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Thread: More than a bit discouraged

  1. #1
    KiwiHopeful's Avatar
    KiwiHopeful is offline God like figure
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    Default More than a bit discouraged

    As some of you here may recall, I'm a teacher by profession. I've been in education for more than 10 years and hold an advanced degree plus another 45 credits. I've been both a teacher and, for the past three years, an administrator. If you'll allow me to indulge in a little self-promotion, I have a CV that just about anyone with my length of service would be proud to call their own.

    Ive been here in Chch for a little over four months now. I was lucky enough to have been able to time my arrival to be here for hiring season. If you don't know (or haven't ever really thought about it) most openings in education are advertised during the last term of the school year. That's when the schools find out who's coming back and who isn't and what their needs will be for the coming school year.

    I've applied for every education job in the Chch area that my experience would make me qualified for, from long-term relief teacher to deputy principal. I've sent out over two dozen resumes and cover letters. After studying the websites, school reviews, decile ratings, and mission statements, each was crafted to highlight the skills I believed to be a match for the school and position to which I was applying.

    I have had exactly *zero* calls for interviews.

    If I go back two or three years to when I started the process that led me to where I am today, I can recall visits to the Teach NZ website. There I saw a special section devoted to the recruitment of overseas teachers. At the time, if I recall correctly, they were offering a one-time stipend of $2,000 to overseas trained teachers who took teaching positions in NZ--I see that they have doubled that to $4,000 now. The site features personal stories of teachers from around the globe, including the US, who extol the virtues of NZ and its schools.

    So, seeing that the welcome mat was out and that NZ would be a place I could apply my skills and make a difference, I decided I wanted to apply to come to NZ as a skilled migrant.

    As you all know, that process is demanding. I had to prove my qualifications and skills to the NZQA, the NZ Teachers' Council, and NZIS. I demonstrated that I had comparable degrees, extensive experience in a comparable labor market, and that my supervisors would vouch for my ability to teach--and that's not even half of what was involved in getting those invaluable blue stickers.

    In July the boys were getting restless at the AirNZ gate, running back and forth between the seats where we had set up base camp and the windows where they could see the planes. Evan, my older son, struck up a conversation with an older Kiwi who was sitting by the windows. We got to talking and, as fate would have it, he was a former teacher himself from Wellington. 'You'll have no trouble finding a job,' he told me. 'There's a teacher shortage and we really need more male teachers.' This only served to confirm what I had been told time and time again as I researched my move to the other side of the globe. It assuaged my fear of going to another country without a job because I had skills and experience that were in demand and, if I was going to go to NZ to be a teacher, there really was no other way to do it but to prove my commitment and go.

    After arriving, whenever I told anyone I was a teacher, I got the same response: 'You'll have no trouble finding a job,' they told me. 'There's a teacher shortage and we really need more male teachers.'

    So, here I am now, looking at dwindling job prospects in my chosen profession--the one to which I have devoted the past 14 years of my life.

    I've gotten advice from people, which has ranged from 'move to another city' to 'just bring your CVs to schools' to 'work as a casual relief teacher.' I accept the advice graciously, but as someone who has hired teachers, I know a few things about how schools work that most people don't. Schools are not like businesses--barring extraordinary circumstances, they don't have openings out of the blue, and they can't just make a place for you. Moving to Auckland or Wellington or out to remote places sounds like good advice, until you hear from other people who are in those very same places and in the exact same position you are.

    So I think I will end up either trying to find work as a casual relief teacher--which, to be honest, I don't have much hope for either, since because of the way the master agreement for teachers works, I will be the most expensive relief teacher on their list. Casual relief work isn't a steady source of income, either.

    The advice that I find most infuriating, though, is 'it isn't what you know, it's who you know.'

    There's a part of me that wants to run through the streets with a gas can and matches and burn this place to the ground, because if 'it isn't what you know, it's who you know' then why put immigrants through what was for us a year-long process of proving what we know? Why not just have one #$%*^& question on the immigration form: 'Who do you know?'

