Meet the Intern: McKenzie Ball

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At Export Connect, we’re proud of our internship program. Since founding, we’ve mentored over 70 domestic and international interns from universities across NSW who seek real-world experience as part of their course curriculum, developing hands-on business skills, industry knowledge and networking opportunities that will set them up for career success. We are, of course, most fond of the interns that have joined our team. In fact, 50% of full-time staff at Export Connect started off their journey with us as interns!

With that said, let’s hear what one of our past interns had to say about her experience working with the team! McKenzie Ball joined us at the end of 2023 as part of her double degree in Business and Creative Intelligence and Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney. During her time with Export Connect, McKenzie had the opportunity to work on a variety of hands-on projects, from conducting competitor reviews to producing market reports and pitch decks spanning from the United Kingdom to the Asia Pacific region.

What were your tasks and responsibilities?

Throughout the internship, I worked on various tasks such as India Fact Sheets for SIA, where I updated economic statistics in the Indian seafood market as well as recent consumer, retail, foodservice, e-commerce or fish and seafood trends. I also updated and gathered new trade data on the varying types of seafood in the market, including toothfish, abalone, salmon and barramundi. 

I was also granted the opportunity to develop a multitude of pitch decks for Australian companies looking to enter global markets such as the United Kingdom, Middle East and Singapore. This included companies across a range of categories, including fruit, dairy, bakery and functional health products.

Another task I completed was researching distributors/retailers in the Middle East, specifically in the fresh fruit and vegetables industry. I also assisted with the development of competitor reviews for a category-specific India workshop the team was delivering, which involved researching premium imported products in categories like honey, oat milk and supplements from Western countries including the US, Australia and Europe.

Additionally, I was able to sit in on a Zoom call to assist a Malaysian client looking to expand their importation and distribution of food and beverages from Australia. Plus, I wrote a market summary for the Japanese Market where I addressed key trends including rising consumer health concerns, an ageing population and government incentives to ensure food product safety and effectiveness.

What did you enjoy about your time with Export Connect?

I enjoyed discovering the magnitude of resources that I was unaware existed/were as easily accessible. These will continue to help me in my university studies as international trade is a topic often covered. I also enjoyed researching and in turn, learning about small Australian businesses that I now look for in the supermarket. The pitch decks allow me to develop a deeper understanding of these business’s products and offerings. I also enjoyed the workplace environment and how relaxed yet professional everyone was. 

What have you gained (personally and professionally)? 

I have expanded my Canva skills as the multitude of pitch decks allowed me to become very familiar with the premium tools that Canva offers. I have personally learnt what I enjoy spending the majority of my time on–in particular, pitch decks as these give a greater insight into how Australian businesses display themselves to perpetuate their unique selling proposition to potential foreign buyers. Additionally, I learnt how to navigate resources which provided me with access into trade data and category statistics 

I also learnt how to navigate international grocery websites, particularly when undertaking competitor reviews. This taught me who the major premium grocer contenders are across the world. One that I learnt about that was previously unaware of was the large scale of Lulu Hypermarkets across the UAE.

The variety of tasks I was able to work on helped me to improve my time management skills as I quickly became comfortable with new tools, allowing more tasks to be completed faster. An example of this is the pitch decks–my first pitch deck took me just over a day to complete as I adjusted to learning the different features available yet as I slowly became more equipped with Canva, this was reflected in the higher quality pitch decks towards the end of the internship and the faster completion time.

What did you find challenging? What would you do differently next time?

At times I found it slightly overwhelming gathering research on new market trends as there is an abundance of websites and resources that sometimes indicate conflicting trends. I’d also say I found time management slightly challenging. Next time, I would also reflect on and document the progress of my work better, like writing a detailed report of what each task entailed to help with future reflections. 

We wish McKenzie the best of luck as she finishes her degree and moves into what will no doubt be a prosperous career!