Why new students need to manage their expectations

I can’t imagine what it would be like to study in a new country, especially if the language native to that country is different to my mother tongue. But further to that, I would have to adapt to all things new – culture, weather, geographical area, transportation, social interactions, teaching and learning methods, food, customs… the list goes on. Oh, and how can I forget about finding a job too.

Last week we had out latest student orientation and we had new students who had been in New Zealand ranging from several months to as little as one day! As with orientations of the past, you witness a myriad of emotions and reactions from the students; excitement, enthusiasm, tiredness, weariness, and a touch of nervousness.

Kia ora and welcome to all our new students.

Providing students with timely and appropriate information when they first arrive on campus is crucial and necessary. Many students aspire to find work they arrive in New Zealand, but they often seem unsure about how to go about it, or are naive about the process.

To allay these issues and concerns, my team hosted a panel discussion with three of our alumni, all of whom had been the same situation as our new students.

Our three Otago Polytechniic alumni panellists – Ravi, Anastasia and Mohit.

Here is a summary of their key messages:

  • Don’t rush things. When you first arrive, take the time to get your bearings – familiarise with the local area and make sure you know where to access important services and facilities including the library, banks etc. Education New Zealand also has a fantastic website called Nau Mai NZ where you can access information on living in NZ too.
  • Get your CV checked. Yes, a NZ-style CV will likely be different than your CV from back home. Use the resources made available to you on campus to review and refine this important document.
  • Research and understand the local job market. Be aware of how to access labour market information – websites such as Careers NZ and SEEK NZ provide useful starting points for familiarising with local industries and jobs.
  • Study comes first! You invested a large amount of money to study in NZ, so do not over-commit and overload yourself with multiple activities and jobs.
  • We understand that having a part-time job may be necessary for helping to pay for your expenses. If you are going to work, then choose a job that is straightforward and not too complicated. For example, many students choose roles in hospitality or retail as a starting point. You want to make sure you have the energy and time to complete your studies.
  • Student exploitation in the workplace is rife, so make sure you know your employment rights. The New Zealand Now website has great information on this. And no, you can’t work more than 20 hours a week (however, you can work up to 40 during study holiday breaks).
  • Consider volunteering as a way to gain experience, as well building your connections with local people. Discover volunteering opportunities through Volunteering Auckland and SEEK Volunteering.
  • Developing your connections is a great way to discover and uncover potential opportunities. It also allows you to learn about different jobs and industries. You can do this by joining groups, clubs and sports teams. Meetup is also a fantastic digital platform for joining interest groups around Auckland.
  • Be realistic! It is unlikely you will immediately transition into the same work/profession you did back home. Create small action steps and prioritise your studies first.
Being informed can help you to manage your expectations.
Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash

To all our new students – we wish you ALL the best and we encourage you to be informed and supported as you transition into life in New Zealand.

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