    The other side of me, the more logical and, well, sane side is left pondering the nature of NZ society. Is this a meritocracy? If I have proven my worth, my value as a human being, to be able to come here, why must I humble myself to take a job barely suitable for someone just starting out in the profession?

    The problem, though, is that 'humble' isn't the right word. It doesn't have anything to do with ego. If it came to it, I would put produce on the shelves at New World or sweep floors or do whatever I needed to do to feed my family. (Thankfully, it hasn't come to that.) I wouldn't feel that being a relief teacher was beneath me as much as I would wonder at the wastefulness of it all.

    That's the problem. That's my frustration. From what I've seen, that's the complaint many of the disgruntled migrants seem to have. We've been told, 'Come here! We need you!' and for whatever reason we've chosen to answer that call, packed up, moved to the other side of the world, spent thousands of dollars, endured bureaucracy like most of us have never before known, proven our worth ... and been told none of it matters.

    Believe me, I didn't think it would be easy. I knew I'd be adjusting to a new culture, a new lifestyle. I knew I'd be giving up a lot of material comforts. I new this wasn't America and I was glad of it!

    But to not be given a chance, a 'fair go'. To be told 'We only want the cream of the crop ... to work their way back up from the bottom.'

    It's a waste.

    At least I've learned some valuable lessons here in NZ. I'm not going to be made more cynical by this experience. In fact, when I go back to the US, the life I live will be very different from the one I left behind. I will do whatever I can to help any migrant or minority who I have the power to help.

    And, yes, it is when. I'm not giving up yet, but I think this has just been too much for me. If I got a job as a teacher tomorrow, I'd always carry with me the memory of this experience and the knowledge that I'd come here to find the same fundamental injustice that I thought I was leaving behind. If I don't find a job as a teacher, I don't think I could bear to throw away the all the work I've done to excel in my profession.

    I don't mean this to be a sob story or pity party. I don't want anyone to think I haven't enjoyed my time here--I have--or that I hate NZ or Kiwis--I don't. But I just keep coming back to the idea of the wastefulness of it all.
    Last edited by KiwiHopeful; 06-12-2007 at 11:09 AM.
    EOI Submitted: July 20, 2006
    EOI Selected: August 2, 2006
    ITA Received: October 12, 2006
    ITA Submitted: February 2, 2007
    Migrant Levy Paid & Visas Shipped: June 6, 2007
    Arrived in NZ: July 26th, 2007
    Leaving NZ: June 1st, 2008

  2. #2
    nolasmom's Avatar
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    Default They don't know what they're missing

    You've put it much more eloquently than I ever could, but I've had the same experience.

    For those who don't know me as KH does:
    Two bachelor degrees (Interior Design & Art History)
    Started my own design firm at age 26
    Owned two stores by age 30

    I've made over a dozen applications and have been called for two interviews, both positions waaay below my experience level. The first was with Ballantyne's for an entry level buyer position. Sharon Ballantyne was so condescending, it was all I could do not to walk out. The second was with a local chain furniture store for a visual merchandising position. The woman who interviewed me asked if I could get up on a ladder and change lightbulbs. Uh, yeah.

    I have a call back for a second interview with the furniture store and can only hope I get the position. If my husband and I ever have any hope of buying a house, I need to have a full-time job. But it's heartbreaking to have to work your way up from the bottom once you've had so much professional success.

    I feel for you, KH.
    Last edited by nolasmom; 06-12-2007 at 09:39 PM.

  3. #3
    ExPat is offline Member
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    When we visited New Zealand, my brother's friend had a brother living in NZ so we invited him to dinner during our visit to NZ.

    He had been a professional sales manager for a very large corporation in the US. He told us of his nice home with Lexus in the driveway and boat he owned in the USA. He told us of how he climbed up the corporate ladder to the senior position fairly quickly and received many accolades from his peers for his work in the industry.

    He gave up all of this because he married a Kiwi and she wanted to return to NZ for a while.

