30 May 2022

My job search tips for international students in New Zealand

Clare Lu
Bachelor's student

International students often ask – how do I find a job while studying and when I graduate?

Well, here are some “secret” tips: 6 ways to network before your graduate which will set you up for your journey in New Zealand. But, you may ask, I’ve done all these things, but I still can’t find a job? Read on! I have some extension tips for you.

I’m Claire and I’m originally from New Taipei City, Taiwan. I came to New Zealand in 2017 to study. My journey started at an English language school and then on to an ACG foundation course. This year is my last year as an undergrade student, majoring in political science and international relations with economics as my minor. I am now privileged to work at Wellington City Council.

Use professional support networks and services

Networking is great, it helps you understand what industry you want to work in and which company you want to work for. However, what about the interview, and what about your skillset?

In 2021, I attended a Work Connect programme. It included 10 hours of workshops and individual coaching sessions. Programmes such as this can help us understand what knowledge is important when we attend an interview, including knowing about the local environment including the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori culture and Kiwi English.

Aside from cultural aspects, I have also learned to understand my own skills and how to express them both on cover letter and interview.

How to become more employable

Don't wait till you finish your studies to start thinking about your career.

Leave your comfort zone

I understand as an international student you probably want to connect with people from your own culture or a similar background. That’s not a bad thing!!! However, don’t just isolate yourself once you have found these friends.

You will gain really valuable knowledge and skills when you meet people from different cultures and backgrounds. Getting the balance right is important.

However, you might wonder – how do I meet more people? Joining university clubs and attending academic seminars is important and I found this really helpful. If you want to meet people more casually, you can also join a Meetup group and attend social networking or cultural exchange events.

There are many opportunities to meet people but remember you will have to step outside your comfort zone. I say, ‘do it’.

Self-development

There are a lot of opportunities, but you need to be proactive. Here I want to suggest that if there is something you are interested in, find online or in-person resources and learn more about it.

I remember there was a professor who kept telling us “活到⽼,學到⽼”. In English, It means “you will never cease to learn as long as you live.”

Why is self-development important for job hunting? For me, I think it’s because I will learn more about myself such as, what are my expectations for the future and what are my goals. Having this kind of vision is good when you look for a job. If you are an employer, I assume they would want to hire anyone who has some idea of what their vision is for the next five or ten years.

Understand how you can continue to grow and learn. No one is perfect, but when you look for a job, you might think – I fit the job description but why didn’t I get the job?

As you continue to learn and grow you will discover that there are always areas that you can work on and areas for improvement. This is normal. One thing you could do, if you don’t get the job is to email the company and ask, “Do you have any feedback?” or “Is there anything I could do differently next time?” Asking things like that not only challenges the interviewer to rethink why you weren’t the successful candidate, it can also help to know what you need to improve on next time.

As I say, no one is perfect and as my professor said, “you will never cease to learn as long as you live”, so be positive, proactive and embrace the opportunities that come your way. Good luck!

Share this story
About the contributors
Clare Lu
Bachelor's student

Clare is studying a Bachelor of Arts at Victoria University of Wellington and working part-time as a data administrator at Wellington City Council.