Before moving to New Zealand, Judy Zhu worked as an environmental engineer in Beijing.
Judy says her job was an ‘iron rice bowl’ job. “If you have a good job, you can eat from this bowl without risk of breaking it. The institute was state-owned, so the job was secure, a guarantee I could work there forever.”
With job stability, and a newborn son, Judy’s friends said she was crazy when she considered migrating and starting a new life for herself and her family. Nowadays, Judy works in Palmerston North as a recruitment officer at IPU New Zealand, in a job focused on attracting Chinese students.
Getting to this point wasn’t easy. “Every step has been a big challenge,” she says.
When she arrived in 2015, despite having learned English since middle school, Judy discovered her ‘book-focused’ learning didn’t translate to the real world. “I couldn’t understand a word people were saying, and I couldn’t communicate. I felt deaf and mute.
“We were living in a motel. There was a shared public kitchen, but I was afraid to go there in case I had to speak to people. Luckily, after a few months, I discovered English Language Partners.” She joined an English Language Group, and quickly began to feel less isolated and to see improvements in her language ability.
“Classes gave me a place to go each week where I felt welcome, so I was able to extend and branch out. I started to know more people, and to join activities. I felt more immersed, and like I was taking part.
“I came to experience a new life, not just stay in the house, so I pushed myself to go out and talk to others.”
Judy used her new-found courage to launch headlong into her community. She volunteered with the Manawatu Chinese Community Trust and Global Parents Support, tutoring Mandarin to young Chinese children. Through connections made at English Language Partners, she joined library book clubs.
Then she decided to study for a postgraduate diploma in international studies, and English Language Partners wrote a reference to help Judy gain a scholarship to IPU.
Judy’s studies helped develop a broader world perspective and with her connections to China, she realised there are a lot of openings in international recruitment.
“The problem was, I worried that my English wasn’t good enough, so I went back to English Language Partners and joined their Work Talk programme.”
Manager Jess Yap says “Judy was raring to go from day one, with a lovely inquisitive nature. She was hungry to know more about all things Kiwi and the work environment.” Judy says the course prepared students to go into the workplace, covering everything from writing CVs, finding job opportunities, to interviews and phone calls. “That was really helpful, I’ve always been scared on the phone!
“We also covered informal conversations in the workplace. I loved that.”
“Everything came in this great package. I recommend Work Talk, I think it’s very helpful.”
The confidence Judy got from the course helped gain her recruitment officer job, and she’s using her skills to become a valuable member of the IPU team.
“I’ve changed my field of interest. It’s part of my new life and career, so I’m happy to be able to try something new”.
Judy’s perseverance is key to her success, but she says participating locally and improving her English was also crucial. “English was the most important thing. But it’s not just the language, it’s the cultural aspects and joining in that makes me feel at home in my new Kiwi life.
“I really want to encourage others to take part in their community. They will find their life will be more colourful.”
Judy developed her skills on our Work Talk course
- 48-hour intensive course (flexible hours)
- Learn how to approach employers
- Learn to tailor your CV for specific job applications
- Prepare and practise for job interviews
- Develop your professional networking skills
- English level – Intermediate and above (confident users of English)
- Qualified teachers
- Small classes
- Fees may apply. Ask at your centre.
- In all centres (except Taupo, Marlborough, Auckland West, Porirua and Southland.)
For more about Work Talk, talk to your closest centre