    He told us that it took him nearly THREE years to get a low level sales job in NZ and that it really only happened because he received help from a friend he made down there - essentially he "made it" because his friend "knew" someone and referred him to the job.

    In the three year period he was jobless, he started his own business to make ends meet. He was fairly successful and sold the business (i think it was in wellington) and he moved to Auckland after he got the sales position.

    I've periodically kept in contact with him and he still gripes about the lower quality of life he has down there compared to what he had in the US and his biggest gripe is that it's not what you know but who you know that makes all the difference in NZ when it comes to the job market.

    I've had a few people offer to assist me in getting a job down there if and when we decide to move down there and perhaps my ego is a little bit too big to think that I would *need* help getting a job down there with my qualifications but it looks like that might make all the difference.

    I don't suppose I could move down there and claim to be self-employed as an investor/stock trader and get by on that can I?

  4. #4
    Duke's Avatar
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    Holy Macaronis,,, thats alot of venting... I hope I can help a bit... it could be the area, maybe you will have to start out somewhere else before reaching ChCh... the well educated cab driver that had great reggae music informed me of starting in Invercargill, housing was cheap, jobs may be plentiful... but I have my heart set on Lyttelton Harbour, which I havent seen any employment advertised, but all the books state "not all jobs are advertised".
    JOBS
    Speaking of overseas advertisement...its funny...Ive seen the same Boilermaker/ welding jobs advertised for 3+years..yep the same exact job...like it was never filled. Ive been contacted by Crown recruitment and a union representative in Auckland.. very helpful...and pretty much what I get out of it may be considered a free for all...but you got to find it, so maybe knowing more people would help. I also invested $200 into Skillznz or alas 'Newjobz' and I felt confident w/ the investment,,, the communication was A-1... well,, sad news..... the site has disappeared from www.. Its a shame because we did visit thier office on our trip.. Im thinking if I go through with this experience, I will make sure I will be importing a diesel welding machine... sounds like in my opinion the work in nz is less demanding than the states.( the best job i saw in NZ was one man mending guardrails on the foothills in the middle of paradise,,, I envyed him)..plus he was working out of his van,,,which takes the place of the full size truck in america.
    TEACH
    I know in rural Ohio, it is the same in the teaching biz...(my mother in law is the president of her union, but is republican and loves GWBush...sorry I will not go any farther into that....sigh)...I lived and grew up in small town USA my whole life so far...and I know that unless you went to that school or involved yourself 99% into the community...your pretty much unheard of... maybe the same goes for NZ...the small towns were great,,, we got alot of thumbs up towards our Escape rental van (the smoking banana drinking a martini)...

    I hope the experiences turn for more positives..its Christmas.... go to the south pacific ocean and take a deep breath, pull up the green grass and smell it, take a ride on a bike up to Godley Pt.... go eat a kiwi burger, relax and keep the dream alive

  5. #5
    Dawn's Avatar
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    KH It's NZ's loss man

    Sometimes I feel Kiwi's are so unsophisticated as to be short-sighted as well. For a country of pioneering trailblazers I have certainly been surprised at their lack of initiative and fore-sight. I thought it was just Hamilton, it's so conservative.

    Take it easy KH. Don't leave, stay and prove 'em wrong, then set about re-educating the system, change it from inside. I know you're not afraid to stand up and be counted, make them listen and ring the changes
    Passionate about the unfathomableness opportunities of kiwi-a-gogo-land

  6. #6
    Taffy's Avatar
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    This is an interesting topic because I've seen the side of issue it seems no one else has seen - the Kiwi side.

    I attended a seminar put on by New Life New Zealand and the local (Hamilton) Business Development council. It was a seminar for employers, who were experiencing great difficulty in finding skilled workers for their businesses. Well, it could have been a class of 5 year old kids. No one had a clue about employing someone from overseas. It seemed to petrify them completely. No one understood visas, qualifications and all believed it would be a mammoth chore to employ a foreigner, or that they would have to train them from scratch, or they would get fed up or homesick within a few weeks and leave the job. I would even go so far to say that international experience is intimidating to some. So saying that it's who you know is probably 90% correct. Of course, not everyone needs to know someone to get a job, but many many people do. It doesnt have to be a friend, it could be someone you speak to in the park, someone who turns up at a party you're invited to - all manner of places. Understanding that word of mouth is by far and away THE most powerful tool in NZ is absolutely essential.

