Massey University CareerplaNZ

Career and student learning issues brought to you by Massey University’s Careers Service – New Zealand

Supporters’ Club

Posted by John Ross on February 9, 2009

I guess it’ll come as no great surprise to you when I say that it’s pretty crucial for tertiary students to have a support network around them.  This is at the forefront of my mind right now as I get set to speak at a range of events that are planned for students starting at this university – and their parents.  Yes, it’s orientation time for us!


What might be a surprise is the number of students that I see who’ve left it until their final year to decide what they want to do.  And yes, this does include many on ostensibly vocational programmes!  This is one of the myriad of issues in which a student’s support network can help.  This network might include parents and partners but it can also include other family; co-workers; friends and indeed anyone in the student’s circle.


Career choice can seem a daunting task and many have no real understanding of it, hence the tendency to delay or to ignore it.  Yet it’s increasingly important to engage with the process and – ideally – to do so early.  It goes without saying that the demands of student life are many and varied – there’s generally a fine balancing act to be found between academic commitments; extracurricular activities and a social life.  Increasingly, added to this mix is the need for students to work while studying – part-time during semesters and/or in the vacations.  At Massey, we additionally have thousands of students who are completing their papers and programmes at a distance and many of these are doing so whilst in full-time employment.


Importantly, each and every one of these facets of tertiary study can be a great opportunity for students to find out more about themselves; build their networks; test out their beliefs, ideas and values and develop useful skills and knowledge.  Indeed, employers expect to see evidence that job seekers have the skills they claim to have – and prefer this evidence to come from different aspects of the person’s life.


If you are in a student’s support network, how then can you help?  First and foremost, I’d say by encouraging the student to see every experience as valuable.  Also, by making yourself aware of the pressures that they’re under but also of the opportunities that they have.  Universities such as Massey offer services and opportunities that can help students achieve academic; professional and extracurricular goals – how many are you aware of?  You can act as a ‘sounding board’ for them and encourage them to reflect on their experiences and to articulate them – verbally and in writing.  This will serve them well in their career development and job search endeavours.  



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