to the prospect as much is she is; after all she's been living in New Zealand for seven years.
At just 18 she came Down Under for the first time, spending five months in Auckland studying English.
“ I loved it and decided I was definitely going to come back to New Zealand again so when I was 20 I came back to live.”
She enrolled at AIS St Helens, spending a month brushing up on her language skills in the English Language Centre before starting her Bachelor of Language and Culture. During her three years in the degree programme, Sayaka also gained a Diploma in International Business.
“ I chose AIS because at that time I was very interested in language and culture. I was always interested in world history at school. I wanted to see what was happening in the world and to get a perspective from a Western country.
“ I really enjoyed it and it was good to study business as well. It definitely helped me in regards to getting work. I studied Korean and Mandarin. In fact I'm studying Mandarin again now because I think it's so important. I'm doing Stage One Mandarin at Massey by correspondence.”
After graduating from AIS in 1998 Sayaka worked for a while in the institute's Student Liaison Department before moving into the retail industry. This gave her a taste for marketing.
“ Working in retail was a good experience. It always made me think about how to actually get customers into the shop, so if I hadn't done retail I probably wouldn't have got into marketing!”
Although Sayaka enjoyed her stint in marketing, she's happy to finally be doing the job she has always dreamed of.
And to quote another old phrase... the rest is history.back to top
Born: New Zealand
Working: English Teacher in Japan
Educated: Bachelor of Language and Culture
The short time frame and high intensity of AIS St Helens degree programs were a big drawcard for Kiwi student Aaron Menzies. "You remain a lot more focused when you don't have five months off like you do at university," says Aaron.
"If you've got more time, you muck around more. Starting my degree as an adult student, I didn't want to do that."
Aaron began his studies at AIS in May 1998 and graduated in 2000, completing his Bachelor of Language and Culture in just two years and one semester.
Majoring in Japanese, he found the "internationalism" of AIS to be advantageous.
"It's a good thing having really close contact with so many international students. You won't get that at other institutes."
After leaving high school, Aaron studied tourism in Rotorua before heading off to Japan to teach English.
"Teaching English got me interested in other languages, so that's why I chose to do the BLC."
Aaron also studied Korean during his time at AIS St Helens.
Obviously a lover of the Orient, Aaron headed back to Japan after graduating to put his new qualifications to the test.
"What I'd really like to do is work in something like a multinational corporation. I really want to get in there and mingle and use all the skills I have acquired."back to top