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
Find groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack, or other social media.
Join meetups (they can be in person, online or international), go to a hackathon, volunteer.
Find where people are hanging out in the areas you’re interested in and join them. Tell them why you’re interested in their type of work, ask for their guidance. People in the community can vouch for & recommend you, especially if they see your enthusiasm.
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
Ask around for how other career changers and immigrants found their roles.
Follow the company’s social media profiles, get to know their context and their people.
What are the things they post about? What matters to them? Which aptitudes and experiences do they highlight? This helps you focus on developing those skills.
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.
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.
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.
Be able to describe the value you bring in a way that employers understand.
Be supported and encouraged by like-minded folks.
Sidestep demoralising CV-based approaches. You still need a decent CV but it becomes more about you as a human with lots of things you can contribute, not just a list of technical skills.
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.