Be. Lab Talent Story: Loa and Vaka Tautua

Welcome to our Be. Lab Talent Story series. We share stories from some of the outstanding individuals who have been matched with employment through our Be. Lab Talent Shop Programmes.

Loa looks down with a smile. Text reads Be. Lab Talent Story Series.

Here, we meet Loa, who found that in this highly competitive employment market (now made even more complex by COVID-19) searching for the right role can be a daunting task. Working with Be. Lab’s Talent team was a significant turning point for Loa: we supported her to discover a meaningful career, driven by her love of connection. 

Loa loves connecting with people 

With an infectious laugh and a bubbly personality, when Loa’s not socialising with her friends and family, she can be found cooking up a storm in the kitchen or experimenting with her photography and painting. She’s a big advocate of living outside her comfort zone: 

“You can’t grow if you stay in a place where you feel comfortable.”

Loa’s passion for connection and personal growth is the driving force behind her desire to help people. That's why she decided to study social work following high school. 

Staying motivated while job hunting

As a new graduate in a highly competitive field, finding a job was taking longer than she expected. While Loa applied for positions (she lost count of how many!), she decided to volunteer at her local hospital as a guide. This was a great way to fulfil her desire to help others and stay motivated while she searched for the right role. 

A significant turning point

Loa was working with three recruitment agencies when she discovered Be. Lab’s Talent Shop – our one-of-a-kind programme that connects talented access citizens with outstanding employment opportunities. Our unique service also provides motivated individuals with professional development, mentoring and ongoing support.

Meeting the Be. Lab team in person was a defining moment for Loa:

“Because many of them also have access needs, they could really understand my journey.”

It was this experience of connection that resulted in a significant career pivot – Loa moved away from her social work background and realised a desire to work in the accessibility space.

Now that Loa had determined her direction, the next step was finding the right role. The Be. Lab team worked closely with Loa to discover her strengths, fine-tuned her CV and helped her prepare for job interviews through interactive role-play. 

The best part, according to Loa, was the constant communication, which she felt lacked with other agencies:

“The Be. Lab team was always in contact with me. Letting me know about opportunities and roles that would be ideal.”

Above all, Loa felt listened to: 

“This was the first time I felt that an agency cared for me as a person.” 

A love of connection leads to a meaningful career

After a few months working with Be. Lab, an exciting opportunity presented itself. Loa was offered the position of Disability Information Advice and Support Co-ordinator at Vaka Tautua, the only Pacific health and social services provider in Aotearoa.

Kristina Sofele, North Western Manager of Vaka Tautua, says that along with many other qualities, Loa brings an incredibly valuable youth perspective to the organisation. This, together with her love of connection, led to a recent promotion – a new position designed to facilitate social connections between access citizens in the Pacific community, both in an online and physical space. 

Just like her laugh, Loa’s enthusiasm for her job is infectious:

“I really love connecting with people, so to be able to facilitate that, I’m just like yay! Before I started this role I thought, ‘where are the Pacific community support groups?’ I’ve always wanted to be able to create something like that. The fact my new role is doing just that is amazing!”

Thanks to the support and encouragement of the Be. Lab team, Loa is now thriving in a meaningful career that utilises her unique background, strengths and passions. 

An encourager at heart, Loa has some final words for others who are determining their next career steps: 

“If the method you are using is not working, change it. If you’re not happy with what’s going on, change it. Make sure you try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Take it one step at a time and be patient, because it will happen!”

We also spoke to Loa’s employer, Vaka Tautua for their point of view on being a Talent Shop employer - take a look here.

Be. Lab's Talent Shop matches talented individuals with access needs or health conditions to meaningful roles with leading employers across New Zealand.

Learn more about the programme and apply here.


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