Growing a Meaningful Career, with Alysha Bentley

Growing a Meaningful Career, with Alysha Bentley

Mar 03, 2022 - Voices

Introducing Kāuru Akatoro Recruitment Lead, Alysha Bentley!

Alysha is on our hīkoi toward an Aotearoa where every young person realises their potential. Her role as Kāuru Akatoro is all about connecting with people who are interested in becoming change-makers in the education system. Hear Alysha share some of her path, as well as her advice to anyone seeking a meaningful career.

Alysha joins Ako Mātātupu with a depth of experience and service in tertiary and vocational education spaces, with graduate recruitment, programme coordination and personal development coaching in her kete. Putting young people at the centre, Alysha has served rangatahi directly in her previous roles as Regional Coordinator of Te Hononga Akoranga’s Youth Employability Programme (YEP); Student Engagement and Recruitment Manager in the Faculty of Culture and Society at AUT; and Senior Schools Adviser in the Schools Partnership Office at the University of Auckland.

Alysha works to support adults to realise their potential, too, especially when it comes to developing a meaningful career with values at the centre. Whether it's seeking a career change, a fresh graduate vocation, or a pathway to gain qualified teacher status to build on your existing work alongside young people, all are welcome to access the application and selection process to join the Teach First NZ Programme. It's about using your head, heart and hands in service of rangatahi, and Alysha has all the love for this kaupapa.

Tēnā koe, Alysha. We’re so glad to have you with us on the waka. Can you share a little of your why for joining this social change kaupapa? What do you hope for?

I truly believe education is the key to all communities living fulfilling and prosperous lives in Aotearoa. Understanding ourselves, the world we live in, and how to make it a better place starts with the ideas and values we gain while we’re young – through the people who raise and educate us – our whānau and teachers. What better initiative to join than Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ whose mission is to support change-makers to join the teaching profession and support our rangatahi to step into their potential as current and future leaders around the motu? As Recruitment Lead, my hope is to connect with members of the community who can see themselves stepping into this role and shaping the future we’re all dreaming of.

Careers centred around education and social justice don't always move in neat steps - some of our Kairapu (alumni) are now in roles they never could have imagined when they first started the Teach First NZ Programme! What has surprised you about your own career? Do you have any words of encouragement to those wishing to build their careers around serving community?

What has surprised me about my own career? Everything! Haha! My generation has grown up with the idea that you choose and train in one profession, then climb the ladder until you’re at the top. But that has not been my journey.

When I went to university I did a Bachelor of Arts and was introduced to a discipline I’d never heard of: social anthropology. In my first anthro class, I had an epiphany. Not so much about what job I wanted to do, but what challenges I wanted to tackle - and who I wanted to be as I helped to tackle them. And that’s been the defining feature of my career: identifying and taking up opportunities that aligned with my values and allowed me to work towards the future I believed in.

That ‘see-where-it-leads-me’ approach gave my parents a fair bit of anxiety (haha), but it’s allowed me to explore new avenues, build a wide range of skills and be more flexible in a rapidly changing world of work. Contrary to what my parents thought, I think it has made me more employable.

So my advice to anyone wishing to move into – or continue – a career of service to the community would be to believe in themselves and follow their hearts, as there are so many opportunities out there. So many of the Teach First NZ Programme participants have fallen in love with teaching and have become key change agents in their communities, and others have gone on to pursue other incredible careers in agencies and organisations at the centre of change. The opportunities are endless and the need has never been greater. Come and join the Ako Mātātupu whānau!

Joining the Teach First NZ Programme as a participant is an exciting step in a career of service, involving brave thinking. For those interested in this scholarship teaching and leadership training programme, is there anything you would recommend they start thinking about ahead of applying?

I would encourage people to give careful thought to why they are interested in this opportunity and how they will communicate that to us during the application and selection process. We love hearing about examples where you’ve worked alongside rangatahi; how you have engaged with your community; and your own experiences (which might be positive or not so positive) in the education system.

But I really just want to encourage people to apply. If you’re committed to social change and show up as your true self then you’re already so much of the way there.

We look forward to connecting with you.


Applications for our flagship Teach First NZ Programme are open! A two-year adventure of service and huge personal & collective learning awaits. Questions? [email protected]

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