Whitireia and WelTec recently arranged an inaugural week-long ‘kai and kōrero careers expo’ at the campus in Porirua to connect ākonga (students) with graduates and local employers enabling ākonga to get first-hand advice on how to successfully qualify and transition into work.
The expo was arranged for ākonga enrolled in a range of programmes at Whitireia and WelTec including construction, business and administration, nursing, health science, and social work. Local employers who came to share their insights included the Taeaomanino Trust, Porirua City Council and building company, NZ Proud.
“We arranged the event in this format because we recognised that graduates could provide encouragement for our existing ākonga by sharing helpful tips based on their own experiences,” says Katerina Kaiwai, Team Leader, Student Engagement in the Learner Journey Directorate at Whitireia and WelTec.
“Our graduates shared how they navigated learning and personal challenges to achieve their goals. For example, how they tackled any learning requirements, supported wellbeing, managed single parenting and other life events, to help inspire current ākonga to keep going despite a range of circumstances they might encounter. This provided existing ākonga with valuable insights and inspiration,” says Katerina.
Grace Matenga, who graduated from Whitireia and WelTec last year with a Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) was one of the graduates who joined the career expo to share her experience with current ākonga.
“I was able to tell my story to students, sharing with them my studying style, how I got through my degree, went on to get my job at St John Ambulance, and that in July this year, I was granted my authority to practice. But my pathway to get here was not straightforward. I did not do that well in high school and to gain entry into my degree at Whitireia as a mature student in my late twenties, I had to do a foundation course. I didn't have someone to look up to when I was a student, and I hope by hearing from me, the students will have even more confidence to follow their chosen paths.”
“The careers expo was also a great way for current ākonga (students) to hear directly from employers about how to prepare for an interview, win a role, the realities of the workplace, and to hear first hand that knowledge, motivation, and life skills are just as valuable to secure a job as technical abilities and practical work experience. These insights will help our ākonga as they start to think about their next steps into work,” says Andrea Truman, Head of Learner Pathways and Support.
“The successful event created a space for current ākonga, graduates and employers to have meaningful kōrero and develop mentorship. The journey through the world of education and into the world of work can be challenging. Hearing directly from those who have walked the path before and who are willing to be so candid about the struggles they faced, as well as the rewards they earned, gives hope and purpose to our ākonga” says Katerina.
“Our aim to support ākonga to become confident, capable, courageous and resilient. When our current ākonga see graduates who have achieved their qualifications and are in meaningful work, they know they too can successfully qualify and contribute to our local communities through doing mahi (work) they enjoy,” says Mark Oldershaw, Manahautū Executive Director at Whitireia and WelTec.
The intention is to develop these opportunities further with career events planned in 2023 to help ākonga make a confident and successful transition from study to the workplace.