Tejas is a Study Melbourne Ambassador. Study Melbourne has 15 international student and alumni ambassadors for 2019. During their time as ambassadors, they regularly share insights and experiences to help international students have a great experience while studying here in Victoria.
1. Networking strategy
Networking is broadly classified into e-networking and one-to-one networking. In both cases, every student needs to have a strategy for being successful as an industry professional. It can be defined as an informal way of sharing information and ideas between people of common interest.
Some keys things to remember for having a good strategy are:
- Connect with your industry with a personalised greeting on LinkedIn.
- Have a story to share, helping to establish mutual interests.
- Talk about your projects and skills first.
- Translate your academic experience into professional and the way you can implement it to your daily work.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about international experience, but be very concise.
- Have an elevator pitch.
- Do not state, “I am an international student…” until asked; instead express, “I am a passionate ____ professional, and currently studying ____ at _______ …”
2. Self branding/packaging
This is one of the most important skills to possess, as it is rightly said: “The first impression is the last (crucial) impression”. A few keys things to remember here are:
- Recognising your skills – study or industry.
- Refer to similar industry professionals and LinkedIn profiles.
- Prepare yourself as a professional than a student (as both professionals and students live the same learning journey in different settings).
- Have a personalised email signature.
- Do not underestimate yourself.
3. Self reflection
This is an important skill to keep yourself grounded and understand what is going wrong. Is there scope for improvement?
- Seek feedback from peer advisors at university, professors and course coordinators.
- Discuss the strategy with your mentor.
- Be receptive towards rejections.
- Have an open mind for critical analysis.
4. Patience and persistence
Sometimes employers will take time to respond to understand how patient and persistent you are.
- Follow-up with every individual after a networking event.
- Do not loose hope nor feel nervous and stop applying for jobs.
- It is not about how many networking events you attend, but about how you networked. How was your follow-up? How persistence and patient can you be?
- From my experience, I had to once wait for 3 and a half months to have a coffee meetup; sometimes that is the level of persistence that is required.
5. Never say no
Always be ready to accept new roles and new challenges which will inspire and help you build new skills and discover your limits.
- Be connected to your course coordinators, student organisations.
- Research about industry-specific events and attend them than thinking.
- Be competitive, because if you are not then someone else definitely is.
- Ask for help when needed.
6. Being passionate and responsive
Things to remember:
- Be prompt while responding, however, give it adequate time.
- Believe that you are the best, while always keeping an open mind for improvisation.
- Show the best you’ve got.
- Demonstrate your enthusiasm through your actions.
- Understand the relevance of the surrounding.
- Do not oversell yourself.
7. Being optimistic
There will be instances when you will feel demotivated, stressed, or even clueless; but this is the time to being optimistic and overcoming all the negative thoughts or outcomes. Being optimistic about yourself helps you build your confidence in achieving the ultimate goal.
8. Being flexible and adaptable
When you apply for a job or meet an industry person, it is important to showcase your flexibility to work in different environments. The best case is to tell a story about how adaptable you have been in different roles. This demonstrates that you are ready for challenges and can work in a changing workplace environment.
A few common mistakes/assumptions by most international students are:
- "My visa restrictions will not fetch me a job"
I received my full-time industry job (short term contract) on my bridging visa.
- Assumptions from the experience of a friend
Every student's journey is different and hence it is important to live your own journey on your own experiences and instincts.
- Lack of market/industry research
When you go to meet an industry personal make sure you have done your research about his/her organisation, his/her personal interest, and rehearsed your experience with keywords.
- Exhaust yourself in casual work
We as students need to understand, our first priority is to earn the skills and professional development and not money.
- Only Absorbing and No Actions / Scared of Rejections
Lastly, as much as it is important to absorb and learn; it is equally important to implement the learnings into actions. Do not be scared of rejections, they are the best lessons for life and will give you a much broader learning experience.