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Advice For Career Changers and International Students

By Galena Ilg
July 6 2021

Posted in Student Resources

At Summer of Tech, we welcome students from all backgrounds and paths of life. Many of our recent alumni and industry mentors are career switchers and were international students once. 

Below you’ll find a few non-traditional ways that immigrants can get started in their new work community and find their first roles. There are lots of options – we suggest you only choose one or two that appeal to you and then see where the journey takes you. 

Join the tech community

Your existing community

Who do you already know in Aotearoa? Even if they don’t work in tech, reach out to your personal community of friends and extended family – and other immigrants! – and let them know the kind of work you’re looking for. They may be able to suggest people you can connect with, or have insights to share from their own experience.  

Hear from real people

Find others in the roles you want and ask how they got there and what and where they’d suggest for upskilling yourself. Some online courses have more value to employers than others.

Do the job while you’re looking for the job 

It’s less about lots of upfront research/study and more about finding ways to get practical experience and human connection. Whatever your situation, try to do practical things that use similar skills to the job you want. Interested in testing? Review someone’s website. Keen to get into cybersecurity? Join a group where you can practice this.   

Find companies that are welcoming of non-traditional pathways

Document your journey

Do a blog, make a portfolio, post stuff on socials, write/video your own learning journey. There are many ways to do it and it’s so useful for other learners. It also gives you credibility because people see you care and it’s obvious you’re putting the work in.   

Take stock 

Whether you’re a career changer with prior experience, or an immigrant bringing your own context, it can help to reflect on your skills and experience and do it more broadly than a regular CV. Something like this looks at the many ways that people bring value to their work. 

Think about the overlapping areas between what you bring and what your potential employers want and make sure your CV & LinkedIn highlights this.

Be specific

Based on your stocktake, make a list of companies you might have overlaps with. 

Then think of your interests and the things you care about. Maybe it’s the environment, sport, movies, culture or technology … what are your things? Start with companies that do work in those areas.


This article is originally published by Summer of Tech’s own Shirley Tricker – employer engagement manager, tech enthusiast, and immigrant to Aotearoa. Below is a summary of a talk we had in collaboration with the University of Auckland’s Career Development and Employability Services (CDES) on the future of the tech industry in Aotearoa and advice for career changers and international students.

Keen to read more of Shirley’s wisdom? Awesome – click here. 

For more student resources, click here. 

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