Shadow Tech Day - Bringing school students into the workplace


Secondary school students taking STEM subjects often don't know about roles and opportunities in the technology and engineering sectors. Shadow Tech Day provides a simple framework for industry mentors to give individual students an insight into their work.

What is Shadow Tech Day?

Shadow Tech Day – a New Zealand Technology Industry Association (NZTech) initiative run in partnership with local institutes of technology – was established in response to the low numbers of women working in IT and engineering. First run in 2014 as Shadow IT, it aims to demystify these sectors and encourage female secondary school students to choose STEM-related subjects at secondary and tertiary level. Mentors bring students into their workplaces for one day.

Why get involved?

For employers facing a shortage of skilled workers, Shadow Tech Day is an easy way to get involved in careers promotion. It provides a structure for the day, is suitable for small and large companies – there might be just one mentor and student – and doesn’t require any further commitment.

Mentors take students to work

Shadow Tech Day mentors are professional women working in roles such as: website designer, software engineer, systems analyst, business analyst, service desk engineer, civil engineer, project manager, and programmer.

On the day, students meet at the institute of technology for a presentation about roles and qualifications in the technology industry, then visit their mentors’ workplaces. They might tour the office or site, attend a team or client meeting, or work on technology-related activities.  On their return to the institute, the students learn about study pathways with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects.

One group of students visited the BNZ

Six Year 11-13 students visited the BNZ Corporate Office in Wellington where they:

  • Toured the BNZ museum and dealing room
  • Visited the desktop services team, who talked about what they do, showed them how to assemble a computer and gave the girls and their mentors a quiz to complete
  • Listened to five senior women tell their stories about career pathways, what they do and why they enjoy their jobs, and heard opportunities for women in technology roles from  a member of the executive team
  • Lunched with the mentors
  • Visited the ATM test lab – this took longer than expected as some of the girls were so fascinated with learning about the technology behind the machinery.

“It changed my views on the industry”

Hearing about the various technology and engineering-related roles at the BNZ, the different pathways into these careers and – importantly – why people enjoy what they do, made a big impact on the students. They all commented on the wide variety of jobs in just one workplace.

“Visiting a bank is different to what I expected, there’s more technology.”

“It was really good. I didn’t realise there were so many opportunities at the BNZ and in the industry.”

“It changed my view on the IT industry; I didn’t know how banking was so involved with technology. It was really eye-opening – before I wouldn’t have thought about those sorts of jobs, but now I can see all those opportunities.”

One student had already decided to study software engineering but found the experience valuable because it showed where that qualification could take her. “Today has opened up my mind to roles such as manager.”

Showcasing technology roles at the BNZ

 “What an incredible day with a great group of next generation female STEM entrepreneurs and innovators,” says Kat Kolich, Enterprise Architect – Information and BNZ’s Women in Technology Community Leader. “Shadow Tech Day was an opportunity to showcase a number of technology roles women do within BNZ that the students can aspire to by focusing on science, technology and maths.”

If you’d like to be involved in Shadow Tech Day, contact NZTECH 


Over 300 girls were involved in Shadow Tech Day this year, with events held in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.

Find out more about Shadow Tech Day

Our thanks to Kat for her time and advice. If you have any queries please get in touch

September 2016