Disclaimer: I am an American citizen under the age of 30, so my advice will reflect my experience specifically for New Zealand. If you have read my other blog post (I’ve Never been…) you know that I prior to applying for my visa, I was already “prepared” to leave the country. I also applied for the visa during a slow period time.
I found out about the visa the first week of March. Applied March 14th . Received an approval email March 19th and Landed in Auckland April 23rd. By no means do you have to do everything as hastily as I did. Once you are granted the visa you have one year to enter the New Zealand. Your visa doesn’t start until you actually arrive to New Zealand. This is great for those of you who want to plan and research a bit more before arrival.
I probably could have done with some more planning time, but at the time my mentality was “Now or Never”. I’m not sure where exactly I had a gap in logic, but somehow, I arrived in New Zealand a day early. My Homestay didn’t start until the next day. Luckily for me, the airport had 30 minutes of free wifi and I was able to book a hostel for the night. Not a travel horror story (those are for another time), but an avoidable dilemma.
My plan was to hit the ground running in New Zealand. The visa process was so quick, I assumed that the getting settled part would be just as easy. I’d have a job within two weeks. I’m hilarious, I know.
So before you can apply for jobs, you need to have an IRD number which is the NZ tax identification number similar to a Social Security number in the US. Before you can get an IRD number, you must have a NZ Bank Account. In order for you to get a NZ bank account, you must have proof of address.
Luckily, my Homestay hostess was used to Working Holiday Visa holders and she took me to the bank one day to show her ID and I was able to open a bank account using her address. After that I applied online for an IRD. All of this took about a week, which is really quite quick when you think about it… just not as quick as I had planned for.
Then I began the job hunt. My plan was to get hired at a staffing agency so that they would do the leg work for me. No need to stress myself out looking for jobs all over town. Man, oh man. Prior to coming to New Zealand, I had spent my entire adult career with the same company. I took for granted the network and reputation that I had established. With all of my work experience being in the USA, many companies didn’t want to check my references (and I had some great references).
Understandably, a lot of agencies emphasized NZ experience and being fresh off the plane, I didn’t have any. Unwilling to give up, I interviewed more agressively than I did even during post grad. I went on a lot of interviews and ultimately was placed about a month after I arrived.
And so began my year abroad.