Public Relations & Perseverance with Caitlynn Wendt

Public Relations & Perseverance with Caitlynn Wendt

Despite falling short of success in secondary school, Caitlynn Wendt is close to completing a Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) degree – and she has no intention of stopping there. A published poet and PR major, Caitlynn plans to take on a post-graduate honours programme in 2018, marking her fifth consecutive year as a Wintec student. When asked how she maintains such a highly motivated mindset in adulthood, the hard-working wordsmith credits one key factor: timing. 

After struggling with personal trials in high school, Caitlynn’s enrollment at Wintec stemmed from newfound drive, which has continued to thrive over time. She recently gave us an insight into her eye-opening Media Arts journey, which has seen her partake in the groundbreaking Design Hub pilot and have her work professionally published.  

What’s inspired you to pursue a degree in communication? Did you know you’d go down this path before starting your Introduction to Study course? 

I’ve always had a strong passion for writing. Initially, I wanted to pursue journalism as a career, but I soon found that public relations and advertising attracted me more. I think either way you go in communications, there’s plenty of writing. So I got what I wished for – a future in writing.

Have you been set on pursuing PR since beginning the BMA or did you decide part-way through? What attracts you to PR as a career? 

When I first started at Wintec I wanted to pursue journalism as a career. It wasn’t until the second year of my degree that I realised my passion was in PR and advertising. PR and advertising attracted me because of its creativity and diversity. In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.

In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.  

You did not enjoy secondary school but you have gone from strength to strength in your tertiary education. Do you think this has made you a lot more determined to succeed academically and professionally now, as an adult?

When I was in high school, I was dealing with a lot of things. It was a difficult stage in my life and I think the timing just wasn’t right. When I decided to enrol at Wintec, I had realised that I could achieve my dreams. I was ready to chase them and determined to succeed. This time, the timing was right.

You became a published poet late last year when your piece ‘False Love’ featured in Issue 1 of Wintec honours project Emergent – do you believe studying for a communication degree has played a significant part in influencing your creativity and self-expression as a writer, or has this always come naturally to you? Has poetry long been a passion of yours?

Absolutely, I’ve always had a passion for writing and I’ve always practised that passion, but never pursued it until my degree. Through my degree, I’ve had opportunities to strengthen and share my writing on an academic and professional level. My creativity and writing have improved immensely and Wintec gave me an opportunity to share my work. This has encouraged my writing and made me realise that it’s worth sharing.

Combining your Introduction to Study course, the Certificate in Media Arts, and soon a Bachelor of Media Arts degree, you’ve essentially been studying at Wintec for four years – how have you maintained your drive and motivation? 

I always thought I wasn’t good enough because I’ve had people tell me that I would never be successful. Ever since I realise that wasn’t true, I’ve lived with the idea of failure not being an option. Every time things got difficult, personally and academically, I reminded myself that failure wasn’t an option. I’ve made it this far because I realised this was a journey I had to do on my own. I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one.

I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one. 

Tell me about your experience being a part of the pilot Wintec Design Hub. What did your individual role entail?

The Wintec Design Hub was an amazing experience, both academically and personally. I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself.

I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself. 

As a Media Arts student, I helped my team with research and interviews, and understanding audiences when creating personas. There were a lot of creative thinking exercised in the Design Hub, and I think my experience in media arts suited those activities.  The Design Hub began with the goal of becoming part of the Global Network in the long run – it just happened a lot sooner than expected. I’m absolutely thrilled the Design Hub has now received an invitation to become New Zealand’s first Design Factory. The staff and students worked so hard and deserve this. Being accepted into the Global Network opens so many doors to the future for Wintec. It has been a truly rewarding experience to be a part of, and I encourage students from across Wintec to enrol.

With just one semester to go until you’re officially qualified, do you feel you’re almost ready to leave the student nest? Does your excitement outweigh your nerves at this point?

I still feel like I have a lot more to learn, even after four years, and I strongly believe in continually expanding my knowledge. I think there’s still one chapter left in my Wintec journey, and I plan to continue this chapter through to Media Arts Honours.  I am extremely excited to begin my communications career. I wouldn’t say that I’m nervous. I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.

I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.

What’s been the best or most rewarding aspect of life as a Media Arts student? 

I like the hands-on, practical approach. In Media Arts, you get a real experience that prepares you for the professional world. One of the best things about Wintec is knowing we’re fully supported all the way, and that makes anything possible. The most rewarding thing about media arts is that they celebrate everything – no work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of.

No work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of. 

Thinking long-term, where do you see (or want to see) your degree taking you in the industry? 

