Aiding transition to work

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Finishing study and entering the workforce in New Zealand can be a challenging and intimidating process for foreign students.
The Work Ready Programme for International Students aims to make that transition easier with a series of workshops, seminars and events.
Work Ready co-ordinator Melissa Fuller said 38 foreign students, from a range of backgrounds, were taking part in the two-month programme, which comprised 12 different events.
‘‘The goal is to take them through a learning journey from learning about who you are and what your brand is, right through to learning how to network and be interviewed for jobs.’’
Two of the events encouraged local employers to participate, which gave them a chance to share their knowledge as well as see what the students had to offer, she said.
‘‘We have a student who is a 3-D animator and has travelled the world — he has quite a unique skill set.
‘‘Another is very into international business and understands far more than a lot of graduates straight out of university.
‘‘They’re learning more about the personality of the process.
‘‘Dunedin is very unique and it’s important to be able to sell yourself. It’s also about teaching them how to level the playing field with Kiwis, because Kiwis always get the job first; that’s just how it is. They are up against big barriers.’’
The feedback she received from employers was that it was a valuable opportunity to be able to learn about these students’ journeys and skill sets.
Other seminars and workshops involved learning about the typical Kiwi workspace, creating a personal brand, the expectations and rights of employees in New Zealand, networking and interviewing effectively.
This reporter took part in a speed interview night as an interviewer. Groups of interviewers were placed around the room with different questions and were asked to rate each participant’s responses.
It was great to see the way the students grew in confidence as they moved around the room, and I was amazed by some of their fascinating backgrounds.
There were some who came from cultures where men and women are not seen as equal and learning that men could shake hands with women in New Zealand was a completely foreign concept to them.
For most, English was not their first language — being able to spend an evening practising how to communicate their responses in an interview was a valuable exercise.
Mrs Fuller said this was the second year the programme had run and she hoped it would be possible to run two next year, one at the beginning of the year and one at the end, as students graduated at different times.