Become a student leader

Three students in ISBDo you want to develop your leadership skills and potential? Are you interested in supporting students in their study, writing or language skills?  Do you want to help a new student become oriented to university and Dunedin? Do you want some experience working with people for your CV? The Student Leadership Programme could be just what you’re looking for!

What are the responsibilities of a student leader?

A student leader helps students to become orientated to the university of Otago.

  • short term support – being available over the orientation/course approval period to help students find their way around the campus or direct them to student services they might need
  • longer term – assisting students to adapt to university life and study

What activities are student leaders involved in?

Orientation support

Get involved with O-week activities and help a first year student become orientated to life at Otago. Mentees might need help finding their way around the campus, accessing support services or adjusting to university study.

Language support

You can help to run or lead a conversational English group, designed to give second language students the opportunity to practice their English speaking skills with Kiwi students. Groups meet for one hour a week throughout the semester. You can also mentor individual second language students to help them adjust to Kiwi culture and improve their spoken English.

Student leaders who volunteer for language support or conversational English groups will be those interested in learning about other cultures and customs, and enjoy talking about New Zealand culture and customs.

We also encourage student leaders to engage in volunteer activities throughout the University and wider community to further develop personal leadership skills.

Academic support

Student leaders can be assigned to new students to help them to adapt to university life and study. Academic support might include time management, study skills advice or proof-reading assignments. You might also like to consider offering to facilitate peer learning groups in a particular subject or area of study.

Writing support (peer writers)

Peer writers are able to guide less experienced students with assignments. Guidance might be help with structuring an essay, setting out a report, or improving their writing style. The Student Learning Centre holds weekly ‘writing clinics’ staffed by peer writers. The writing clinics are scheduled to fit around the peer writer’s study commitments.

What’s in it for me?

  • Apart from meeting and working with other student leaders and university staff, you’ll get the opportunity to discover and develop your leadership, interpersonal and communication skills. Student leaders receive training and ongoing academic supervision from Student Learning Centre academic consultants.
  • Being a volunteer in the Student Leadership Programme will look great on your CV and could enhance your career prospects!  Employers appreciate graduates who are well-rounded and have a track record of involvement and community interest.
  • At the end of service, you’ll receive a certificate of recognition for your participation and contribution. You must complete the workshop programme and show evidence of leadership through participation in voluntary activities within the programme, university or community to receive the certificate.

Can I become a student leader?

To be a successful applicant, you will need to:

  • have been at Otago University for a minimum of two semesters
  • have a good, consistent academic record
  • be a good listener
  • be culturally aware and sensitive to students’ needs and experiences
  • have good communication skills
  • have a positive, encouraging and friendly personality
  • be able to maintain confidentiality
  • be enthusiastic and self-motivated
  • be able to demonstrate initiative
  • be a team player
  • have good time management skills

That sounds like me! How do I apply?

Fill out an application form outlining the areas you’d like to be involved in. This can be as few or as many areas as you choose. Please consider your own study, work and other commitments when filling out the application form. The programme assistants or coordinator will interview volunteers, organise peer support activities, and match peer-leaders to students seeking support.

Training and support

Student leaders will receive training, support and supervision throughout the year from Student Learning Centre staff and other relevant support services.

Before you’re allocated a student (mentee) at the start of semester one, you’ll need to attend an initial training workshop designed to prepare you for your new role.

You’ll also be expected to be available for O-week activities, to attend a training weekend immediately after O-week and regularly monthly team meetings held throughout the academic year. A leadership workshop and celebration of the year’s activities is held at the end of September.