What being a migrant worker means to me – insight into how a software developer from Argentina found his first day at work in Auckland

What being a migrant worker means to me – insight into how a software developer from Argentina found his first day at work in Auckland

Our highly-skilled immigration system enables hundreds of professionals to move to NZ and join some of our most promising tech start-ups and leading businesses every year.

While the media often focuses on what companies and co-workers can do to support cultural diversity in the workplace, it rarely looks at the topic from a migrant worker’s point of view. What’s their most pressing concern when they first arrive in NZ from overseas?

I recently took a phone call from a software developer who moved to New Zealand from Argentina in June. Our conversation followed a similar path to many that I have had with tech workers who have relocated to Auckland for work. It centred on the issue of acknowledging and understanding differences in cultural perspective, but what stood out most to me (yet again) was they just wanted “to fit in”.

Here they tell their story:

“I arrived in New Zealand 5 months ago from Argentina and I have been in my role for 100 days.

Waking up on the first day of my new job I was so excited; I thought to myself how brave I was to have travelled such a long distance to come to the country of my dreams.

I had envisaged meeting ‘kiwi’ people and had been told that they would be very friendly and helpful.

Stepping into the office in Central Auckland I was greeted by the HR person who was from China and her English, like mine, was difficult to understand. Walking through the office with her, it became apparent that this was indeed a multi-cultural environment.  My colleagues were from India, the Philippines, England Ireland, Russia, Brazil and, at last, I found two ‘kiwi’ men sitting across from me.

One was very friendly and called out “Kia ora Bro” and the other introduced himself and asked “How are you going mate?”

What do they mean "Kia ora Bro"? Why does the other one ask me where I am going; I have only just arrived and I am not planning on going anywhere…. I am here to do my job aren’t I?

Joe who called me "Bro" said “Don’t freak out bro before long you will be hitting the ground running”. I know I have many skills but I am trying to work out HOW you can “Hit the ground running”.”

Moving to a new country to take up work often triggers many emotions - fear, doubt and excitement.

Understanding cultural differences and working effectively with colleagues from around the world can be challenging.

Reaching out to those around you will make it far easier to settle in than trying to do it alone.

How to adjust to a new job/working environment:

  • Seek support, encouragement and ask many questions: If you don’t understand something ask.
  • Avoid being self-critical: Reframe any negative situations and be able to laugh at yourself
  • Normalise it: Others have gone through this too.
  • Celebrate success: Make a note of your daily accomplishments and take time to reflect on how different they are from the week previously
  • Reach out to others around you: Ask for feedback from colleagues and managers

Migrant workers play a critical role in fuelling the growth of the local tech sector. With strong job creation across the sector and a huge shortage of skills available locally, more tech professionals will be joining the NZ workforce. There is a real opportunity for those migrants who have already gone through this process to help others who arrive to make moving to NZ a success.