1. Set your goals early
Think about where you’re going and what you want to achieve. Identify the practical, technical and soft skills that employers in your field are looking for, and work towards building those skills.
“It’s not enough to have a qualification. Your future employers will also want to know what skills you have gained over the time you’ve been studying, and evidence of applying those skills,” says Chris Bridgman, Careers, Internships and Employment Manager for the University of Canterbury.
He says skills employers now expect from graduates include critical thinking, communication, self-management and the ability to work well in groups.
2. Find support
For international students at New Zealand universities, careers support includes one-on-one coaching, alumni mentoring, buddy programmes, workshops, workplace tours and recruitment events.
Students are also given academic support to help them succeed in their studies, and the personal support they need to feel welcome, safe and well.
“Supporting students is one of the things we do really well in New Zealand,” says Gina Robertson, Career Development Services Manager for the University of Waikato.
“It’s very important to us that students are supported to feel confident and well-prepared for the future.”
3. Gain work experience
Part-time jobs, paid internships, job shadowing and other workplace experiences can be a bridge between your studies and your future job.
“For international students, working part-time is a great way to mix with local people and learn the language and workplace culture,” says John Dorado, International Career Development Consultant for The University of Auckland.
“It can also help you to gain a network of contacts if you plan to apply for a visa to work in New Zealand for up to three years after you graduate.”
4. Get involved
Doing voluntary work and joining clubs on campus gives you practical skills for your CV, says Chris Bridgman.
“Be strategic when deciding where to volunteer,” he says.
“For example, we had one international business student who wanted to put what he’d learned into practice and gain experience in the New Zealand workplace. So he volunteered to help a not-for-profit group develop a business plan.”
University of Canterbury students can sign up to have a co-curricular record that notes the skills they have gained from activities outside their studies – which they can show to potential employers.
5. Become a global citizen
Being able to work well with people from many countries and cultures can help you get a job anywhere in the world.
“It’s really important for students to be able to mix with people from different backgrounds and gain an understanding of different cultures,” says John Dorado.
Gina Robertson says employers increasingly value international students’ own language, culture and network of contacts.