At the beginning of May 2016, I was invited to give a seminar for an event called CareerLAB that was run by Victoria University Careers and Employment (also known as the CareerHub or Vic Careers). The purpose of this event was to increase international students’ awareness regarding employability.

There were five speakers who were invited to give seminars for this event, a couple of them are students in their final year of study (including myself) and the others are VUW graduates who are now successful in their work fields. The topic of my seminar was the importance of experience, which was focused on part-time jobs and internships.

The reason that i chose to focus on this topic was because based on my personal experience, there’s often a stereotypicalway of thinking about the image of international students in the employer’s eyes which then narrows down their options for part-time experiences. Some of the reasons that contribute to this stereotype are the language barrier, previous work experiences, and race or nationality preferences from the employers. Although some of the points are not proven true, based on personal experience from my previous employers, aspects that international students are worrying about are supposed to be the reason for them to widen their search in different fields for part-time job opportunities.

In my seminar, I elaborated on narrowing down options based on the employee or what students might think of which jobs they are worthy for or not, only limit their chances on actually scoring a job and also prevent them from developing in many areas. One step to helping their chances with employers would be to go to lengths to improve their english. If they choose to only work with people who speak their native language or don’t get used to being a team member in a “new” community (people who are not from the students’ country) this might cause them to struggle with socialising, making friends and being a team member when they’re working in full-time jobs in New Zealand.

I started the seminar by talking about my first part-time job, when I was a crew member at McDonalds. when I was talking about this experience I could see many students relate to the story, whether they were in the same position as me when they started or because they are currently experiencing a similar scenario. I then continued to explain that although the job at McDonalds was not the most ideal job for me, it was a great place to start, at the time I didn’t have as much confidence speaking English, compared with how I am today.

Also, working for a big company gives you the clarity of what a part-time job entails, this includes understanding the contracts, your job description, work ethics, and much more. I was fortunate enough to receive trainings which were very useful and relevant to when I eventually moved to another job. Since my first job, I have now had approximately 8 other jobs including as a barista, waitress and a bartender in cafes, bars, and restaurants around Wellington, managers for volunteers, assistant back stage manager for Wellington Fashion Week and an intern for Victoria Careers and Employment.

Whilst talking about these jobs I had throughout my time here in Wellington, I pointed out skills that I have received from my previous jobs and how they all accumulated and helped to serve as a selling point for my next job. Although jobs that I had in the beginning had nothing in common with subjects that I’m studying at university, the real life knowledge and responsibilities of being employed on the other hand are much more useful in the way I manage my time between work and study, and my perspective towards jobs, especially in Wellington.Overall, I am really glad that I can share my knowledge, tips, and experiences to international students, whether they are in the same position as me, or they just started their work experience.

As an international students I encourage my fellow international friends to increase their employability skills in as many ways as they can, whether it be by attending more seminars regarding employability or by getting real life experience with part-time jobs. Victoria University of Wellington has many resources to help students to achieve their goals, such as Victoria Careers and Employment. It is the job of the students to use them well. In order to move past the stereotype we need to increase our abilities, gain connections, take our chances and start somewhere. It requires actions, actions and more actions.

Written by Vallensia

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