Moving overseas to study is a big change – and finding your first job as an international student can be just as daunting. If you’re looking to land a part-time role while studying, it’s important to know what employers are looking for while understanding your rights. Here are my tips on how to approach finding your first job.
Depending on the type of role you’re after, there are a number of employment options. Being flexible is crucial to your success, so if you can’t find your dream job first time round, don’t give up.
One way to get a foot in the door of a competitive industry is to complete an internship with an employer who you’d like to work with. This can often lead to short term contracts, long term contracts and – if all goes well – permanent positions. At our Brisbane office, over 40% of our employees are international students, and a lot of them secured employment because they started working with us initially on short term engagements. By staying focused but flexible in your approach to securing work, you’re more likely to be successful.
The earlier you start on your professional working journey, the better positioned you will be when you finish your studies. Employers are looking for someone who stands out from the crowd. Unfortunately, international students do face some unique challenges that domestic students don’t. Whether it’s language skills, a lack of work experience or professional networks, you may feel like you have to work twice as hard in order to find employment. Forming connections with domestic students, signing up for work experience or attending networking sessions with potential employers are all ways to help you build your networks.
Employers love proactive candidates. Many years ago, when we first started Cohort Go, we conducted a focus group with international students. One of the attendees was so enthusiastic about our business that we ended up hiring her on a part-time basis. This led to us working with her when she moved back home to China after her studies.
If you’re not able to find work straight away, you can still be proactive in your job hunt by taking time to hone your skills in other areas. Employers aren’t looking for students who can just do the job – they’re also looking for well-rounded team members with the right attributes and the ability to fit into a team.
Know your rights
Once you’ve landed your first job, it’s important to let your employer know how many hours you’re able to work. As a full-time international student, you can work up to 20 hours per week while class is in session, or unlimited hours during holiday periods.
When it comes to your rights in the workplace, you are entitled to exactly the same protections in the workplace as Australian residents. If you find yourself concerned about the conditions of a job, be sure to ask someone you trust for their opinion. You can also look to bodies like the Fair Work Ombudsman, as well as your education provider for advice if something doesn’t seem right, or if you’re not sure where you stand.
Landing your first job in Australia is sure to be a big adventure – there’s a whole country filled with opportunities for international students looking for employment. To make the most of your time working and living here, it’s important to remain flexible during your search for work. Try new things, get out of your comfort zone and you never know where it will take you.
Mark Fletcher is CEO and co-founder of Cohort Go; a leading edtech company that connects the international education community. Recognised for growth and innovation, Cohort Go’s online platform offers a tailored experience for students, agents and educators by reducing costs and increasing choice and value. The Cohort Go global network includes over 2,000 education providers and agents and more than 100,000 students from over 180 countries.
This article was first published by Meld Magazine