As a Gallipoli Youth Ambassador, University of Auckland Engineering student Charlie Norton discovered that personal opportunities could give him the chance to make a difference for other people too.

There I was in Gallipoli experiencing the magnitude and profundity of the ANZAC centenary celebrations in person but also with the opportunity to document it for other young New Zealanders at home.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there and not everyone can go on every trip but by using social media we can share our experiences with each other.”

Charlie started taking up opportunities at a young age, going to the London International Youth Science Forum when he was still at school.

“That was an awesome way to get into it coming from a very science orientated background, especially meeting all the other enthusiastic participants from around the globe.”

That experience instigated a domino effect for Charlie, attending the UN Social Pre-COP on climate change and becoming a Gallipoli ambassador in the succeeding years.

“One thing kind of led to another really. I started with the science focused trip which led to the climate change convention, at which point I realised that taking these opportunities had engendered in me a drive to create social change. All from putting in that first application in year 12”

That drive is certainly still strong for Charlie, he is about to go to Switzerland to participate in the Global Changemakers conference for young people of influence from around the world.

Charlie’s experiences have inspired Charlie to set up a website, The Opportunity Space, aimed at helping connect other young Kiwis with global opportunities.

“It doesn't cost to put your name in the hat, so why not? Every opportunity is different and it may not come around again. If I hadn’t done the things I had I wouldn’t have made all the great friends I have made. Having talented, driven people like the friends I met as contacts all over the world can be a real benefit when you are moving forward with your own ventures.”

According to Charlie, and good news for those of us who look despairingly at how light our CVs are, the most important thing when submitting an application is not what you have achieved in the past but what you hope to achieve in the future.

“In my experiences interviewers are more interested in someone who is looking to make a positive difference than someone who is just looking to pad out their resume.

“Though in saying that, having something like the Pre-COP on your CV can make a real difference when applying for jobs and scholarships.”