Alumni Stories - Kate Wadsworth



Kate Wadsworth 
Class of: 2003
School: Birkenhead College
Scholarship Partner: QBE Insurance Ltd

Class of 2003 First Foundation scholarship recipient Kate Wadsworth (pictured) has come a long way since her time at Birkenhead College. At secondary school, she shone as a student before graduating from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in Political Studies.

Kate now works at the Jesuit Social Services in Melbourne, Australia, as the Account Manager for Workplace Inclusion Programs. She shared with us what she is up to now in 2018 and how First Foundation provided the base for her to go out into the world and achieve her career goals.

Q. What does your job entail?

A. “I am responsible for delivering our highly successful African-Australian Inclusion Program (AAIP) – a joint initiative of Jesuit Social Services and National Australia Bank. Since 2009, over 340 African-Australians have benefited from the six-month paid, mentored work experience program, and NAB has benefited from access to high quality talent.

“The support provided by our team and the support staff at NAB means we achieve fantastic results – at the completion of the program for our most recent cohort, 90.6 percent of participants were employed at NAB or in their chosen field.

“Jesuit Social Services has since partnered with the Australian Taxation Office and John Holland to create new employment programs for a diverse talent pool of qualified people who seek an opportunity to obtain corporate experience and professional networks to launch their careers. Jesuit Social Services is a social change organisation that has worked tirelessly since 1977 to build a more just society; we pride ourselves on standing in solidarity with those on the margins or even locked out of the mainstream community.”

Q. What opportunities have you gained from being a First Foundation scholarship recipient?

A. “I started my work experience with QBE Insurance in 2003 and I was very fortunate to receive on-going employment throughout my university degree until 2009. This work experience provided me with a great start to my career and the knowledge I required to go on and start my first full time role at the East Coast Bays Electorate Office.

“Through First Foundation, I also learnt the importance of networking and maintaining meaningful relationships with those you meet along your career journey. Through my relationship with Steven Carden (Founder of First Foundation), I had the opportunity to work in Melbourne and become involved in my local community, which has led me to my current role at Jesuit Social Services.”

Q. What advice would you offer to students starting university? 

A. “I would say to keep an open mind and be curious about what you are learning, and about the views and thoughts of those around you. University doesn’t guarantee you a job, but it provides you with transferrable skills and a will to learn.

“There are also so many great resources available at university, through student associations and engagement teams – make the most of them.”

Q. What were some of the hurdles and highlights you faced during your university studies?

A. “The first semester of my university degree went well, but it was a big change from what I was used to at high school. It took me a semester to work out what was required from my tutors and lecturers to do well and make the most of the subjects I was learning. Asking lots of questions and spending time with other students definitely helped.

“I really enjoyed my Honours year and working on my dissertation - I loved having a project to work on and call my own.”

Q. Why should students apply to be a part of the First Foundation programme?

A. “I have no doubt that First Foundation provided the base for me to go out into the world and achieve my career goals. While the financial support is significant, the opportunity to work for one of New Zealand’s top organisations and learn from the best is invaluable.

“First Foundation also taught me the importance of working hard for what you want in life and creating your own opportunities.

“I’m very grateful to be a member of their Alumni and, I hope through my current role, I’ll continue to promote the importance of workplace inclusion programmes, not only for participants, but for businesses and the wider community.”

Visit for more information on the First Foundation programme and how it could help you achieve your goals.

“I have no doubt that First Foundation provided the base for me to go out into the world and achieve my career goals."