For many international students, getting work experience is your first step into a career in Australia. But what does it take to get that first role?
Navigating the world of work in a new country doesn’t have to be daunting! We spoke to three international students at the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) who have successfully made their way into the regional Australian job market. They share with us insights and advice on how you can make the most of your time at university and gain work experience in regional Australia.
Get your foot in the door
Tu (right), an international student from Vietnam pursuing a Master of Information Technology at UniSQ, shares his journey of finding work in automation manufacturing in Toowoomba.
According to Tu, getting your foot in the door can sometimes be the hardest part, but the rewards of perseverance and adaptability are invaluable. A part-time role in an unrelated field can provide monetary support, giving you more time to look for the perfect role.
“To start, I took up a temporary job at a local bakery to alleviate financial pressure while searching for technology-related positions.”
Working at the bakery wasn’t just a way to pay the bills. It was a fantastic opportunity for Tu to hone various transferrable skills. These transferrable skills – from communication to currency management – are essential, especially for international students adapting to a new environment. It also showcases adaptability and resilience to potential employers.
“The journey has been both challenging and rewarding,” Tu shares. “Despite facing numerous hurdles…I remained patient and persevered in my search for a suitable opportunity.”
Take advantage of university resources
Most universities provide services to help you find work experience. From assistance with your job application to personalised career advice, your education provider will support you in your job search.
“The University of Southern Queensland provides so much support for international students,” he says. “Industry partnerships, networking events…mentorship programs and language support. These initiatives collectively empower international students to connect with regional employers, gain practical insights, and enhance their employability in the job market.”
Network and embrace opportunities
Anjali (right) is from India and is currently studying a Master of Business (Human Resource Leadership) at UniSQ. She is a big advocate for networking, not only to make professional connections but to build a community around you as you settle into a new country.
“Networking is very very important,” she says. “The more you speak to people, the more you get exposed to opportunities and chances.” Participating in university career events, engaging with local businesses and chatting to peers can open doors to opportunities you didn’t know were there.
Networking can help you establish meaningful connections and gain insight into the local work environment.
Adapt and work on your skills
Working in a different country brings with it a new set of opportunities to build on your skill set.
All three of our interviewees agreed that communication skills are important to thrive in an Australian workplace. “Strong English language proficiency is essential,” says Tu.
Md agrees. “Communication skills were highly valued, as effective interaction with colleagues, clients and stakeholders played a pivotal role in building relationships and contributing to a positive work environment.”
Anjali mentions that employers often look for a qualification when hiring, but also believes that “professionalism, time-management skills and adaptive behaviour” can help you make a great first impression in the workplace.
Be open-minded and resourceful
There’s not just one way to find work experience, and work experience is more than just having a job. Internships, volunteering, freelancing and networking are all ways to gain insights into your field of study and could lead to a future role.
It’s important to be resourceful and understand the many different ways you could step into your chosen industry.
Tu “utilised various job-seeking platforms such as Seek and Indeed to apply for relevant roles, and attended career fairs to interact with potential employees directly”. Anjali mentions that by chatting with her flatmate, she discovered “a Facebook page called Toowoomba Local Jobs”.
Md is putting in a lot of effort to gain work experience for his future career. He says, “I’m actively pursuing work experience through internships, networking events, university career services, part-time positions [and] freelancing”.
Finding work experience in regional Australia might take a bit of patience and time, but you are more than capable of taking on the challenge! Remember – you’ve already taken a brave leap by choosing to study in a new country.
Proactivity, networking, taking advantage of university resources and building up your skills can give you a great boost in the competitive job market. Your journey may be challenging at times, but with determination and resourcefulness, you can pave your way to a successful career in Australia.
If you want to learn more about studying and gaining work experience in regional Australia, you can chat to current UniSQ students today!