2018 United Nations Youth US Leadership Tour

18 May 2018
James McDonald
Jamie at Times Square, New York

Jamie McDonald is one very motivated and curious student. He cites his enthusiasm as the reason for being selected among 16 other students to represent New Zealand at the 2018 United Nations Youth US Leadership Tour.

“I knew nothing about international relations, I was just interested,” says the highly talented young man.

Not only is Jamie studying a Bachelor of Science/ Bachelor of Commerce Conjoint degree majoring in Computer Science, Psychology, Marketing and Information Management – he is running a start-up with five of his friends which has a contract with New World supermarket that takes up to 30 hours per week of his time - but is “so much fun,” he says.

“I’m currently studying a quadruple major and there’s no doubt I’m spreading myself thin, but I’ve tried to make my majors integrated as much as possible with tech, and I can handle it because of my love of knowledge.”

Jamie's pursuit of knowledge has grown ten-fold since the 30 day leadership tour which was partially sponsored by the Faculty of Science. The group were lucky enough to visit such heavy-weights as Google, Facebook, NASA, Uber, Harvard, Stanford, The World Bank, The Federal Reserve and Amnesty International. Jamie was awestruck by the calibre and range of operations in the US.

“The pace of tech and the immense scale of the US is incredible,” he says. “Meeting two-three top tier organisations every day and getting exposed to some of the brightest minds was incredible.”

Now back on New Zealand soil, Jamie is reminiscent about his trip of a lifetime. And he has three lesson’s he wants to share to other like-minded students about his time in the US.

  • The scale of opportunity is great: The economy of Silicon Valley is that same as France's, and the defence budget for the army is five times the size of New Zealand's GDP. 
  • Kiwi's help Kiwi's: It can be scary heading over there - good thing is us Kiwi’s are like a friendly cult in the US. A disproportionate amount of us are in top-tier positions (which is good), so you merely need to go to a frequently hosted kiwi meetup’s to tap into your new whānau and you'll open a world of opportunities.
  • Ditch the tall poppy syndrome: Americans are generally far more assertive and unashamed to tell people about their accomplishments. If you don't confidently say why you're a fantastic person when it's needed, it can often be misinterpreted as incompetence.

Due to networking during his time away, Jamie has been lucky enough to be offered an internship as a systems analyst at NASDAQ in New York. Currently, he is working in an internship with KPMG which he is thoroughly enjoying.

Jamie's motto is a “sprinkle of authenticity and a dash of enthusiasm can take you far,” and Jamie sure is proof of that.

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