Work experience and internships

How to find an internship as an international student

Two days ago, I was offered a paid internship as a tax accountant for two months during the tax season ( July to August). I was literally too happy I burst out crying when I got the phone call. If you are an international student as well, I’m sure you can understand why I feel this way. I know a lot of international students are struggling in finding an internship, so hope some of the tips I write in this blog can help.

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First let’s identify some difficulties when finding an internship for international students, taking me as an example:

  • Language barrier

This obviously is a huge obstacle for me who have lived in China for most of my life. Coming to Australia last year and haven’t studied overseas before, I find it very hard when doing group discussion with domestic students and clearly conveying my thoughts.

  • A lack of local working experience

When I started job seeking in October last year, most of my working/volunteering experience on my resume happened in Shanghai. I only put down one local volunteer experience (Robotronica @ QUT). This made me very unconfident as most companies value local experience.

  • Unmatched information

This can be a lack of knowledge about resume format & recruitment process (it’s different from your home country), networking awkwardness (I have never attended any networking events before coming to Australia) and not taking good use of QUT Career Hub (which turns out to be extremely useful for me ).

Though these obstacles are very daunting, don’t let them define us and be positive! At the end of the day, you can totally overcome these difficulties. Yes, I guarantee! The following is what I did to improve myself and gradually be more and more confident as a job-seeker.

1.Start being active in uni

Join one or two clubs and get engaged with uni activities (aka connector, global cafe, LDI). I’m sure you want to build up your confidence and be a better communicator. Attending extra-curricula workshops is a good way to learn how to do team work and speak up your ideas. In addition, you can also meet people and expand your network.

2. Have a LinkedIn profile and learn from other people’s career path

One of the things I often do is to check other people’s career path on Linkedin. It’s not stalking others (though my friends always say I like stalking people on Linkedin) but through reading other people’s work experience, you can see how they ended up getting a good graduate job. Some people may have great GPA, others, while not showing their GPA on Linkedin, have already got two or three major-related work experience before graduation.

3. Start volunteering, this will lead to a paid role eventually

Before I got this paid position, I have done lots of unpaid work ranging from being a QUT Connector in orientation week, being an executive in a uni club to volunteering outside uni in a non-for-profit for 7 months. This process is mainly about building up local work experience and get an idea of how it is like to work in Australian office environment.

4. Take good use of QUT Career and Employment resources

I attended lots of workshops hosted by QUT Career and Employment, most of them are extremely useful. If you want me to recommend you one or two workshops, I’ll definitely say: go for resume, cover letter and interview workshops, career counsellors will help you polish your skills.

5. Stay positive even though you get rejections

I know it’s very frustrating to be rejected. I have been rejected more than 20 times before getting this internship. Also I failed 3 interviews this semester out of 4 interviews. But that’s okay! You know what, one of my friends who’s also an international student applied for 60 positions on Seek, got lots of rejections but ended up getting a job eventually. So be positive and never give up.

6. Check Career Hub every day and start applying

Why Career Hub is way better than Seek? Because most of the jobs on career hub is only targeted at QUT students  and only need entry-level experience while the job ads on Seek are available to everyone all over Australia and usually require many years of experience. So your chance of being successful is much higher. Everyday you will find new jobs posted on Career Hub as well. For me, both of the two positions I got so far were from Career Hub. So there you go, check it everyday and start applying!

Just found I have been talking a lot haha. Okay peace out and good luck! I’d like to hear back your good news.

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In 2015 I came to Australia and became an international student here. Ever since then I started my journey of getting more engaged in university, seeking internship and making more friends. I always strive to live in the moment because time is really short for us international students!

4 Comments

  1. avatar

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It made me positive. To be honest, I was hesitated to find jobs in Australia, and thought to go back to my country. Because, I had a carrer there, and easier decision. But, it is not my desire, I want to work in Australia, and try everyways for my future. Your genuine experience was worth to read.

    • avatar
      Aubrey Reply

      Thanks Green, thanks for sharing with me your thoughts. And good luck about finding a job in Australia!

  2. avatar

    congrats! it’s really helpful for me as a international student.

  3. avatar
    Melissa Cain Reply

    Dear Aubrey,

    I am writing on behalf of the WISP project team at Griffith University (Work Placements for International Students Program). Your blog relates really closely to our project and we really enjoyed reading about your perspectives on gaining WIL experiences in Australia as an International student! You can find out a bit about us at: http://wisp-project.weebly.com/

    We would like to invite you to the WISP forum to be held on June 2nd at Southbank (would you be interested in saying a few words?). Please do reply to my email address for more information. It would be great to be able to send you the forum flyer.

    Many thanks,
    Melissa

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