Taking off: An insider's guide to migrating to NZ
It's a big decision to leave behind friends and family to immigrate to a new country, whether it's just for a few years or with a view to settling permanently. New Zealand's IT industry welcomes many new migrants every year from all over the world. Our own Dhruti Desai, Resourcing Coordinator at Presto Resourcing Options (an Optimation Group company), is one of those who made the jump. She came to New Zealand from India via Singapore three years ago and here, she shares her experience and passes on some tips on getting settled to new migrants...
What is your background? Have you always worked in IT resourcing?
I studied IT as an undergraduate in Mumbai, and I went on to study Human Resources at postgraduate level. That led me into a career that combined my knowledge of both IT and HR. Back in Mumbai, I started in internal IT recruitment roles at i-Flex (now Oracle Financial Services Software) and L & T Infotech, the IT division of a global engineering company.
So what brought you to New Zealand?
I met my husband at i-Flex and we married in India. He was offered a new opportunity in IT in Singapore, so we moved to live there for three-and-a-half years. While we were living in Singapore, he was offered the opportunity to come to New Zealand. This really appealed to us. New Zealand is well known for its work-life balance, which is something you don't generally find in India and Asia more broadly. There, people tend to work long hours from Monday through Friday, and don't really have much social or leisure life during the week.
What was your initial experience of New Zealand? Did you find it hard to adjust?
We found the people very warm, helpful, and friendly, but it was a bit of a culture shock at first. Coming from these enormous 24-hour cities of Mumbai and Singapore, we were surprised to find things like shops and malls closing at 6pm. It helped that to begin with, we decided to rent an apartment and live in the middle of the city.
What advice do you have for others to help them settle in to the New Zealand environment and find work?
When we first arrived, I wasn't working. I needed to get out and look for a job and start to meet people. I joined the Les Mills gym near our apartment, which was a good way to start getting out and socialising. For job hunting, I found the recruitment networks on the Meetup website (https://www.meetup.com/) a good way to start connecting with people. It took me a little while to get to know how the coffee culture works here in Wellington, but I learned to use it myself and set up coffee chats with recruitment consultants and other people who could tell me more about the market and the working culture more generally. I also used Seek and LinkedIn to connect with people.
How did you find your first job?
Getting the first job is always difficult and that is something people need to be prepared for. By organising lots of coffee chats, attending meet-ups, and building my professional network, I developed a good understanding of the market, the gaps, and what employers were looking for. That was also an important way for people to get to know me and to see what I could offer. I secured my first role in agency recruitment with Randstad, and through that I got to know more about the people, culture, and working environment. The Randstad role was temporary, rather than permanent, but it gave me a great opportunity to build my confidence, experience, and networks and to start to explore a bit more about what I wanted to do.
And what brought you to work for Presto Resourcing Options?
I started thinking about going back to internal resourcing, which is where I had come from back in India. Initially, I took a contract here at Presto to provide maternity cover. I wasn't really looking for a contract role at that time but I decided to take it anyway as a first step. And as it turned out, the Presto business was growing very quickly and my contract role ended up being converted into a permanent position.
You live in Wellington. Was this always where you wanted to live or did you look at alternatives?
Initially, we weren't sure if we were going to stay in Wellington or move to Auckland, as my husband's company has offices in both locations. That's partly why we decided to rent an apartment when we first arrived, rather than looking for something to buy. We were able to find plenty of rental options on TradeMe. We also joined Facebook community groups and similar forums to get local information and make connections. After living here for three years, we knew this is where we really wanted to stay for the long term. So we recently bought a house in Lower Hutt.
How have you found it building social and cultural connections?
Making friends has not been that difficult. New Zealanders are generally friendly people, and my husband quickly got to know people through work. When we first came here, there were not that many people from India in Wellington but the community is growing. We keep an eye out on Facebook and other forums for Indian cultural festivals and other community activities. We also became involved in the Hindu temple in Kilbirnie and the Wellington Indian Association, so that helped us to meet people who share a common cultural background.
What advice would you give to others looking to migrate to New Zealand?
First, if you're in a situation like mine, where one partner is being sponsored to work here, you need to decide if the other partner wants to work here or not. If they do, then they need to make sure they have the skills and training to enable them to get a work visa. Also, do your research before you come to work out where to live, the best places to rent an apartment and so on, and to start to make connections before you arrive. Community groups on Facebook are very helpful for that, and once you are here Meetups are a great way to connect with people with a huge range of interests.
For more information on migrating to New Zealand, see https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/
People looking to work in New Zealand's IT and technology sector will generally fall into the 'skilled migrant' category for visa purposes. For more about skilled migrant status and what is needed to qualify, see https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/move-to-nz/new-zealand-visa/work-visa/skilled-migrant-visas