I enjoy getting to know people as much as I enjoy writing, and I enjoy being a part of a team. Ideally, I’d like to work within a project team or in a leadership role within the community. I am also quite interested in not-for-profit organisations and the government. My end goal is to be a part of a change and ideally lead that change. I’m open-minded and anything is possible.

Do you have a piece of advice to offer our prospective BMA Communication students? 

Don’t give up – ever. The first stage of the degree can feel like it’s too much, but it’s completely worth it. The reward always outweighs the sacrifice. Keep pressing on, you’re far greater than you ever thought.

Thank you Caitlynn, for sharing your Media Arts journey with us. Find more information about Wintec’s Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) here. 

From Psychology to Journalism with Ruby Nyika

From Psychology to Journalism with Ruby Nyika
Having finished her Science degree majoring in Psychology in Wellington, Ruby wondered, what’s next? She yearned for a job with more creativity.  After moving back to her hometown of Hamilton she searched for a course that would allow her to pursue her writing passion. Ruby enrolled in Wintecs’ Diploma in Journalism, a full-time 1-year course at Media Arts and began training as a writer and journalist from day one. As part of the intern programme at Media Arts Ruby has worked at Hamilton News and is currently placed at the Waikato Times
Read on to learn more about Ruby’s story. She discusses her experience at Media Arts and life as a student in her hometown, along with some career advice to those seeking a new direction. 
Can you describe your educational background, what are your previous qualifications? 
 Straight after high school at Hamilton Girls’ High, I moved to Wellington where I completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology with a minor in English Literature at Victoria University. I had intended to study post-graduate Psychology too.
Can you tell us about what you are studying at the moment, what attracted you to this course?
 I’m studying the National Diploma of Journalism with Wintec, which is a one-year course full of practical and relevant experience. 
Before that, I was pretty chuffed to score a dull but (relatively) well-paid job at a bank. But despite being surrounded by a bunch of cool colleagues I ended up utterly miserable there. It was a bit of a dead-end job and I wanted a career. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but knew that I wanted it to involve writing because it’s what I love to do. I started fantasizing about a career in journalism and the more I thought about it, the more impossible it became not to do just go ahead and do it. My family lives in Hamilton so I just googled Hamilton courses, applied and taa-da!


After living in Wellington for four years, you have moved back to Hamilton to live, has this been a good move? Can you tell us why?
 It has been an incredible move and I’m back in my hometown which is awesome. I’ve moved back in with my Mum so I’m very lucky there.  Quitting my job and studying journalism is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. Even though I’m studying, I already feel like a journalist and I feel like I’m finally doing something that gets me excited week to week. The course is so practical, dynamic and you get to meet a lot of interesting people!  It’s been an exciting taste of what a career in journalism would be like. It’s such a cliché but seriously – life is too short. Do something that pushes your buttons. 

It’s such a cliché but seriously – life is too short. Do something that pushes your buttons.

You are midway through your diploma, can you describe Media Art’s approach to teaching and learning? How has it worked for you and your learning style? 
 I love, love, love Media Art’s teaching style. At Uni, it was a lot of theoretical stuff, a lot of essay writing and exams. Here, I already feel like what I’m studying to be, I already feel like a journalist.  It’s very practical and everything is designed to introduce you to the career that you want. The teachers are genuinely determined to help you be the best you can be and they help you with your individual goals, rather than just ticking off general course requirements. And our entire class is so supportive of one another, we all just want to see each other do well.
Also – it doesn’t feel like we’re just being taught to be standard journalists. We’re being taught to be top-notch, five-star, ace journalists. It has been challenging…but worthwhile things need to be challenging!  To be honest- I would say I’ve been challenged more in these last four months than in my entire three-year university degree. 
Can you tell us your most enjoyable experience on the course so far?
 Hmmm that’s a hard one. I really enjoyed profiling this inspiring volunteer as one of our course assignments. She was just such a quality human being and it felt like a privilege to write about someone like that. It was also a standout because it taught me that literally everyone has a story and my job needs to be to dig up the ones worth telling.
Ruby interviews artist Nell about her exhibition for the upcoming Spark Festival
Is it true that your grandfather collects clippings of all your published articles?
 Yes. I hadn’t got my hands on any copies of my published stories at one stage, although Gramps had mentioned that he had seen them in the paper. He was in the hospital a few weeks ago and I was in his room picking up clothes for him when I stumbled across this noticeboard in there covered in a bunch of clippings of my articles! It was a warm fuzzy moment.
Can you describe how it feels to have your work published given that you are still learning your craft? Does this help you develop your skills faster, does is keep you more engaged? 
It gives you such a high to see your own stories on a news site or in the paper.  It’s also very encouraging and it’s way easier to stay engaged when I know there’s a chance that my course work could make it to a bigger platform. It does mean there’s some extra pressure on the quality and standard of reporting which of course, can’t be a bad thing. Working to an actual publishable standard half the year in (although credit where it’s due, we’re lucky to have supportive editors at Wintec that talk us through any screw ups) emboldens me. It gives me confidence that I’m chasing a career that I could do well in if I put in the hard yards.  