    KH, you and many other people like you know exactly what you are capable of. The sad truth is, Kiwis don't know, and by being foreign you make them uneasy. I've been here more that 3 years now, and I'm still not treated as a 'kiwi'. People talk to me differently, like they're not quite sure how to act. But, having said that, friendships I've developed with NZers have evolved in to an equality, where being comfortable around eachother is no longer an issue.

    One thing I would be 95% confident in saying is that if someone recommends you for a job, you'll get it. The attitude change is instant, because the recommendation establishes trust.

    NZ may have cities, but (and I'll probably be shot for this) I think a great many NZ'ers themselves are still small town people. Nervous of the unknown, cautious of the outside world. Trust is very important, and finding it is the biggest mission of all. It took me 6 months to find a job here, in the oh so skilled shortage IT industry. I too was told 'no problem for you to get a job, crying out for you there'. In the end, I got a job because someone I knew, knew someone who needed my skills and recommended me. Dawns partner Gary, got his job because Dawn was chatting to the hairdresser she went to see. Every opportunity NZ has ever presented to me was because I knew someone, somewhere.

    Finding employement is a part of Kiwi culture that no one realises exists. It IS part of the culture, and in some cases can be the biggest culture shock of all, because it was so unexpected.

    I wish you luck in finding a place you belong in Mr KH. If I had any advice for you, it would just be to tell everyone you meet all about you. Someone will know someone, thats for sure.
    Taffy

    The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.

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    kokopeli is offline God like figure
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taffy View Post
    If I had any advice for you, it would just be to tell everyone you meet all about you. Someone will know someone, thats for sure.
    KH, you know where we are man.... The coffee's always on and I've been practicing my love hearts for you!

    ps, I need a support crew for a race on 15th Dec if you're really desperate for work!

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    KiwiHopeful's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone.

    It's nice to have a supportive community of such understanding and *good* people.

    What I wrote has been cathartic for me, like having a good cry. (Not that I ever cry, mind you.) Now that I've said my piece, I feel peace.

    Coming to terms with the fact that I probably won't find a teaching job, and may not find a job that particularly suits my skills, has given me space to think about the other reasons I came here. I think my approach from this point forward is going to be looking at my time here as a sort of working vacation. As a type-A workaholic, it'll probably do my blood pressure some good.

    FWIW, I don't intend my experience to be a dire warning about the perils of coming to New Zealand. Even if I end up sweeping the floors at Pak 'n' Save, this has been a great experience for me. If I were 10 years younger, or 15 years older, this would be perfect. If I were an entrepreneurial type, or if I knew how to do something practical and useful, like swing a hammer or weld a guardrail , this would be perfect. It's just that my particular passion and my particular point in life isn't gonna work so well for me.

    And, like it said, it may just all fall into place next week. Who knows.

    Again, thanks everyone. You're the best.
    EOI Submitted: July 20, 2006
    EOI Selected: August 2, 2006
    ITA Received: October 12, 2006
    ITA Submitted: February 2, 2007
    Migrant Levy Paid & Visas Shipped: June 6, 2007
    Arrived in NZ: July 26th, 2007
    Leaving NZ: June 1st, 2008

  9. #9
    heidi is offline Member
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    KH such a sobering post. Thank you so much for the courage and the eloquence in writing it. I enjoy your posts and blogs especially because there are so few north americans writing. Your words/thoughts have been with me all day and has opened up all kinds of new paths of thought as we ponder our own possible return to nz.
    You've helped put some perspective on my rosy glasses I perpetually wear for all things kiwi.

    The last time we chucked our north american life and moved our family of five to nz, OH went back into teaching to make it happen. It was a disaster. We ended up in probably the worst school in the country, and the promised support he would've needed to make the position work never came through. I also got very sick and everything (house etc) else that could go wrong did. After six months we beat a hasty return to north america, deciding it was a 'working holiday' we'd had.

