Whangarei migrants Vinkal Gaur and Astrid Kelly found volunteering helped them successfully find paid work, assisted by an employment program at Multicultural Whangarei.
International Northtec student Vinkal Guar came to New Zealand in 2017 to study a Bachelor Degree in Sport and Recreation. He wanted to build networks and connected with Multicultural Whangarei and Volunteering Northland through the Northtec International Student orientation. He also applied for advertised jobs but found the lack of response frustrating, plus he really wanted to work in the sports industry.
“I applied for jobs in the supermarket,” he says, “but I never heard back from anyone.”
As part of the Multicultural Whangarei employment program he volunteered to lead Yoga classes. This led to a referral to the Whangarei Aquatic Centre, which resulted in a few weeks working as a volunteer there until he was offered a paying job.
“I have learned a lot, and I continue to learn.” Gaur says of his six months working as a group fitness instructor. He says his job wasn’t advertised, and his hours have increased since he started work.
“This is the ideal job for me in my current situation” he says, “it is an amazing place to work… and it is very satisfying.”
Migrant Astrid Kelly had a similar experience after migrating to New Zealand from the Philippines to join her kiwi husband. By late 2016 she had a visa allowing work and through her own research into job searching she learned volunteering could help in finding paid work.
“Volunteering can give you exposure… it can be a stepping stone to work,” she says.
Like Gaur, she had no success in applying for advertised jobs but worked as a volunteer through a Multicultural Whangarei employment program and joining Volunteering Northland.
“My first volunteering in administration was for Plunket,” says Kelly. She was also a volunteer event photographer for Multicultural Whangarei.
She used these local work experiences and references when applying for paid work as her other references were from the Philippines. In 2017 she applied for a job suited to her skills at Literacy Whangarei, a vacancy she discovered through her Multicultural Whangarei network. She began work as a Literacy Whangarei administrator in May.
“Volunteering is good for foreigners to know how it works here in New Zealand,” Kelly says about work experience and the job application process.
Multicultural Whangarei Centre Manager Jessie Manney agrees. “Lots of New Zealand employers want local experience” she says. “And we have our own volunteer program here… I can give a reference when someone has volunteered for us.”
As well as gaining local work experience and references, Manney has found
volunteering helps migrants find work through developing networks which give them access to more opportunities. It also helps migrants get to know their community and to learn how things are done in New Zealand.
As a migrant herself Canadian Manney has experienced this and says there are a lot of small things to learn about a new country, “Here it is ‘A4’ and I never heard that before,” she says of standard A4 sized paper, “We call it ‘letter size’.”
She has observed that being a successful volunteer helps newcomers build confidence as well as providing opportunities to practice language skills in a work setting, all of which help with success in getting paid work.
- Cathy Robinson