Job-Ready Tips for International Students
This post was co-authored with Mohammad Syed, an intern from our SoT2015 programme. Mohammad is passionate about supporting more international students to success through Summer of Tech, so here are his top tips for international students preparing for job-hunting in New Zealand.
New job, new country, new opportunities!
The stress of looking for your first job can be compounded if you’re doing it in a whole new culture and country, so here are some tips for international students seeking IT jobs in New Zealand.
First up: Welcome! We love the diversity and mix of people in NZ, and you are most welcome to participate in Summer of Tech. There are only a very few internship roles related to government projects that may not be suitable for people who are not NZ citizens or permanent residents. For the rest, your student/work visa will be enough for a paid summer internship!
During our CV boot camps, we encourage you to know yourself, know your strengths, and put yourself in your prospective employers’ shoes, and try to understand any barriers there might be to your application.
It is a well-researched subject, but unconscious bias in recruitment is a real factor, so you can be aware of any obvious or subtle barriers to you as a candidate, as a first step in overcoming them.
Is the perception of your English language skills a barrier? Eliminate the barrier by taking every opportunity to talk to your potential employer. Come to our SoT events. Attend local industry meetups. Make sure you come to our Meet & Greet events, which is your opportunity to build rapport with employers and get chosen for a more in-depth interview.
Before we even get to our recruitment season in September, you can start doing things NOW to build your confidence with Kiwi small-talk. During your studies, seek out different groups of students to do class projects with. This can be a scary and challenging idea, but breaking out of your social group and your comfort zone by working with people from different cultures is a great starting point. It will force you to speak English, and having Kiwi’s in the group means you will start to get familiar with Kiwi slang and work styles.
Communication is going to be key to getting your job, and doing your job. In your career you’ll need to communicate your ideas, ask questions, participate in team projects, talk to colleagues and present to groups. IT is a team sport, even for the most technical roles, we can guarantee you will be communicating with people on a daily basis.
Culture shock? It’s tough when things are unfamiliar and you feel like you don’t know the rules. Reach out for support, especially when you first arrive. Talk to the student support office at your tertiary institution. Seek out a Kiwi “buddy” who can help settle you in. Don’t be afraid to ask the basic questions, if something’s confusing or weird, there’s probably a reason, and the only way you’ll understand is to ask!
Is NZ work culture different to what you’re used to? You’ll need to understand how and what drives your employer. You’ll find out very quickly that New Zealand is a very egalitarian culture. It’s very rare to have a hierarchical corporate structure, respect is definitely given and shown to the managers, but probably in a different way to how it’s done elsewhere. Women often hold senior leadership positions in New Zealand organisation, and it’s definitely a good policy to be open and respectful to everyone you meet who represents a potential employer.
Unique? Make it a strength! You have had to overcome huge challenges just to get your education in New Zealand. You’ve chosen to move here, and if you’re seeking a permanent role and career here, then you can tell your story that shows how motivated you are to build a new life here. Your employer will see the passion and motivation that will translate into a loyal employee.
Who can help? Your tertiary institution will have an International Student support team, so definitely start there. Regional services are listed on the Immigration NZ website: https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/move-to-nz/getting-help-support, and there are Newcomers Networks throughout the country: http://www.newcomers.co.nz/
Auckland’s InAKL network with services, events & connections.
Wellington’s Work Ready in Wellington programme is worth checking out, too.
Finally, word of mouth plays a pivotal role in SoT (and any job search)… so if you’re a domestic student, inform your international friends about SoT. If you’re an international student, invite your friends to attend SoT events. We welcome all students to SoT 🙂