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Volunteering as an entry step into a dream career

03 Apr 2019

Ara student Isla Reeves is a serial volunteer.

Most of her life she has been volunteering across numerous organisations including a political party and 298 Youth Health Centre. She has been helping out with various projects for animal welfare organisations and she has been supporting young people to find their way through a poetry collective called Faultline.


Isla Reeves 

For Reeves volunteering means learning and gaining new experiences and finding the right path along the way.

“Being a volunteer helped me to define what I want to do. I didn’t leave high school like some other people not knowing what comes next. I left high school knowing what I was passionate about and where I was headed.”

She is encouraging fellow students to make the most of Student Volunteer Week 2019 and attend the Ara Student Volunteer Expo to figure out how they can get started.

Student Volunteer Week celebrates students making a change in their communities, and connecting young people with opportunities to get involved with volunteering.

“There are so many organisations I’d love to help out with but it is important to choose the right one. I myself had to think carefully about which ones I would enjoy working with the most and what each organisation or charity would get out of me helping them,” said Reeves.

While Reeves never received a cent for her efforts she has been benefiting from her countless hours of unpaid work in other ways.

“If you show people you’re interested in something, if you’re passionate about it and willing to learn they want to offer you more opportunities to do that.”

One experience that stood out to her was being invited to the annual Labour Party conference as a delegate. Reeves was on the youth advisory board at the time and left an impression on the local MP who invited her to come along.

Reeves said for her volunteering means not only giving back to the community but also supporting organisations or services and help them improve what they are doing.

“Nothing in any area will change unless people work together and figure out what needs improving and how they can achieve that. I’d rather do that, volunteer my time and be on lots of advisory boards than hope someone else would.”

“I think it’s cool when organisations realise there is something they can do to better and ask for help from people who are experts or know more about a certain age group,” said Reeves.

So far, Reeves has been able to get jobs in her chosen fields of social work and teaching without a degree, just through her volunteering experiences.

She has decided to take her passion further and study a Bachelor of Maori Language and Indigenous Studies at Ara.

“Eventually I would like to become a teacher. But no matter where I end up I want my Maori language skills to be a big part of my career.”