    Back in N.A. OH found much more suitable employment at many times the salary we would've ever had in nz (with full benefits etc). We bought the 'american dream' house and lived seven yrs of the 'lifestyle' (you can hear the 'but' here I hope) BUT....nz kept calling me back. Finally/recently I got so homesick and depressed with this north american lifestyle (and the prospect of another minus 40 winter) I actively found him another job in nz (at half his earning and no benefits)....I feel like we (or rather I, as its happened more often to me with previous attempts in nz) are in a continuous cycle of wanting to believe the kiwi promised dream and getting kicked in the teeth when we get there. But the lure is too hard to resist, I adore nz (foibles and all), its gets under my skin and seems impossible to wash off.

    Makes me wonder how many others out there tried their best to make it work, left, and never quite got over it.

    As a light-hearted aside: If you decide you want to move to canada I have a five bdrm/3 bth home on 2 acres with a pool only half an hour from a major city (only 15 mins to big box stores) and all for far less than a tiny unheatable shack in any nz town. But there aren't any pongas here, or Tuis, or soft warm rains, or sticky nz mud, or ..

    I hope it all falls into place for you where-ever you decide you want to be. There sure seem alot of postings on the ed gazette! But we know the underlying reasons for that. Maybe education isn't the thing, maybe your skills could be well used in another nz industry (i'm sure you've thought of it, just had to add two more cents!)

    Peace and best wishes! and keep blogging!

  10. #10
    KiwiHopeful's Avatar
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    Heidi, I know exactly what you mean.

    There is so, so, so much to adore about NZ. It's everything you hear, and more. I have no doubt my short time here has forever changed me, and Chch has set a high standard for wherever I may next find myself. And believe me ... the only thing I dread more than the 13 hour flight back to the US is the prospect of another New England winter (too cold) or a Midwest summer (too hot) because here it's just right. (I feel like Goldilocks )

    And man oh man do I dread the possibility of being sucked back into that American lifestyle ... work, consume, work, consume, work, consume ... die.

    But, who knows ... our adventure isn't over *yet* and may still work out for the better. I'm keeping that door open. We wanted adventure, after all, and that's what we're getting. No regrets.

    BTW, I *love* Canada (except for the weather). It was our visits to Montreal that opened my eyes to the possibility that another way of life might be worth exploring. I'll always carry with me the memory of walking through the Underground City a couple of days after Christmas and seeing a clerk in one of the menswear stores happily whistling as he folded sweaters. Sappy, I know, but it made me look around and realize the palpable difference in attitude of those around me. I was like 'Wow, you mean people *don't* have to be miserable all the time?'

    But there's the weather thing--if Paris is the City of Lights, Montreal is the City of Slush. I'll also never forget this kid I saw in full hip-hop regalia, big puffy white coat and white hat, hit a patch of ice on the sidewalk and do a pratfall in front of all his buddies. His attitude when he got up was priceless--trying not to laugh and be all tough and at the same time just p-o-ed about it all even though he did have to admit it was pretty funny.

    Alright, one more I-love-Canada story, again in Montreal: At the hotel desk, the American woman in front of me asked the Asian girl behind the counter, 'Do you speak English?' I'm thinking, 'God, please take me out of this line, or make me invisible, or just let the world end now because I don't want to have to be lumped in the same category as that jackass when I step up to the desk.'

    The girl behind the counter took it all in stride though. She smiled and said, 'Here in Montreal you'll find that most of us speak many languages.' Her class and grace made stop feeling ashamed to be an American and made me proud to be a human being.
    EOI Submitted: July 20, 2006
    EOI Selected: August 2, 2006
    ITA Received: October 12, 2006
    ITA Submitted: February 2, 2007
    Migrant Levy Paid & Visas Shipped: June 6, 2007
    Arrived in NZ: July 26th, 2007
    Leaving NZ: June 1st, 2008

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