First steps towards career development and employability

Take the first steps towards your future career success with this guide for international students.

You may be new to New Zealand, or your might have lived here for a while. Wherever you are in the process, congratulations – you have made a choice to take your career development and employability in your own hands.

The purpose of this guide is to give you an idea of what you can do to develop and what resources you can use to take first steps towards your future career success. Please note that this guide is not exhaustive and is only meant to introduce a few ideas to get you started.

What is career development?

Career development is the process of managing life, learning and work over your lifespan. Today, career incorporates everything we do in life – what we learn through university studies, extracurricular activities, voluntary and paid work, parenting, sports, and hobbies.

What is employability?

There are many different definitions of employability, but the key idea is that employability describes the capacity of an individual to always develop and enhance their skills to remain relevant and active in the job market.

Employability depends on the acquisition of knowledge, skills, competencies, and attitudes that make people successful and fulfilled in their careers. This is primarily your responsibility, so university studies are a good time to learn how to identify knowledge and skill gaps and fill these gaps in appropriate ways.

What can I do?

Please note that these are the first basic steps, over time you will need to plan a more tailored strategy.

1. Check your university email frequently and always read emails from CDES

We share important information with you about employer events, internships and job opportunities, and tailored programmes for international students via email. You don’t want to miss out on these opportunities!

2. Follow CDES on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn

We all spend quite a bit of time on Instagram, so why not keep informed about the career support we offer? Find us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Check out our website and familiarise yourself with the services we offer.

3. Find out which areas of employability and career development you need to focus on

Log into MyCDES+ (one of the two career platforms we use), click on MyCareer Check in the top navigation banner and take MyCareer Check. After you get your score, identify the areas you need to work on, and explore the advice you will get at the end of the assessment.

4. Familiarise yourself with MyCDES+

This is a great resource that you will hopefully love and use as much as we do. Over time you may receive specific advice from our career consultants around the modules they recommend for specific purposes. For now, make yourself comfortable and take your time browsing through different tabs and units. You may want to start with a few career assessments or explore career e-learning in MyCareer Advice. Notice what makes you curious and what is completely new to you.

5. Attend employer events, workshops and specialised programmes organised by CDES

When you start exploring career development and employability, the key challenge is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Not to worry – we’ve got you covered! Log into MyCDES (NOT the same as the previous platform you explored) and click on Events. As you are only starting your employability journey, attend as many workshops and events as you can – when you can. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

6. Explore resources that we’ve created for you on MyCDES

If you click on Resources in the top right-hand corner and then on Content Library, you will find many employability, career development and job search resources. Some of them are more general, whereas others are more specialised – see what you discover and start working through them.

7. Book an appointment with one of our consultants to discuss specific queries about career direction, employability, and job search

We offer in-person and Zoom appointments. Use MyCDES to book appointments. You can book an appointment based on your availability or select a specific consultant. Our dedicated International Career Development and Employability Consultant is Liudmyla Beraud. You can, however, book appointments with any of our consultants.

8. Get more confident using English in social and professional contexts

If English is not your first language, you may benefit from some help and practice in a safe context. Whether you want to improve your writing or informal speaking, check out English Language Enrichment, particularly their Let’s Talk language learning groups.

9. Explore student clubs and organisations

The experience that you gain through extracurricular activities and volunteering is highly regarded by New Zealand employers, so why not explore student clubs and the events they run? Log into the platform called Engage and explore Events and Organizations.

If you are a postgraduate student at the University of Auckland (PGDip, Master’s, PhD), make sure to connect with the Postgraduate Student Association.

If you are a PhD student, explore the support available to you through the School of Graduate Studies. Whether you want to learn more about academic careers or simply hang out with fellow PhD students, they're here for you.

10. Connect with the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

CIE offer a wide range of innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialisation programmes, such as the Velocity 100K Challenge and Summer Lab. They also have a maker space available to all university students and staff. Have a look at their website and give it a go!

11. Participate in our targeted career development and employability programmes

CDES regularly runs career programmes for international students and specialised career programmes linked to your area of study. As mentioned above, you will be informed about these opportunities via your university email – another reason to check it regularly!

12. Make sure that your LinkedIn page looks professional and memorable (or make sure that it exists in the first place)

When asked whether they have a LinkedIn page, most students we see answer “Yeah, but…”. If you feel you are in the same boat, please attend our LinkedIn workshop (register via MyCDES) and get it sorted.

13. Start exploring professional bodies in your area of study/industry

It is usually quite easy to find them. For instance, if you search for “engineering professional body NZ”, the first link that pops up is Engineering NZ, a professional body for all engineers. If you are studying Applied Linguistics, search for “applied linguistics professional body NZ”, and you will find ALANZ, an organisation for people with an interest in research into applied linguistics.

It is a great idea to become a student member of a professional body in your area. You will most likely be receiving a newsletter with helpful information and can over time start networking with professionals in your area.

These are just a few initial ideas you can start with.

For more support with your career development, employability and job search, please reach out to CDES.