Otago Polytechnic
imageedit 6 9909057591
I believe everyone brings a set of unique strengths and talents to everything they do and my role is helping to understand and unlock these

Grant Verhoeven
Bachelor of Social Services

Grant Verhoeven graduated with his Bachelor of Social Services Career Practice in 2015, through Capable NZ at Otago Polytechnic.

Grant has significant involvement in the career development profession.  He is on the executive committee for Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ), the professional development committee of the National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, Australasia (NAGCAS), and he presents at national conferences, conducts research and encourages upcoming career practitioners.

In his role of Career Development Consultant at Massey University, Grant manages the career and employability service on the Wellington campus.  Within this, he enhances student digital career literacy, an important new field in career management.  For this work, he was awarded the Rising Star Award at the National Association of Graduate Career Advisory Services.

Grant is an active member of the community, serving as a mentor on the ‘Inspiring Stories Trust Live the Dream’ programme which develops young New Zealand entrepreneurs.  He is also a trustee on the Wellington Life Education Trust.

Before becoming a career professional, Grant ran an award-winning sales business as a young entrepreneur and he’s a past president of the International Coach Federation NZ Central Branch.

Grant says he has a passion for discovering the potential of aspiring New Zealanders.

“I believe everyone brings a set of unique strengths and talents to everything they do and my role is helping to understand and unlock these”.

Read about the Bachelor of Social Services.

See the 2017 Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni.

SOS profile TeAniRakete 004
With plenty of support, I’ve actually learnt to like the academic aspects of the programme. I enjoy writing essays now!

Te Ani Rakete - Ngāpuhi & Ngāti Kahungunu & Ngāti Porou
Bachelor of Social Services

Te Ani Rakete has always wanted to help people and share the experiences of his troubled youth.

“When my mother in law and sister enrolled at Otago Polytechnic, I decided to apply as well.  I nearly didn’t … when it came to the police vetting, I knew there’d be issues.”

Te Ani grew up in a gang and has been in and out of prison.  But he was ready to make a change, and the staff at the School of Social Services encouraged him to enrol.  He started with a Certificate in Human Services.

“The academic side was hard, I’d left school at 14 years old, but the teachers helped me heaps.  They’d even stay into the evening helping me in their own time.”

Te Ani got so much out of it, he came back to study for a Bachelor of Social Services.

“I’ve always been a practical person. I prefer hands-on learning to theory, but with plenty of support, I’ve actually learnt to like the academic aspects of the programme.  I enjoy writing essays now!”

Inspired by his studies and desire to help people, Te Ani and his family set up “Whānau Whānui” which means ‘Extended Family’.  It started with just his immediate family and has now grown to about 80 people.  They focus on the whole person – promoting sport and healthy living to everyone, from children to grandparents. 

Te Ani says the skills he’s learning through his Bachelor of Social Services are taking him closer to his dream: to establish a facility that caters for all aspects of life; counselling, mental health, physical health … addressing any issues someone might face in their life.  This holistic approach is very much modelled from a Māori world viewpoint. 

“That’s my end goal, and I can see that my studies will help me in that quest.”

Read more about the Bachelor of Social Services.

More Social Services programmes.

SOS profile MelanieTaylor 002
Life can throw you curveballs and challenges, and my role is to give others the support they need.

Melanie Taylor
Bachelor of Social Services

Melanie Taylor always wanted to be a social worker, but ended up working in the insurance industry after leaving school.

Then, after some big life events, she decided the time was right to follow her passion for helping people, and so she enrolled at Otago Polytechnic to begin her journey.

"It wasn’t always easy returning to study. I put high expectations on myself and it was hard to juggle full-time study with being a mum. The biggest challenge was finding the balance. However I now work as a full-time counsellor for Anglican Family Care, which  is very rewarding. I’ve worked in the position for a few months now, since graduating. I see a mix of self-referrals, and referrals from other team members – and my caseload is steadily growing.

"I’m currently working towards my full New Zealand Association of Counsellors membership. At the moment, I help individuals, but I would like to expand my expertise so that I can work with couples and families too. Counselling really is a journey – every client teaches you something – and it’s also a personal journey of discovery into your own life!"

Read more about the Bachelor of Social Services 

More Social Services programmes > 

SOS profile PetraHass 001
It’s great to see others benefit from my guidance and advice.

Petra Hass
Bachelor of Social Services

Petra Hass is a Career Adviser at the University of Otago’s Career Development Centre. Her role is incredibly varied. She helps with everything from CV preparation and cover letter writing skills, to job search strategy and interview coaching. She also designs and runs workshops to help students improve their interpersonal communication and networking skills.

“My Bachelor of Social Services (Career Practice) was instrumental in helping me launch my career in Dunedin. I worked in the print media industry in Germany, before moving here, and was ready for a career change. I wanted a New Zealand qualification that would help me find meaningful work – the degree programme at Otago Polytechnic was exactly what I was looking for!" says Petra.

“The programme was both fun and practical. It was a great way to make connections in Dunedin and build a network of friends and contacts. It also provided a fascinating introduction to Māori culture. My degree definitely helped me gain employment. It connected me to work placements giving me plenty of space to hunt out my own opportunities.

“This career requires a high level of commitment, and it is very rewarding. It’s important to enjoy working with people, and to have a good knowledge of the employment market. In the fast-paced and constantly changing labour environment, a willingness to learn and to keep up-to-date is essential!”