Coming from all corners of the world, every international student has their own backstory and motivation for moving to and studying in Australia. For Robert Jacobs, the catalyst for his first move to ‘the land Down Under’ was the 2008 financial crisis. In the wake of this global economic event, Robert decided to pack up his life in the United Kingdom (UK) to travel the world, eventually landing a job in Perth. Although he later continued his working holiday in East Asia, he would return to the charming city years later to embark on an exciting educational journey.
Robert shares how he carved his own path from working nomad to programming student to radio show host. He also offers valuable insight into how international students in Australia can set themselves up for success, even in the face of adverse or uncertain circumstances.
Feeling at home in Perth, Western Australia
While living and working in Perth, Robert was taken aback at how prosperous a career he could have in a country like Australia.
“I was surprised to find that, by moving to a new place, I was able to triple my income,” he shares.
He eventually continued his working holiday in Taiwan, living there for five years to teach English. While there, Robert realised that he wanted to explore a new career path. Given his passion for IT, security and computers, his wife suggested cybersecurity. When the time came to decide where he wanted to study, Perth was his city of choice.
“It was the place I got mentally healthy, met my wife and where I grew as a person,” he says. “I feel more at home here in the city than any other place in the world. That’s why I wanted to come back and study here as well.”
Entering the software programming field
Rather than choosing cybersecurity, Robert decided to pursue a software programming degree because he loves problem-solving.
“I felt that programming would have a lot of uses outside of school or work as well. Even if I were unable to find work in IT, I could use the skills for something personal,” he shares.
Studying Software Development with TAFE International Western Australia in Perth
While 2020 was an unusual year for most people, Robert felt he was in a unique position as an international student in Australia. Many people had to abandon their goals and head home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Robert got to remain in Australia.
To earn money, he worked as a security guard at the Fremantle Sailing Club while studying his IT course. When it came to transitioning from on-campus to online learning, he felt that the shift was well-executed.
“Although I will always prefer to study in a classroom, I was super thankful to TAFE for making everything happen even during COVID.”
Robert also highlights that he had a wonderful experience learning his first few programming languages at TAFE.
“I had zero experience with programming beforehand but still felt I was able to keep pace. I felt that everything I was learning I could use in my own projects at home to create some pretty neat games and applications for my own use.”
In terms of furthering his education, Robert has no plans to slow down anytime soon. He has completed the ICT30118 Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology, the ICT40518 Certificate IV in Programming and is now looking forward to doing the ICT50718 Diploma of Software Development in February 2021. Although he knows it may be another intense six-month course, he shares that he is confident he will succeed, particularly with the help of his teachers and TAFE International Western Australia.
Starting the Stacked Over Show
Over the course of his studies, Robert’s life outside the classroom took a pleasant but unexpected turn. After a friend connected him to the head of the DRN1 Radio Station, Robert was given his own podcast show called the Stacked Over Show.
“It is 100% online, and you can view my show as well as others on their website DRN1.com.au. It is essentially a tech talk show where I pick a subject and discuss it for an hour. I have a lot of creative freedom,” he shares.
Some of the discussion topics include artificial intelligence (AI), apps for voting in an election and neural networks. He even has a special guest come on the show to chat each week.
Robert believes starting your own radio show is also an excellent way for both domestic and international students to get their name out there. Plus, he says he is always on the hunt for more guests to come on and talk about subjects they find interesting. If you specialise in a tech-related field, you could maybe even be one of them!
Currently, Robert only does the show for enjoyment, but has hinted that it could become a revenue stream in the future.
“It is currently voluntary, but I have the option of getting sponsors for the show to provide an income.”
Advice for international students
Robert’s key piece of guidance for international students is to start by creating a goal for yourself. Think of a problem that you have and brainstorm realistic ways of solving it.
“The problem I was having was feeling that resumes are not a true representation of what you can do for a company. So, I was thinking of ways I could show myself off in a positive light. I went out, met some people, made some friends, and one friend had a radio show. I asked this friend to introduce me to her boss and she did,” he says.
The rest, of course, is history.
Additionally, Robert highlights that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so it’s vital to understand your own. Play up your strengths while doing your best to work on your areas for improvement. Above all else, he concludes, don’t be afraid to try new things: “If you fall short, it’s a lesson. If you succeed, it’s a story. The only wrong choice is to do nothing.”
You can head here to follow Robert’s radio show today.
TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) is the registered training organisation (RTO) and Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) provider, for the delivery of training to international students, enrolled in TAFE courses in Western Australia. These nationally recognised courses are delivered by Western Australian TAFE colleges on TIWA’s behalf. TIWA retains responsibility for the quality of the training and assessment delivered by the TAFE colleges and for the issue of certification documentation to students.
Visit the TAFE International Western Australia website for information on course offerings for international students.