Inspired to make a difference

Caitlin Butler
  • Youth worker, Child

Caitlin Butler’s ultimate goal is  to make a difference in the lives of young women, helping support them so that they can reach their full potential and the 22-year-old is working towards her Bachelor of Social Work to get there.

The Auckland- based student has been studying with the Open Polytechnic, New Zealand’s distance learning specialist, for two years.

This year, she started working with Child, Youth and Family as a youth worker, working in a role that sees her delivering services to high-need young people in the care of CYFs, in a group-home setting.

“I love working with people and I love helping people. I am a care giver, being hands on around the house with what they need, making dinner and being there for them to talk to. My main role is to provide them with support as they find their feet.“

Flexibility important

Working shift work meant that Caitlin needed a flexible study solution that could fit around her busy schedule, the Open Polytechnic, she says, was the best fit.

“Sometimes I work overnight shifts, which means going to lectures during the day would be difficult. I find the best time for me to study is during weekdays when no one else is at home. So I plan my studies around my work commitments and can organise my study so that if I need to work over the weekend, I can set time aside during the week to study. I find the study materials very straight forward, which is great.”

While she started studying to broaden her horizons when it comes to work opportunities, Caitlin says she has found her studies rewarding both professionally and personally.

“Since I started studying, I have become a lot more confident than I was before. Learning more about mental health has been good because I have learned how to work with different types of people,” Caitlin explains.

“At the moment, I am learning about social work and working with older people, my grandma has dementia and my study has definitely helped me understand what she is going through. Studying has definitely given me more self-awareness.”

The future

Once she graduates and becomes a registered social worker, Caitlin wants to work with young women.

“There is so much domestic violence in New Zealand. I would love to help young women who are at risk, especially young girls.”

Caitlin believes the practical experience she has had through her current role coupled with her qualification will help her develop her career as a social worker.

Her advice to anyone considering study is to prioritise.

“I think the most important thing to do is to set yourself a plan for what you want to achieve. Once you have done that, it is easier to prioritise and fit work and other commitments in around that.”

Since I started studying, I have become a lot more confident than I was before.