From cooking for P!nk in one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks to building a career in the international finance world and engineering a more sustainable future, international graduates are making their mark in Adelaide.
We chatted to three graduates about their paths to success, the place of international students in high-growth industries, and their experiences living, working and studying in Adelaide.
Patrícia D’Ávila – Chef to the stars
Laidback Adelaide is almost the complete opposite to bustling mega-city Rio de Janeiro, but that’s the way Patrícia prefers it. Having spent the last 15 years working in communications and doing exhausting 14-hour workdays in Brazil, Patrícia was desperate for a change.
“My husband and I started thinking about our lives – we would work every day, pay the bills, work again. We didn’t have any time for ourselves, and that’s crazy,” she says. “One day, I asked, ‘What would you do if you weren’t at your current job?’”
Patrícia’s husband liked the idea of gardening or possibly even hospitality, but Patrícia was already certain of her dream industry: food.
“I’ve always loved cooking – the smells, the flavours, the people,” she says. “I have an Italian background from my mother’s side, so we’ve always had a lot of people in the kitchen, and I love cooking for my family and friends.”
Upon recommendation from a friend, Patrícia and her husband started looking at Australia as the location for their move. They focused on cities that had Le Cordon Bleu campuses so that Patrícia could learn her new craft. Adelaide’s size and beachside location appealed to them initially, but an agent convinced the couple to move to Sydney instead.
Arriving in Australia in 2015, Patrícia undertook six months of English language courses before starting her Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at TAFE in Sydney. But, Adelaide was always on their minds. After a year in Sydney, the couple moved to the South Australian capital and immediately fell in love with their new home.
“Sydney’s beautiful, but very expensive and busy. When we came to Adelaide, I felt I had really found my place,” Patrícia says. “The weather, the wine, amazing ingredients, good meat, good seafood, beautiful restaurants and lots of festivals.”
Since her graduation in 2017, Patrícia has been happily employed at Adelaide Oval. Her biggest highlight? Cooking for pop superstar, P!nk.
“I didn’t know she was there. There was a strange air, people could sense something was happening, but no one knew what it was,” she says. “Then my chef came in and asked if I knew who was in my corporate box. P!nk – she was eating my food!”
The food industry is experiencing incredibly fast growth, and Patrícia is right in the middle of it. She believes that Australia’s fascination with food is developing even more through its multicultural population.
“There are people coming from Asia, Europe and South America, and I think that builds a mix in food that works very well,” she says. “People say Australia’s just fish and chips, but it’s definitely not.”
Patrícia sees her future in Adelaide. With her years of work experience, she and her husband are in the process of applying for permanent residency. Naturally, they recommend Adelaide to any international student.
“You’ll have such an amazing life in Adelaide. There’s a good balance of work and study and time to yourself, like going to the beach or being at home with a glass of wine and a book or a movie,” Patrícia says. “When people are thinking about going somewhere for study, or to work, or to live, they should be thinking about the quality of life. If they’re looking for that, then Adelaide is the best choice for sure.”
Emma Xie – Financing the future
Originally from China, Emma toured Australia after graduating from her undergraduate degree back home. She had always considered overseas study, so after a successful trip, Australia was the logical choice for her to start her Masters.
“Australia is a very friendly, very naturally beautiful country,” she says. “Of all the cities, I found Adelaide the friendliest towards international students. The living cost is lower, and the University of Adelaide is a really good university, which is why I made the decision to come here.”
Despite taking a few months to settle into her new Australian life, Emma was confident in her studies. With an established background in finance and accounting, a Masters was the natural next step in her career.
“My dad is an accountant, so I always knew what the lifestyle of an accountant would be,” says Emma. “There’s a good job market, it’s easy to find work, and you can understand any business through accounting.”
From Emma’s perspective, the accounting, finance and business sector is currently thriving as a result of the world’s population becoming more diverse.
“The way I see it, Australian businesses … are getting more international. Before, it was focused on the local market, and now we see business coming from overseas,” she says. “This creates more job demand and more opportunities for people to understand business.”
Emma is currently working as an auditor in the city centre but plans to move into the financial advisory industry. Regardless of her next career move, she knows exactly where she wants to be: “I can’t guarantee where I’ll be in 20 years, but right now I plan to stay in Adelaide for a very long time.”
For prospective international students, Emma advises putting yourself out there.
“Be confident. I think in general Australia is a very friendly place for international students or international people,” Emma says. “Just be open, step out of your comfort zone, network and enjoy the environment.”
Sushrut Kulkarni – Engineering a sustainable Australia
Travelling from his home in Pune, India, Sushrut arrived in Adelaide in late 2014 to finish his degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Adelaide.
“I came to Australia [because of] the world-class education it offers,” he says. “There are more opportunities to progress in my chosen field, considering that Australia is an emerging market. I thought it would be much more beneficial to my career if I could be where the actual cutting-edge research and progress is happening.”
In particular, Adelaide has been the perfect environment for him as an international student. He has settled into the city quickly and easily.
“It’s quite conducive for an international student to come and live in Adelaide, especially with the ease of living – it’s cheaper compared to other capital cities,” he says. “Surprisingly, the move was quite a smooth transition for me. It’s always hard at first coming to a new country where you don’t know anybody, but within the first few months, I’d made my set of friends at university and I’d settled right in. It’s coming up to six years here and Adelaide is home now.”
During his time at university, Sushrut was offered an internship at TRILITY, a water utility service provider that operates across Australia and New Zealand. That internship turned into a part-time job and then a full-time position at the same company, putting him at the forefront of Adelaide’s rapidly developing environmental engineering industry. Sushrut is very aware of Australia’s relationship with the environment and the role that environmental engineering can have in the future.
“Considering Australia is essentially only habitable around the coasts and we have quite a big carbon footprint as a country, I think environmental engineering will help us mitigate the impacts we’ve had in the past and provide a better way forward in the future,” he says. “People think, ‘Oh, [environmental engineering is] only to do with the environment and protecting it.’ It’s not just about protecting the environment, but reducing the impact humans have in general.”
Although Sushrut would like to take his experience overseas at some point, he wants to maintain a constant base in Adelaide.
“Adelaide’s just the right size for someone like me who doesn’t like much of a crowd and enjoys work as well as a life balance,” he says. “I’m more than happy to relocate short-term, but I’d like to have a family and be based in Adelaide.”
For fellow international students, Sushrut shares this advice: “Make the most of whatever time you have when you’re studying abroad. It will really help you develop a world view of what kind of impact you can have globally, not just in Australia.”