Rahul BhardwajRahul is a great example of a student who chose to come to New Zealand with a long-term plan and had the drive and vision to make that plan a reality.

Rahul completed a one-year Graduate Diploma in ICT (Computer Networks) at UCOL in Palmerston North in 2017 and now works as an IT Assistant at Scots College in Wellington.

Why Manawatū?

Having graduated from Kuvempu University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Information & Technology, Rahul secured a job with IBM in India and looked set for life. Unlike some Indian employers, IBM cares about its employees, but even their western-style approach wasn’t enough to compensate for the two and a half hour commute each way that Rahul endured.

Rahul had done his schooling at an English school in India and his good IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score meant he had the option to study around the world. He rejected offers from the UK and Canada to study at UCOL’s Palmerston North campus in order to break into the IT industry in NZ.

Rahul was attracted to New Zealand initially by the promise of a better quality of life, but what he found in Palmerston North exceeded his expectations. Things Kiwis take for granted were amazing to Rahul. He laughs as he tells of arriving at his student accommodation and thinking that he hadn’t been left any drinking water. Expecting bottles, he asked for some to be delivered to his room and was told “just to turn on the tap”. Quality water, clean air and plenty of places to ride his mountain bike or walk in the countryside help Rahul to put up with the occasional misunderstandings that go with integrating into a new culture.

Getting Work Ready

Always thinking about his long-term plan, Rahul elected to live in supported accommodation when he arrived in New Zealand. Even though it would be cheaper (and more familiar) to share with Indian students already established in a shared house in Palmerston North, Rahul never looked back. Learning to mix and share with people from a range of backgrounds while he was studying better prepared him for the New Zealand workplace.

The faculty at UCOL demonstrated patience and commitment to each learner, which Rahul hadn’t experienced before. In India the competition was so intense that Rahul recalls his peers would always manage their interactions with staff by projecting confidence and certainty – even if they were struggling with the material. UCOL faculty also supported Rahul by running practice interviews to give him a taste of job-hunting New Zealand style.

Used to having to compete against 1000s of applications for positions in India, Rahul didn’t immediately realise the importance New Zealand employers placed on checking to see whether he would fit in the team. He was turned down for a job by failing to realise that a scheduled coffee break with the team that were hiring was actually part of his interview. Rahul had flown through all the testing and the formal interview, but his failure to really engage with the team at this afternoon tea chat cost him the job. He was happy that a final part of that interview process included this feedback as it gave him an opportunity to change the way he behaved at his next interview. His advice is to make sure you follow up even your unsuccessful interviews even if that is not encouraged at home. Rahul firmly believes in getting feedback, and lives by Baltasar Gracián’s saying “a wise man learns more from his enemies than a fool from his friends.” Employers have spent a lot of time considering your application and are usually happy to point out areas of your CV, cover letter or interview that you can improve.

Life in the Workplace

Just as he had found at UCOL, people are always keen to help. This a feature of the New Zealand workplace that he loves. Rahul was taken with the way managers in New Zealand would make the tea for staff or go out with the lunch order to support their team when working to meet deadlines. The way New Zealand bosses are keen for workers to have work-life balance or to take leave for illness and bereavement has also amazed him.

Rahul has used his experience to recommend changes in his New Zealand workplaces. For example, he was upset at the way a service station where he was working during his studies would waste food by overstocking the pie cabinet during the night or early morning, despite the availability of data that these pies were probably not going to be needed and would have to be thrown out. Rahul had studied operations and management and consumer behaviour and knew that the lack of pies would probably see a hungry customer opt for a less perishable product like a sandwich or cookie if no pies were available.

Rahul has committed to New Zealand and loves the way money is only one of the things that motivates the people around him. The way New Zealanders work to protect the environment or to extend a hand of welcome and support to people like himself makes him feel like he has made a great decision to live and work here after his study.

Top Tips for Job Seekers

“Make sure you show what type of person you are and put your hobbies and interests on your CV – employers here have more time to study applications and worry just as much about how you’ll mix with their current workers as they do about your qualifications and experience.”

Top Tips for Employers

“Understand that we may come from parts of the world that have a greater gap between rich and poor, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t got business skills or knowledge to share. India has changed hugely since the 1980s India featured in films like Lion and Slumdog Millionaire.”

Want to find out more?

Hear from other international students on their experience living and studying in Palmerston North.

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Manawatū Region

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Each year Palmerston North welcomes 3,000 international students to the region.

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Palmerston North has a diverse and vibrant population, with 130 cultures and 90 languages spoken.

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