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It’s okay not to have all the answers when you’re seventeen, Villa Maria College student, Charlotte Ball admits. She was certainly one of many who simply didn’t know what they wanted to do after school. However, she didn’t let her uncertainty stop her from looking at options.

Enrolling in their school’s Gateway programme, and supported by their coordinator, Sonya Fitzgerald, they explored different career options Charlotte found interesting.

“It was a good way for me to experience career options I was interested in and better understand what I’m going to do when I leave school,” shares Charlotte.

Charlotte is into cycling and has started competing, and is into living a healthy lifestyle. As an athlete, she became interested in personal training and decided to explore that further.

“I got a work placement with a personal trainer and be at the gym at five in the morning with my PT and help run sessions. I learned a lot and gained more understanding about why I was doing it.”

“I got to understand what they are going through, talking to their caregivers helped me in learning more about how the brain works.” – Charlotte Ball

She is also interested in a career in rehabilitation, something she discovered the unfortunate way.

“I’m looking at possibly a career related to rehabilitation because I went through that myself. I broke my back in a cycling crash when I was racing.” It is two years since the crash and Charlotte is still going through rehabilitation.

“I never thought about a career in rehabilitation until the crash happened. Then, going through the rehab, it just opened my eyes and I thought this is cool, supporting people to get better.”

With the help of industry training organisation, Careerforce, Charlotte enrolled in Careerforce’s Gateway programme and got a work placement at Equitas, an organisation providing homes for young people who have suffered a brain injury.

“Going there opened my eyes to a whole new side of life. I got to understand what they are going through, talking to their caregivers helped me in learning more about how the brain works. Some of the stories are quite sad, but you gain a deeper understanding.”

She says her biggest takeaway from the programme is developing her interpersonal skills. “I learnt to interact with different types of people, how to be around them and support them.”

Charlotte thinks that later in life, she would possibly like to be a police officer but for now, she’s hoping to earn some money and then do rehab studies.

She’s glad to have got more clarity on career options after doing the Gateway programmes and associated work experience, and she recommends that students give this a go too.

“I know there are a lot of people like me who have struggled at finding the motivation to come to school. But having that creative outlet in Gateway to do what you’re passionate in, for me it definitely gave me a reason to come to school. I was looking forward to going to my work placements.”

“I told my friends in year 12, just take Gateway. It gives you a bit more direction for when you leave school. You get to trial what you’re interested in, figure out if it’s actually for you.”

Careerforce Vocational Pathways Advisor, Nicole Boyd says, “There is no failure in Gateway. Students are given the opportunity to figure out what career options are out there. It allows them to explore their strengths, interests, and even helps them realise that particular jobs maybe are not for them. That is still a win.”

New Zealand is experiencing many workforce shortages across the broader health and wellbeing sectors. For more information on Careerforce Gateway programmes related to health, wellbeing, social and community services, visit the Careerforce website: www.careerforce.org.nz/high-schools/for-schools/

Employers are encouraged to open their doors to students looking for work placements by becoming Gateway employers. For more information on becoming a Gateway employer, get in touch with Careerforce. www.careerforce.org.nz/high-schools/for-gateway-employers/