Jenny Zhang is a Chinese migrant who isn’t afraid to expand her horizons. This outlook has led her to volunteering, discovering new things and building her skill base.

After moving to Scotland for university and completing her degree in International Business, Jenny was recruited into Tesco’s graduate programme where she was transferred back to China as a retail buyer. At this point Jenny met her partner, who was living in New Zealand, so she took the leap and moved to Wellington.

A completely new country and group of people is intimidating, but Jenny saw it as an opportunity. ‘I knew from the start I wanted to volunteer. My original goal was meeting new people and trying something different,’ Jenny said.

Within her second week of being in New Zealand Jenny started contacting potential workplaces Volunteer Wellington had suggested. Through this she found a job as a volunteer general helper at Brooklyn Resource Centre.

The Brooklyn Resource Centre serves meals for the elderly, gives them a chance to gather with others, and organises speakers for them to enjoy. Jenny discussed the benefits of the job. ‘I was able to meet other volunteers and connect with the community. I was also asked to do a speech about my travels – which proved as useful experience for my CV’, she said.

While she was at the Brooklyn Resource Centre, Jenny continued taking on additional volunteer roles. ‘I wanted to make the most of my time’, she explained.

This led her to starting a volunteer retail job at Mary Potter Hospice. She also had a go at tree planting at Otari-Wilton Bush – yet another new experience for someone accustomed to the concrete jungles of Shanghai.

At this stage, Jenny’s purpose for volunteering started to change. ‘I started to want a volunteer role that would help me get paid. So I began looking for volunteer admin roles’, she said.

From her search, Jenny found a job as an interviewer at Volunteer Wellington. While there she also got to promote Volunteer Wellington to students at Victoria University of Wellington. ‘Taking every opportunity I’m given has enabled learning experiences and personal development,’ she expressed.

It was quite a journey but the time came to start looking for paid work. Within her first week of searching Jenny found her ‘dream role’ working at Weta Workshop and Weta Cave doing retail work and tours.

‘Volunteering gave me proven experience for my cover letter. In the interview I stressed my volunteer experience and had plenty of relevant examples I could use to impress the interviewers.’

Jenny felt surprised and excited to receive the job from Weta and says volunteering played a big role in her confidence for applying to the role.

Her advice for others interested in volunteering would be that while people might not find a role specifically related to their industry, it’s still a worthwhile experience. “Try something different, build opportunities, and build life experiences, because you never know what will happen.”

Story by Lydia PincottJZ weta cave photo

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