13 December 2023

My First Part-Time Job in New Zealand: Yamika’s Story | Study with New Zealand

Yamika Gandhi

When international student Yamika Gandhi first came to New Zealand to study, she wasn’t sure how she'd find a part-time job, manage her finances, and handle the job and university together.

Now, after building a flexible schedule that balances work and study, browsing the New Zealand job market, and earning money to do more with her free time, she has experience and advice to share with students looking to take on a part-time job while in New Zealand.

Yamika’s first part-time job in New Zealand was with a catering company. However, she found that their hours of operation and long shifts they offered did not suit her study schedule. Even with the company letting staff choose exact shifts they were available to work, the timings meant that most work shifts on offer were when she had classes.

With her first job not suitable, she needed to find a new role where she could prioritise her studies while still having regular work hours each week.

Luckily, her second part-time job, waitressing at a local Indian restaurant, gave her exactly that. Located just five minutes from where she lives and the University, she works at the restaurant for five to six hours a week, depending on her study schedule.

“I got very lucky with this job. It’s perfect in every way I wanted: it’s close to my dorm and the Uni, I get a warm Indian meal after every shift, and the shifts are quite flexible as they understand that I’m studying.”

“It’s more comfortable to communicate with the people who run the restaurant because they are Indians. I worked every Monday and Tuesday in the evening for two or three hours, and that never interrupted my schedule because I worked my shift after I was done with lectures. At that point my brain was usually saturated, and I needed a break anyway, so my shifts never took away from my study time.”

Despite already having a busy study schedule, working a part-time job didn’t take up all of Yamika’s free time. As her employer understood that she was studying and respected her boundaries around the amount of work she could do, she still had plenty of time for relaxation and fun.

“I still went on trips; I still did fun stuff. The best part about having a part-time job is that it gives me some amount of financial freedom.”

“Now I can think beyond just paying for food and rent… I can actually buy the things that I want, afford to go for trips, and even start saving money for my post-study work visa!”

Yamika did have some advice for students who want to get involved with a part-time job while in New Zealand.

“I came here with the impression that it would be easy to find a part-time job, but it’s not. I went to this website called Student Job Search and I started looking at job postings. On the surface, it does look like there are a lot of jobs available, but when you get deeper into it, you realise that you have many constraints as a student, and this eliminates a lot of your options.”

“Either the timings didn’t suit me, or the workplace was too far away from my dorm, and I didn’t have any means of transport. Some jobs also had strange requirements – some needed applicants to have a full driver’s licence and a personal vehicle, some needed applicants to be a resident or a citizen, and some needed contact details for a referee.”

“I had to contact my previous employer in India for this purpose. I also found that even to be a waitress or a salesperson, you need to have a cover letter and a CV. That was pretty surprising to me.”

Another thing that surprised Yamika about the job market in New Zealand is the high rate of rejection and lack of responses.

“I sent out 10, 15 applications, but I didn’t really hear back from anybody.”

“The first month was a struggle. I think all the positions I applied for online just didn’t work out. But I want to encourage other students to keep going. I’ve heard that work experience specifically in New Zealand helps you find a full-time job later in your professional field.”

“Your future employers want to see that you understand the work culture here and can mingle with people from different ethnicities. Plus, your part-time employer will then become your referee. New Zealand is a small country, and networking and references matter a lot here.”

To get her waitressing job, Yamika found that visiting the restaurant in-person and meeting with management got her a better result than applying online.

“I went up to the boss and I said that I needed a job, can I work here?”

After a successful trial shift, the job was hers.

Yamika shares her experiences as an international student on her Instagram blog (@yamika.gandhi) and her YouTube channel.

While a part-time job can offer international students in New Zealand some financial freedom while they study, many students can find it difficult to secure employment.

If you want to get a part-time job while you study, you have questions about what to expect, or you want to know what type of jobs are easiest to balance with your studies, be sure to read this blog.

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About the contributors
Yamika Gandhi

Originally from India, Yamika is studying her Master of Applied Data Science at the University of Canterbury. She shares her experiences on her Instagram blog (@yamika.gandhi) and her YouTube channel (@yamika).