Our New Zealand Story: Episode 2:Bring home the Bacon

Right. So now you’ve heard a bit about Working Holiday Visas, a bit about our story, a bit about why NZ is one of the coolest places ever, and how students can navigate the minefield of student visa options and how to properly prepare your application.

Hurray we’re done! Not quite my young Padawan. We had about 10 grand between the two of us when we landed in March 2015. Armed with a WHV and a student visa we set off on our new adventure into panic.

Where are we going to stay?! how long will it take me to find a job?! Will we have enough money? Will we ever find a permanent accommodation? Will Mike ever get out of Jail? (Suits Reference)

6ac81c1f-3f4e-4e44-a34b-73dd666fcd19Calm down Bro-ham. Let’s tackle this one at a time.

Where to stay in NZ if you’re thinking of immigrating

So we had a myriad of options; Airbnb, hostelworld and couchsurfing  were your standard but we also came across another great site; bookabach which is a kiwi website that allows you to book entire holiday homes. Which to choose tho?

At the time we needed something secure, had wide reach and also allowed us to pivot out once we secured a more permanent accommodation. AirBnb presented us with these options so we went with that.

The place we found was called “Home away from home” a quaint little house with a big personality. Max and Jane were fantastic hosts and were very much into wood. Well Max was, and not like sexual wood but actual wood. Ok he’s into carpentry, stop riding me.

His house was filled with creative wooden tables, chairs and wood art. He made his own beer in the wood shed in his garden (his man cave) where he held guitar jam sessions with his mates. When night time came so did his fairy lights which lit up his entire garden area. He made his own compost, had a lemon tree and an adorable and incredibly loud 2 year old girl. It was a pretty sweet deal (except for the loud part – thank god for ear plugs).

The accommodation was already pretty cheap but we took advantage of the refer a friend initiative as well as a promotion AirBnb was having at a time for Canadians (I think it was 30% off your bookings) to make it even cheaper. Don’t judge me.

We gave ourselves 6 months to find something more permanent. My cash forecast indicated that if I didn’t have a job by that time and thus could not secure a permanent accommodation, we would be forced to leave the country. All eyes on me! AHHHH!


How long and how to find a job in New Zealand if you’re immigrating?

There are many ways to do this but recruiting agencies have always been a must for me. If you think about how many junk CVs (Resumes) companies get via their careers websites, recruiting websites etc. you can imagine how a glowing, well laid out CV like yours could get lost in the shuffle. Recruiters are direct, they work with you and they usually only work with a couple of candidates per job posting so your chances are higher.  It’s a good idea to work with a couple of recruiters to hedge your bets. Some might even be competing for the same job posting!

A good recruiting agency I found for the accounting inclined individuals was Consult Recruitment. They really were all sorts of refreshing, having a cool ass bicycle as a decoration as opposed to a tool for transportation is really what got me thinking, hey, these guys have what it takes to find me a really good job in New Zealand. Jokes aside they are pretty good.

img_20150309_130100After a couple of meetings to see what I wanted they provided a couple of options for me to choose from. One of them was what I wanted and the second (which they were pushing me on) was what they wanted me to fill. At the end of the day if you’re new to the country and you’ve been out of the industry for a bit you’re kind of at the mercy of the recruiters. I took the less appealing position as a reconciliation officer at the insurance company I currently work for. They helped me through some of my frustrations and the limitations of my WHV and eventually negotiated my pay raise when I was later promoted to a proper financial analyst after a year of suffering as a reconciliation officer. Since then I’ve moved up again to a more senior role helping to advise the company on customer retention programs and customer data best practices.

Career takeaways

  1. Expect to take a step back in your career. In my case, a lot of my friends had already become managers and directors in their respective careers. I had to start out at the bottom of the barrel coming to NZ
  2. Be ready to roll up your sleeves and “git er done” because there’s nothing worse than a lazy immigrant and you wont be given the same opportunities without kiwi experience
  3. Once you have obtained enough experience and clout within an organisation look to move up quickly. The fastest way to get back to where you used to be is to impress the crap out of your superiors and volunteer for any opportunity that arises. Never stay in one place for long or you’ll chisel your own career tombstone.
  4. Enthusiasm and work ethic is the key to being noticed. If you have great ideas, voice them if there is work no one wants to do, do it (as long as it furthers your career). The great thing about NZ is that they notice and promote people with passion and people that work hard.
  5. Help to improve things. Nothing impresses people more than successful process improvements. Utilise that education you have attained from another country to help kiwis make their lives easier and you will both be better off for it. Don’t be shy.

This one hits home for me as it was probably one of the most difficult things I had to do. There were moments when I thought I just couldn’t do it anymore and wanted to give up. Moments when I questioned my abilities. Moments when I questioned my resolve and who I was doing this for. Thank god for Nicole – she always put things in perspective for me and reminded me why and what I was trying to build.

Next post I’ll give you guys a bit of insight into the weird world of the rental market in New Zealand and how we practically had to worship the ground realtors stepped on to be given the opportunity (yes I said “given the opportunity”) to rent their property.  

Have any career advice or love for new immigrants? Comments below!


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