Graduates want to be part of something bigger

Graduates want to be part of something bigger

Approaching the end of her time at university, student volunteer Lucy Kenner reflects on graduates’ growing expectations for employers’ corporate responsibility and our community’s culture of giving back and speaking out.

Lucy (far right) and fellow students meet with employers and members of the community to generate ideas for the Employee Volunteering programme, run by Volunteer Wellington.

The expectations Victoria University of Wellington graduates have for employers are changing. More than ever, the spotlight is turning to questions such as, “Is your office paperless?” “Do you support employee volunteering”, and “How do you give back to the community?”

And employers are catching on too. With these questions comes a realisation that providing a high-flying corporate environment is not necessarily a guarantee of attracting the best talent. Instead, graduates are thinking about the type of workplace where they can be part of something bigger, whether that is having volunteer days to help out with their own passions, or being part of an organised tree-planting or beach clean-up team.

Not only are students starting to demand higher standards of employers, but they are also leading by example. As I come to the end of my time at Victoria University of Wellington, I am amazed by all the incredible mahi our students have done in the volunteering space. VUSWA running the Thursdays in Black op shop to support resistance against sexual violence and Wellington Community Justice Project’s initiatives on providing advocacy and educating people about their rights are two of many examples. At this University, there is a sense that helping others is part of who we are.

As such, the partnership between Volunteer Wellington and the University is particularly apt. Not only can Volunteer Wellington support the University in its goal of being a forward-thinking, caring organisation, but Vic students can also support the profile of volunteering, particularly in the sphere of employment.

For the last three years, I have been part of a group of students interning at Volunteer Wellington. We meet regularly and provide a Think Tank for all things employee volunteering. It has been a real privilege to see Volunteer Wellington’s Employee Volunteering programme evolve and grow over this time, and to be involved in the annual Corporate Challenge. Our meetings have served as a constant reminder of the urgent need for ethical and sustainable business, which it can be easy to lose sight of when living our busy student lives’.

In Trimester 2, students from Victoria Business Consulting Club will present their strategies on the Employee Volunteering programme, using Volunteer Wellington as a case study. It is an excellent example of student initiative, and will tackle thought-provoking and challenging questions around the place of employee volunteering in the 21st century workplace.

Lucy Kenner is a final-year law and arts student and a Victoria Plus Award recipient.

Victoria University of Wellington is the naming sponsor of the Corporate Challenge, an annual programme managed by Volunteer Wellington that connects employee volunteers with projects in Wellington’s community.

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