Staff Reporter –
International students keen on gaining employment in New Zealand should have their overseas qualifications assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), a young graduate has said.
Prasannan Thilakan, who obtained a Graduate Diploma in Operations and a graduate degree in Production Management from the Universal College of Learning (UCOL) said that recognition of qualifications by NZQA is the first step towards career success in this country.
NZQA assessed and certified engineering qualifications that he obtained in India, which he said meant that they are valued in New Zealand.
“Employers can see what they are in terms of NZQA,” he said.
Prasannan completed Mechanical Engineering in India and arrived in New Zealand to study Production Management while also gaining work experience overseas. He chose UCOL, which according to him “stood out for its practical learning, smaller class sizes and Palmerston North’s relatively low cost of living.”
“Students from India ask me about UCOL and I say that it provides practical, hands-on learning. You learn skills that help you in the real world.”
Before arriving in New Zealand, Prasannan emailed more than 30 companies based in Palmerston North and surrounding areas, offering to do paid or unpaid work. His efforts landed him an internship with interior joinery company Hansens for the first semester, as well as a part-time production operator role at farming hardware manufacturer Kiwitech International.
“I advise international students seeking admission to UCOL to do their research and find an internship. If possible, look not only for part-time work that pays well but also for internships that provide great opportunities after you finish your course.”
A highlight of the Graduate Diploma in Operations and Production Management for Prasannan was interning at integrated services company Spotless during the second semester.
“Through interning, I learnt how to fit in with the New Zealand office culture, how to appeal to people here and how to communicate effectively.”
He says his lecturers were very helpful, especially when it came to overcoming communication difficulties.
“When I first got here, I had a bit of trouble understanding the New Zealand accent, but the lecturers were able to explain things in ways I could understand. There are also Learning Advisors on campus who can help with your assignments, Prasannan said.
Soon after graduation, Kiwitech International made him a full-time job Production Engineer.
Six months later, he wanted to move on to a bigger company and was skilled enough to get a technical job at the Proliant Biologicals plant in Fielding.
Proliant Biologicals is an American biofirm that produces about half of the world’s bovine serum albumin (BSA), which is used in pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical research.
The Feilding plant in New Zealand was opened in February 2016 and has the capacity to process 1000-1500 tonnes of blood plasma with the ability to expand up to 3000 tons a year.
“There are plenty of opportunities to grow,” Prasannan said.