Siosi'ana's Story

Siosi’ana is a recently graduated Tongan secondary maths teacher who is working in a full-time, permanent role at an Auckland high school. She worked with Gillian from Education Personnel on the JobFind Assistance Programme. Siosia’ana has shared her story to finding teaching work here.

“I first wanted to be a maths teacher when I was in year eleven, back in Tonga. Having maths as my strength area and seeing the passion my year 11 maths teacher demonstrated towards his job, I was amazed by it and I wanted to help students like he did. When I came to New Zealand and had the chance to go to university, I was sure I wanted to pursue my career in studying to be a maths teacher.

I finished my graduate diploma in late 2010. I remember my classmates had been really worried about finding a job and were rushing to send out their CVs. I never worried about getting a job as I was more focused on completing the programme, which was really full on.

After finishing my degree I went to a family event to Australia where there I met the principal of my old school. She talked about how she wished for more qualified teachers in the school. At this time I had started writing my CV but wasn’t applying for jobs yet. My parents advised me to go, however I didn’t want to go back to the Islands just yet and started looking for jobs in New Zealand. I realised this would be harder than I thought as this was my first time experiencing the process of searching and applying for a job. All I got back from almost one month of applying for jobs were rejection emails. I felt that this was my calling to go and teach at my old school.

Teaching in Tonga was a great privilege and good experience but the work environment was very different from New Zealand. It was hard because I was a beginning teacher yet I was expected to teach under less supervision and most times by myself, when I really needed guidance and mentoring from an experience teacher similar to what I received when I was still training. I spent one year there and came back to NZ in January 2012.

I was starting to get concerned about where I would work for the year. I needed help to get into the workforce, so I tried several different careers services. I found Education Personnel’s website on the internet and was put in touch with Gillian, who worked with me as part of the Job Find Assistance programme.

Gillian helped me put together a teaching CV that would meet the demands of schools, rather than a ‘traditional’ CV. We would go over my CV on our phone chats and I would go and make the changes and send it back, until finally we had a really decent CV – one that we thought would make more of an impression with principals. She was really supportive – she was always there for me via phone and email. I’m so thankful that working with Gillian not only helped me with my job seeking, but also helped me to regain confidence in my own ability and to recognise my strengths again and focus on what I had to offer schools.

I started by relieving; I relieved in my old NZ high school and not too long from there I found a fixed long-term relief contract as a maths teacher at an Auckland school. I saw the advertisement on a Wednesday and found out it closed on the Friday! I really wanted the role as it had a lot of the features of my ‘ideal school’. With Gillian’s help we put in an application and even though I had little time to prepare I won an interview, and then the role. I was in the right place at the right time. At the end of 2012 I applied for a permanent position at the same school and won it. I really enjoy working at my current school. Everyone is very supportive and friendly, both staff and students, and the atmosphere is very accepting.

My advice to new graduate teachers looking for work is work hard on your CV, make it the best it can possibly be and don’t give up. Opportunities are everywhere; it’s just a matter of believing in yourself, looking really hard and being at the right place and the right time."

Also read about Job seeking for Māori and Pasifika

Job Seeking for Graduates

Applying for a Position

The Interview
Other Pathways

New Zealand Teachers Council New Zealand Education Gazette New Zealand Qualifications Authority Immigration New Zealand