Pop quiz – What is the labour status of the second biggest group of volunteers coming to Volunteer Wellington?

Answer – Student

Over the last 12 months, 574 students called in to offer their services for free to the Wellington community. That’s an impressive number – and a reflection on the willingness of young people to give their time despite busy study schedules and hefty student loans.

Amongst them are a good number of accounting students, who as well as recent graduates, are keen to apply their knowledge in a practical environment.

So we’re sending out a challenge to you, our members. Can you think creatively about how to engage an accounting student or recent graduate in your workplace? Perhaps your organisation’s accountant, bookkeeper or treasurer could mentor a recent graduate. We figure that if, as a sector we can engage more accountants at the start of their career, then hopefully we’ll all be better off when it comes to the end of the financial year and we’re seeking auditors. The more community-minded accountants and auditors, the better, we say!

This story about Frank Chen , shows how both lives and organisations grow through taking on a student with potential. It is included in a Volume 2 of our publication, Stories about Volunteers and Volunteering.

No work experience! No Problem!

When Frank Chen came to New Zealand from North China aged 17, he said ‘I knew how to say “hello”‘, “goodbye”, “I’m hungry”, and not much else!’

Thanks to the English classes provided by Porirua’s Aotea College, however, Frank’s language skills steadily improved.  After a successful year’s study, he headed to Victoria University to gain a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance.

Towards the end of his degree, Frank started considering potential career options – and that’s when he faced his next big challenge. Apart from some cleaning jobs at university, he had no real work experience. He quickly realised this was going to be a significant barrier to achieving his career goals.

Undeterred, Frank approached Volunteer Wellington, and was offered a position at the Royal NZ Foundation for the Blind.  One day a week for several months, he worked on a range of fundraising activities, which included the annual Red Puppy Appeal.

Frank Chen

Frank Chen [Photo credit: Rise, Ministry of Social Development].

My boss, Grant Verhoeven, taught me a lot and it was a great opportunity to learn more about New Zealand culture,’ he says.

Frank’s hard work was to prove worthwhile when he subsequently secured a paid position as a Support Officer at the Ministry of Social Development.

Out of the 26 people interviewed, Frank was the first to be offered a position.

He has also featured in a cover story on migrant volunteers in Rise, the Ministry’s flagship magazine.

There’s no doubt Frank has come a long way since his arrival in New Zealand, and he is convinced that volunteering has played a big part in his success.

‘There are a lot of similarities between the work I did with the Foundation for the Blind and what I do now,’ he says. ‘I feel really satisfied that my voluntary work experience has paid off.’  

Interested? Contact Volunteer Wellington!

If you’d like to know more, phone us on 499 4572, or email us on vw@volunteerwellington.org.nz.


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