Not many university graduates get to launch their career in a city under daily transformation. Today, a new generation of talent is joining the central city workforce at a time when Christchurch is busy exploring its new identity and the opportunities that come with it.
“Coming into the workforce at a time when the city’s starting to come together is quite cool, and I suppose that’s influencing who I am today,” says Christchurch-based location data specialist Will Jones.
“For the last seven years, we haven’t really had the city there, so it’s pretty cool seeing it come together when I’m working in town and being a part of that.”
Jones joined local geospatial powerhouse Orbica at the start of 2018, a fresh graduate from the University of Canterbury’s postgraduate diploma in geographic information systems (GIS).
Orbica's office in Christchurch's funky Innovation Precinct is an archetypical tech company: open spaces, adjustable height desks, beans bags and coffee machines.
With neighbouring co-working spaces GreenHouse, Biz Dojo, EPIC and the Ministry of Awesome adding to the local tech ecosystem, Christchurch’s creative and connected tech sector is the place to be.
“There’s definitely quite a vibe going on in the Innovation Precinct,” Jones says. “There are lots of events every week - lots more going on than I can attend, if that gives you an idea.”
Other highlights of Christchurch’s packed events calendar include Techweek’18, which included the grand finale of the NZ Space Challenge while the non-profit Ministry of Awesome hold regular Coffee & Jam sessions, bringing together the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Canterbury Tech Cluster also run monthly events which bring together the best and brightest of the city's tech community.
Christchurch is also gearing up to host the 2018 Canterbury Tech Summit on September 12, the largest tech event of its kind in New Zealand bringing together entrepreneurs, industry leaders, innovators and investors to explore trends, opportunities and major shifts on the horizon.
Jones says working in Christchurch also offers the opportunity to connect and collaborate with the best and brightest of the city’s tech, business and geospatial community. Earlier this year he was part of a team of tech heavyweights who were named finalists in the inaugural NZ Space Challenge, presenting their augmented reality system as a solution to navigating the extreme environments of Antarctica and Outer Space to a packed audience as part of Techweek'18.
“I’m getting to know people in the industry, because last year I didn’t really know anyone and now I know quite a few people from different companies and universities,” Jones says.
The strong connections between Christchurch’s tertiary sector and its business community provided Jones with the opportunity to intern at Orbica during the final semester of his postgraduate diploma – an opportunity that led to an offer of fulltime employment.
For Jones and other graduates like him, the Christchurch’s ongoing growth has given him an opportunity to explore his future while staying in the city he loves.
Growing up in the south and east of Christchurch, Jones says his earliest memories are of exploring the city and region’s various playgrounds, including the Port Hills, Southern Alps and Pacific Ocean.
“I really like living here because outside of work I can go skiing and biking, play football or go surfing - all those good things. That’s the benefit Christchurch has for me.”