Ernest Sulivan believes if you work hard and are willing to learn, you can succeed at your goals.
He heard about IPU New Zealand from a friend at his church in Indonesia. They said IPU had small class sizes and many international students. He researched the culture and education in New Zealand and thought that it looked great. Ernest has been here for five years and has found people here very friendly. He is happy to stay because of the easier pace of life and great lifestyle. He says there are parks everywhere which are great for outdoor activities.
He loves how journeys within Palmerston North are often less than 10 minutes and says the short commute times make it possible to achieve work life balance.
Getting Work Ready
In Indonesia it is not common to work while you study, which meant Ernest had not had to find work before coming to New Zealand.
Ernest started job hunting early in his studies. He didn’t want to leave it to the last minute. One of the papers in Ernest’s course was on English in the Professional World, which helped him prepare and improve his CV and interview skills. He did a lot of research on the available job agencies and websites, including Student Job Search, TradeMe, and Seek. He tried knocking on doors to see if there were any vacant positions and asked friends if they knew of any job opportunities.
When Student Job Search came to do a presentation at the IPU campus, it opened his eyes to what job opportunities were available. However, he kept looking. “You have to go over and beyond to be above average,” Ernest says.
Ernest found out about the job at First Commercials through word of mouth. He says sometimes your network can help you advance your career.
Life in the Workplace
Ernest describes his employer as amazing and very welcoming. He remembers that on his first day they introduced him to all the staff and invited him out for lunch.
It took him a while to get used to how businesses operate in New Zealand. For example, he has had to get used to how employees and managers greet each other with first names. It’s much more personal. He has found his colleagues’ understanding of cultural differences has helped him to feel part of the team, along with the awesome staff activities they do twice a year.
Although the Kiwi accent was a challenge at first, Ernest found that things got better as time went on, and his managers and colleagues have been very helpful and understanding. They know that English is not his first language and sometimes explain things for him. Ernest found that having the right attitude meant that they were more than happy to support his journey in learning English.
Ernest really appreciates his manager’s flexibility in accommodating leave for his study, and that he was given leave to go home and visit his family for Christmas.
Top Tips for Job Seekers
“Work hard and make sure you put in the effort. Try to constantly better yourself. Going the extra mile does make a difference.”
“Do everything with your very best in every situation. It’s like sowing seeds, some fall along the path and die, yet others fall on good soil and grow exponentially. You never know what and when opportunities might come up for you, so the best you can do is prepare yourself so that when the time comes, you’re already ahead of everybody else.”
“If we do a great job to the best of our ability, I can’t see why we won’t be in a good place one day. It may take some time, but we’ll surely get there.”
Top Tips for Employers
“Give international students a chance. Sure, things might not work out after you assess the performance of graduates – but if you never give them a chance, how would you know it wouldn’t work out?”
Facts & Figures
Each year Palmerston North welcomes 3,000 international students to the region.
Population Born Outside Palmerston North
Palmerston North has a diverse and vibrant population, with 130 cultures and 90 languages spoken.
Average Weekly Rent
Parks & Reserves
Cafes & Restaurants
Nodero develop software for larger companies. They are based in Palmerston North, and Mark Easton, Managing Director, describes a point of difference as being able to work face to face with their clients in the Manawatū region. At the time we interviewed Mark for this profile, the company had four staff who were either international graduates, or had migrated to New Zealand.
Mark has developed a close association with tertiary providers in the Manawatū, including UCOL and Massey University. Nodero has offered internships to a number of students – both New Zealand born and international. The company has decided to offer internships partly as a way of giving back something to their industry and community, and because it’s a good way to meet potential staff.
Mark gave an example of one international student who applied for an internship with Nodero when she was studying at UCOL. Nodero offered her an internship, and she spent six months working with the company doing a variety of maintenance projects and support for various client projects. Mark explained that they selected tasks carefully for their intern, and allowed her time to complete tutorials and other upskilling to ensure she was able to contribute fully to the projects. They also made sure that they had good processes in place to review her work, to ensure that what went out to clients met company standards.
After the internship was completed, Nodero offered a junior developer position to the intern. She took it and worked successfully at the company for 18 months before moving on for her own personal reasons. Mark explained that the internship ‘gave us a good opportunity to gauge how she was going to be, and so we knew we wanted to offer her the job’.
Mark advises employers to make sure you are offering internships for the right reasons. He explained that you have to be prepared to support your intern and give them the right sort of work to help them develop. You can’t give them the same level of responsibility that you would give a permanent employee.
Mark also offered these suggestions to employers:
- “Make sure you understand what you’re looking for in an employee before interviewing interns. You need to find people who will potentially develop into what you need them to be.”
- “Make sure all the employment agreements are in their legal name – the same name that they have on their passport.” Mark described a time when there were issues with getting a visa for one of their international graduate staff, because the name used on the employment agreement didn’t match the passport. “It was easy to fix, but it was a something we could have avoided.”
- “We work hard to make sure all of our staff feel part of our company. Do the stuff quiz together, have an international lunch where everyone brings something from a different country, celebrate events by going out for lunch together.” Mark talked about how some international students feel isolated, and doing activities like these and helping them outside of work (e.g. lending tools) can help them feel part of the team.
- Finally, Mark offers this advice for other employers: “We’ve noticed we’re not communicating our requirements clearly sometimes. Encourage people to ask questions, and be prepared to sit with them and talk through how to tackle a challenge.”
For International Students
Mark has great advice for international students too. He says:
- “Work on your English language communication. Go to Toastmasters, go out of your way to mix with groups of kiwis and speak English with them. The more comfortable you feel with Kiwis, the more comfortable they will feel with you.”
- “Take the opportunities to demonstrate your enthusiasm for your craft. Software developers can get involved in open source development, or volunteer to help with IT for community organisations.” Mark explained that as an employer Nodero looks for people who really want to work with them, and someone who has done these kinds of activities will stand out compared to others who have not.
- Mark talked about how important it is for international interns to ask questions. He’d advise you to ask if you are not sure about an instruction, ask if you don’t understand something, and ask for help when you need it.
- And finally, Mark would encourage you to fully engage with company activities. “Join in with the quiz, bring your best dish to the shared lunch, join in when we’re celebrating events – this will help you to feel more connected.”