Ludi is a Study Melbourne Ambassador. Study Melbourne has 22 international student and alumni ambassadors for 2018. During their time as ambassadors, they regularly share insights and experiences to help international students have a great experience while studying here in Victoria.

Some tips to help you on your job-seeking journey

By Ludi Zhao

Finding work in a new country can be challenging for international students. We may feel competent enough to work in our home country, but not confident or ready to find work in Australia. After going through the transition from being an international student to finding a job in Australia, here are some of my top tips and experience that might help you on your journey.

Professional networking

Professional networking is my top tip in job seeking. Finding jobs in Australia isn’t just about your academic achievements or previous work experience. It’s also your personal connections and professional network. Most job opportunities are first shared in internal networks before they are available on public channels. You may have a higher chance of being a successful candidate if the prospective employer knows you or someone within your network who has referred you prior to the job application process. But how can you build your professional network? My advice is to attend professional networking and development opportunities in your industry. From participating, you may receive information on future job opportunities and equally important, you’ll have a better insight into your selected industry. You might even meet your career mentor and gain valuable advice on your professional development.

International student networking session

Networking session at Study Melbourne International Student Leadership Forum, photo from Study Melbourne Facebook page

Volunteering, placement and internship

Work or volunteer experience is highly valued in Australia. While some international students might have adequate work experience overseas, the work culture or the roles and responsibilities might be different here. It’s important to enrich your local experience through internships, placements and volunteering experiences. When looking for the right role, I recommend longer durations, such as three months or longer, to ensure you have a good understanding of the role and responsibilities, the organisation’s culture and Australia’s work culture more broadly. Personally, working in a multicultural environment is new to me. However, using my two placements and a few volunteering opportunities, I practised how to communicate and collaborate with colleagues from all over the world. These experiences not only enhance my employability skills, but also build my confidence.

The Dinner Project

From volunteer to project manager, image supplied by the Welcome Dinner Project

Practise English

Your communication skills are key to every type of job you may find. While some international students may experience language barriers or have a lack of confidence in speaking English, my advice is to mingle with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds and communicate in English daily. In terms of building confidence, we should understand that everyone has his or her own accent (even native speakers do!), so there’s no need to feel embarrassed about our accent. It’s all about practice!

Participate in employability workshops and services

Employability workshops and services are an effective way to improve your job seeking skills. Study Melbourne offers a range of free workshops and services, such as workshops on interview skills and one-on-one resume checks at the Study Melbourne Student Centre. Most universities have a career development department and offer similar services. Additionally, some universities offer mentoring programs to match students with senior professionals in the industry. You may also like to seek professional career advice from your own professional network or from reputable organisations.

Know your rights and obligations

International students can work up to 40 hours per fortnight while they are studying, and can work full-time during semester breaks but before you undertake a job, check your visa requirements. A Tax File Number (TFN) is required in order to pay tax. As for your rights, everyone who works in Australia has the same rights and protections. You have a right to minimum wage and proper work conditions. If you or someone you know are underpaid, bullied at work or are concerned about your working conditions, you can seek legal advice from the Study Melbourne Student Centre and/or report this to the Fair Work Ombudsman. Learn more about your rights at work.

Where to find jobs

There are many job seeking websites such as Seek, but you can also find work and volunteer opportunities through your institution’s career website. It’s a good idea to set up an alert for jobs you are interested in so you can be notified if a new opportunity arises. LinkedIn is also recommended as a useful tool for job seeking and networking and it’s worth of your time and effort to develop your LinkedIn profile and connections. Another main source of job opportunities is referrals from your professional network as many job vacancies are disseminated through word of mouth, instead of advertising publicly. For part-time or casual work in certain industries, such as retail or hospitality, you can also visit the store or restaurant in person to hand in your resume.

Professional networking, Australian work experience, English proficiency and job seeking are important, in order to stand out among a group of competent candidates. As international students, we should continue to remind ourselves that we are capable individuals, and we can acquire these fundamental experiences, connections or skills through practise and persistence.