Alumni Profile | Jonathan Li

27 June 2018

jonathan-li Jonathan Li, University of Auckland alumnus.

"It might sound a little odd that watching Shortland Street before exams can be a good study technique but soft skills, such as learning how to engage and communicate with others, are crucially as important as academic knowledge and ability. As an international student, learning facts is only one piece of the puzzle: you have to learn how to apply what you know through soft skills like cultural context. And you can get really creative when figuring out how to build context!

I moved here from Beijing when I was a teenager, so my life and education have straddled Chinese and New Zealand culture. As a University of Auckland alumnus, I’m passionate about helping current international students navigate their way through a new country, with a new culture, in a new language. When CDES approached me about volunteering for the Workplace Insights Programme, I was excited to give back. The programme pairs alumni with current international students, and over a month period we connect over coffee, bring the students to our workplaces and discuss challenges and opportunities that internationals face in the Kiwi workplace. At the end of the month, CDES hosts a big social get together with everyone involved. I think of CDES like a bridge, helping students move from student life to the working world. Programmes like Workplace Insights are especially important for international students, for whom getting across that bridge comes with extra challenges.

Since I graduated in 2012, I have worked for BNZ, where I am currently a Risk Analyst. As part of the Workplace Insights Programme this autumn, I spent time with two Chinese students who are also hoping to move into finance after they graduate. Since I have the benefit of hindsight now, I shared with them the things I did at university that have proved most valuable – and the things I wish I had done! Joining clubs, playing sport, and generally being social in a new context can be as important as learning technical skills or networking at recruiting events. Both students are well on their way to careers in the industry, and through our time, we set clear goals for the next 6-12 months that will help them on their way.

The Work Insight Programme is one of the best services CDES offers – connecting students with alumni a few years ahead of them who can relate to their experiences. As more former students get involved, the matches between students and alumni are even more targeted, making the connections extremely helpful and interesting. It’s a fantastic programme. To all international alumni working in the city: get involved!"

How to get involved

If you would like to volunteer for this exciting programme, register your interest at Want to lend a helping hand to an international student?.