Also – it doesn’t feel like we’re just being taught to be standard journalists. We’re being taught to be top-notch, five-star, ace journalists.

Where do you hope to be 2-3 years from now?
Studying psychology has left me with some interest in health so I’d love to score a job specialising in health reporting. I’d also love to be a feature writer. Long term I hope to be an “in-demand” freelance feature writer with jobs coming out of my ears!
Finally, can you describe the culture at Media Arts using five keywords:

Stimulating, challenging, supportive, dynamic, inspiring

Big thanks to Ruby Nyika for meeting with us and giving us such honest and inspiring responses. Follow Ruby on Twitter and read her stories on our Media Arts student newspaper The Waikato Independent.
If you are like Ruby and already have a degree and you’re wondering what’s next, view our one-year graduate diploma options here.



Wintec is privileged to be the benefactor of Olivia Mead’s Honours Project as part of her Bachelor of Media Arts (Hons) in Communication.

‘EmergeEmergent Cover Imagent’ showcases some of Wintec’s finest creative writing pieces. Researching massive quantities of writing, Olivia has compiled a great treasure of past works, and sets a course for future writers that enables their work to be showcased in an esteemed way.

Thanks to Gail Pittaway and Cate Prestige for their guidance on the project and also in supporting Olivia advance her studies and career.

To purchase a copy of the book, please email:

Our Journalism students do change our world!

Our Journalism students do change our world!

Its clear that our students’ hold great passion when they first enrol at the School of Media Arts, and its very rewarding for us to see their skills honed over their time with us. Check out some of our stunner graduate works as featured in the Waikato Independent.

Our students don’t only feature here, but also write and maintain this great news resource. With quotes such as the below, we look forward to them shaping tomorrow’s headlines for the better.

Please click on the images below to go to the full article.


Feature Journalism Students

From Media Arts to ‘Girlfriend’

National Diploma of Journalism graduate Michelle Coursey talks about working at Girlfriend magazine, and why she enjoyed studying at Media Arts.

‘I’m currently the editor of NZ’s most-read teen mag, Girlfriend. The role is a mixture of planning content, picking cover stars, interviewing celebs, hosting events, talking about GF on the radio, representing the magazine in the world of advertisers and PR, and much more – too much to list! The parts I love the best? Getting to interact with my awesome readers, whether on Facebook, in the malls, or at special events. I also really enjoy getting to interview and hang out with celebs, as well as young girls doing amazing things – it’s always awesome to be able to sit down and hear peoples’ stories.

After I finished the Diploma of Journalism, I landed a full-time role with the Herald on Sunday as an entertainment feature writer and news journalist which saw me chasing some big breaking news stories, as well as jumping on a plane to interview Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, or chatting on the phone to the stars of American sitcoms. After 18 months in this fast-paced environment, I moved to NZ Women’s Health magazine as the sole staff writer. Six months of freelancing followed before I took on the position of staff writer at the NZ Woman’s Weekly writing gossip and celeb stories. After a year there, I was very lucky to win the role of editor at Girlfriend!

The highlight of my year at Wintec studying Media Arts was really the amazing contacts that the team helped me to make while there. With the staff’s help and mentoring, I was able to get regular work experience at the Waikato Times and the New Zealand Herald, which set me up for fantastic opportunities post-study. I also learnt a lot about the basics that I needed to get in the door – shorthand, story structures, court processes and interviewing – which stood me in great stead for my first jobs in newspapers especially.

If you are studying towards being a journalist, make the most of your tutors’ experience – ask them about their own time at publications, listen to their stories of situations they found themselves in, and store it away. Set your sights high and don’t be afraid to ask for a chance – if you are willing to work hard and can show editors some good work from your studies, many will be open to having you in the office. And when you do get into a newsroom or mag office, make sure you make the best impression you can, listen to those who have years behind them in journalism, and learn everything you possibly can. Even if you don’t get a full-time job from it, you will have stories to show or knowledge that will help you for the next time around.’

Giant bugs invade Fieldays

By Kasia Jillings

[singlepic id=662 w=320 h=240 float=left]

An AgResearch exhibition aims to make Fieldays visitors feel the size of bugs. AgResearch’s exhibition, Partnerships for Better Pastures, features four giant bugs, measuring around one and half metres long, and nine smaller bugs, that are about half a metre long, against a corrugated iron backdrop designed to look like a pasture cross section.

