16 September 2015 at 9:00 am
International students in Dunedin get connected
A lively event to bring together international students and potential employers in Dunedin’s business community was held on 4 September.
‘Get Connected’ was a networking evening to launch the Job Ready Programme, which prepares international students for the transition from study to work through improving their skills and confidence in approaching prospective employers.
Job Ready is a free, extracurricular programme designed for any tertiary international student studying in the Dunedin region. The aim of the programme is to give participants an in-depth understanding of working culture and expectations in New Zealand, and to help them develop skills that will aid them in New Zealand workplaces.
“For many International students in New Zealand, networking is a scary and foreign business practice,” says Job Ready Coordinator, Madison Stumbles. “We wanted to create a new cultural norm – for students and businesses – where networking isn’t scary and international students have the confidence to engage with businesses looking to utilise the skills they have to offer.”
The programme has been developed with the support of ENZ’s Regional Partnership Programme, Enterprise Dunedin, Otago Polytechnic, the University of Otago and the Otago Chamber of Commerce.
The event saw 15 international Job Ready ‘graduates’ engage with the potential employers in a positive and enriching atmosphere. The Minister of Immigration, Hon Michael Woodhouse, delivered the keynote speech and was joined by Education New Zealand’s Greg Scott and Enterprise Dunedin’s Export Education Coordinator, Sarah Gauthier and representatives of Dunedin’s international education providers.
A strong turnout at the event demonstrated the level of commitment to international education in the city, and the strong understanding among all attendees of the way in which the Job Ready Programme can support local businesses in globalising their operations by creating links to skilled, international talent.
Job Ready Graduate with PhD student and AD Instruments representative, Pramuk Perera.
About the programme
In the lead up to the event, a pilot group of 15 international students from Otago Polytechnic and the University of Otago underwent the six-week intensive Job Ready programme.
Confidence building was the main focus over the six weeks, with a strong emphasis placed on enabling the students to polish their professional networking skills. Several interactive seminars were facilitated by members of the Dunedin business and education community, with one popular session on ‘How to network’ led by Gallaway Cook Allan’s, Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Gorman.
At the end of the six-week programme, students were proactively arranging meetings to talk to professionals with business interests in their field of study, and two had successfully secured employment for the following year.
With more study ahead of them, the remainder of the students credited the Job Ready Programme with boosting their confidence in finding work in New Zealand after graduation.
“I got what I needed out of this programme – confidence, knowledge [and] a better network of potential employers,” said one participant.
“I would like to thank those who made this programme successful as it has given us a good insight into skills and abilities to work on, which are not usually taught in university,” stated another.
Feedback from business participants was also incredibly positive. “I overheard Roger Belton from Southern Clams commenting on how these students were so capable, and on how they could help their businesses grow into new markets,” said Sarah Gauthier, Export Education Coordinator. “He really enjoyed meeting the students and hearing how their international business skills and multiple language abilities would help his business grow into places like Thailand and Malaysia.”
Local Dunedin businesses represented at the event included ADInstruments, Southern Clams, PocketSmith, Mixbit, Myth, Firebrand, ANZ and Cook Wong Accountants. There was also international business representation from the Carraway Group, a Hong Kong-based financial services firm.
Job Ready Coordinator Madison Stumbles with Minister Woodhouse as they presented each student with their frame able Job Ready completion certificate, signed by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.
Planning for the next phase of the project is underway, with the next six-week programme being open to all international tertiary students in Dunedin and having an even stronger focus on engagement with local businesses.
“I am really looking forward to see what phase two can do for Dunedin’s international students,” said Sarah Gauthier. “Secondary school engagement will be a priority and Job Ready intends to utilise the support received in the first phase to develop comprehensive material that will be applicable to all businesses and international students in New Zealand.”
Think you’d like to do something similar in your region? Sarah, Madison, and the Job Ready Programme partners are only too happy to share their learnings and provide hints and tips from their experience.
Email Sarah in the first instance: firstname.lastname@example.org