As we are all well aware, the start of a new academic year is looming large. And, as we also know, there are some potential tauira who have yet to decide on their next steps.

Hence the importance of information sessions, such as Monday night in the Hub, where would-be learners (and whānau) got the chance to meet and chat with our passionate academics.

Yet wrapped around such events, simmering away in the background, are myriad other conversations, where questions and concerns are raised and addressed in a back-and-forth dynamic that may be less formal, but is no less important.

This is where our Liaison Advisor team (and others, of course) come in. Yes, they attend a range of events, be they on campus, at schools or at expos. But they also field no end of calls and emails from those looking to move on from school, are contemplating a career change or educational U-turn.

As Liaison Advisor Steph Kerslake notes, sometimes the dots are joined outside typical office hours.

Recently, while on leave, Steph was enjoying a beach walk (and avoiding sea lions) when a lightbulb flashed in her head:

“I knew I had to get a lecturer to speak to a potential learner with whom I’d been in contact.  I reached out to Adrian Tetlow, who was also on leave. Adrian agreed to call them after they finished work at 4.30pm.

“When I returned to work on Monday, I received a text from that potential learner saying they’d chosen to study Civil Engineering. Later in the day, I spoke to the learner, who said: ‘Adrian was really helpful . . . making a decision took a weight off my shoulders’,” Steph reflects.

And the excitement of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ concert last week certainly didn’t interfere with Steph’s recruitment radar.

“That evening around 11pm, while I was in the line to get a T-shirt after the show, I received a Facebook message from a mutual friend whose son had just told her he didn’t want to return to school this year and wanted to go to Otago Polytechnic instead. ‘Can you help please?’ she asked.

“So after a few more questions, I was able to assure her that we had a place for him. I invited them to come to the Information Evening event on Monday to sign up. They did and the relieved mum thanked me: ‘Yay, I knew you’d be the person to go to’.”

For some, searching for shoes might require a single-minded focus. Yet, Steph’s multi-tasking skills came to the fore again when, while shopping on Sunday, she got chatting to a shop assistant, who mentioned her 17-year-old son had left school partway through 2022 and had since been working at an egg farm.

“The shop assistant told me how motivated her son was: ‘He gets up at 4am to get to work on time, he’s interested in plumbing and has applied and has an interview this week’.

“However, the mum was concerned that his NZQA record wasn’t currently showing all his results from 2022, so it looked like hadn’t achieved NCEA Level 2. I took her son’s details and on Monday emailed the school to advise this and have this noted on his record.

“The good news is that now he is off to have an interview with our team in Plumbing, so watch this space!”

Fellow Liaison Advisor Carly Nesbit has had her fair share of important out-of-office encounters, too.

For example, Carly was heading to dinner at a friend’s house last Thursday when her car overheated and stopped working. While waiting on the side of the road for the AA tow service, she received a call from a young woman from Auckland interested in the Bachelor of Applied Science, as well as living at Te Pā Tauira.

“She had questions about the programme structure and how it differed to what the University of Otago offered.

“She called again on Saturday while I was sitting at Lake Ruataniwha, near Twizel, watching my daughter compete in a rowing regatta,” Carly says.

“I followed up with her this week to learn she has been accepted into the Bachelor of Applied Science and is waiting on confirmation of a place in the student village.

“She is beyond grateful and looking forward to coming to OP next month.”




Published on 1 Feb 2023

Orderdate: 1 Feb 2023
Expiry: 1 Feb 2025