The exhibition is scaled to make people feel the size of a bug.

Wayne Green from AgResearch said the bugs, made by Auckland model maker John Osbourne and Christchurch company Theme Productions, are anatomically correct and very life-like.

“The bugs make for a great conversation starter … it will be a surprise for a lot of people.”

He said AgResearch tried to make the stand come alive and had been growing real weeds for weeks, to incorporate into the pasture exhibition.

Warren King, farms systems team manager at AgResearch, said the exhibition will feel like walking into a “grass jungle”.

AgResearch hopes the exhibition will teach farmers how to manage a variety of pests and weeds better.

Mr Green said, “It is important to us to engage one on one with farmers because the rural sector is the backbone of New Zealand’s economy”.

Click here to read issue one of the Fieldays Exhibitor  [singlepic id=661 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Profile: Samantha McPherson (journalism)

We first featured Samantha McPherson after her internship earlier this year. Now, while still completing the 3rd year of the Bachelor of Media Arts, Samantha is working at the Franklin County News full-time, and answered a few questions about her career to date.

Samantha McPherson during her internship

What is your current role and what does it involve?

I am the Franklin County News Features Writer/Reporter. My role involves a number of things. These include features, advertorials, real estate, news and taking my own photographs – which is something I really enjoy, as well as the job, of course. I was offered two jobs in one day – which as you can imagine was something that took me by surprise and I had no idea what I was going to do. Talk about a dilemma.

Any career highlights for you so far?

I have a couple of career highlights so far – writing hard news stories is one of them. I am a news bug – I love writing about hard news, there’s something about it that always makes me really excited. Also, settling into my new position and still juggling my course at the same time has been a highlight for me. Meeting new people within the Franklin (now Auckland) community and being able to work alongside some great colleagues whose knowledge in journalism is extensive is a great opportunity.

What are your aims/goals?

It’s important to have as many goals as you can when you begin your first job. Before I started, I wanted to get a front page photograph, a front page story, a fishing or hunting story and to write a business story as well as focusing on my features writing and other reporting duties. I have achieved these goals already and I haven’t let the remainder of my course work slip in the process – this was a big deal for me that I really considered before I even agreed to the job.

Further afield is where I am looking now – I would like to work for a daily at some stage but at the moment, I am happy with my job and I plan on sticking around for a while but in saying that, if anything came up – then who knows? I would like to become a senior reporter at some stage.

What are your thoughts on the Media Arts degree? Did it help prepare you for the industry environment?

I thought the Media Arts degree was fantastic. In particular, I enjoyed my third year the most. I found the internship paper helpful, which I believe assisted in preparing me for the industry environment as well as the course, overall. I am glad I chose to study at Wintec because throughout this course I have learnt so much and being able to apply this knowledge to the real world is something that is extremely beneficial.

The Media Arts tutors are all fantastic. They are a credit to this institute and without their help I wouldn’t be where I am today. As I mentioned before, I was offered two journalism jobs and without the help of Charles Riddle, Jeremy Smith and Steve Braunias I wouldn’t have been able to have reached a decision in the short space of time that I was given. I have managed to still complete my degree, diploma and a certificate in Maori, all while working full-time. Looking back three years ago, I would’ve never thought I would become a ‘real journalist’.

‘My Club’ – a Waikato Times series by Journalism students

 ‘My Club’ is a Waikato Times series written by Journalism students, and often featuring photos by Photography students. Each week, they will be investigating a new Waikato club. Read the stories here.

Scrabble Enthusiasts 4/6/10 – Click here to read PDF

Tokoroa pig hunters 11/6/10 – Click here to read PDF

Airsoft club 18/6/10 – Click here to read PDF

Imperial Dragoons 25/6/10 – Click here to read PDF

Soba drinkers 2/7/10 – Click here to read PDF

Embroidery Guild – 9/7/10 – Click here to read PDF

Wargamers 16/7/10 – Click here to read PDF

Collectors 23/7/10 – Click here to read PDF

Kickboxing 30/7/2010 – Click here to read PDF

Magicians 6/8/10 – Click here to read PDF

Junior Naturalist Club 13/8/10 – Click here to read PDF

Hamilton Pistol Club 20/8/10 – Click here to read PDF

Floral Art 27/8/10 – Click here to read PDF

Frisbee Club 3/9/10 – Click here to read PDF

Bowling Club 10/9/10 – Click here to read PDF

Mahjong Club – 17/9/10 – Click here to read PDF

Light Horse Club – 24/9/10 – Click here to read PDF