The 8th CISA National Conference 2018 was held in Cairns from 25th to 28th June 2018. The National Conference is the biggest conference of international students in Australia. In essence, there were over 250 international student delegates and industry professionals, making it the biggest international student conference Australia wide. This year’s CISA National Conference was themed as ‘Overcoming Barriers’ to acknowledge the issues faced by international students in Australia. International student leaders, as well as various industry leaders, were collaborating in Cairns to find solutions to these problems and concerns together.
Today I will write about my experience at the QUTIC mentor training.
QUTIC Mentors are a group of students in their second semester of their diploma programme that want to help new students to settle into Brisbane. Watching and knowing some mentors on the orientation day really helped me adapt more quickly to the environment and culture of Australia. The mentors were very friendly to us new students, and they answered any questions we might have. Because of my experience with the mentors, in the second semester of my diploma programme I decided to become a mentor myself.
I am Kasun Kalhara, studying Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at Queensland University of Technology, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. Since high school, I was interested in advocating peer students and support them.
It has been two weeks since I started my internship at EY Singapore. This was not an easy start because I arrived to a new country by myself and I didn’t really know what to expect. The feeling I got when I first arrived Singapore was somewhat similar compared to when I first landed in Australia.
Today I handed in my last assignment which gave me a bittersweet feeling — only one exam left until I graduate.
As the graduation season is approaching, I got asked quite a few times from family and friends what my plan is after finishing study. To be honest, I’m still not too sure.
I remember before I left China, I was super excited and decided that I would stay in Australia and find a job there because of the good weather, great beaches and higher paying jobs than my home country. Now two years have passed and I start feeling unsure what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go.
I haven’t worked in China, but got told how fast it is developing and how many opportunities there are. I remember last time when I was doing training for the dragon boat race, a friend of mine who just went on a business trip to Shanghai said: “OMG, so many big deals are happening right now in China!”. It made me really tempted to go back and be part of this rapid change. The thought of joining the booming market made me feel excited.
However, I also have concerns about going back. First of all, there are so many Chinese students returning home every year. Some of them graduated from top universities from all over the world. Therefore, if I go back, I have to compete with all those top talents to get a good job which make me feel very pressured. Secondly, regardless of the chance of getting a good job, I’m not too sure whether I will like the fast pace and busy lifestyle in the finance industry back home.
On the other hand, working in Australia sounds both exciting and full of uncertainty. Will Iget a job? What I should do? Will I stay here forever? I heard from my friends who have already graduate that getting a job, a good one, here in Australia is very hard. As an international student, you sometimes might feel left out among your colleagues because of different lifestyle and communication barriers. However, the work life balance is definitely better compared with China.
Even though I had two years to think about my future plan and career path while studying overseas, I’m still not too sure where I should go. I think time will tell what choice I should make, but for now, I will follow my heart!
When you think about working overseas, does the idea excite you or terrify you?
For me, working overseas has always been on my to-do list since I finished high school. Growing up in a small town in rural Shanghai, I wanted to go outside my hometown and see what opportunities are out there. When I was 19, I went abroad for the first time to the United States where I got the chance to see another side of the world. This really intrigued me to think: what do people do in another country and how culture can shape the personality of a person?
I’m sure most of you really want to step out of your comfort zone and experience something different from your current environment. But some of you might think: “Oh I don’t have the money to go overseas.””I really want to go but no one is going with me.” or “How can I work overseas while I can’t get a working visa?”.
Well, I’ve seen many people overcame all the obstacles and supported themselves financially while working overseas. How? I’ll share with you some of the ways I tried or am planning to try out in order to work in another country.
As an organisation dedicated to provide students with internship and volunteering opportunities with overseas partners, AIESEC helps students seek overseas employment. While some of the jobs are volunteering based, there are paid roles as well. Most universities in Australia have an AIESEC branch or student club on campus, make sure to check it out.
- Teach English
If you speak English as your mother tongue or are confident about your English skills, there are whole tons of opportunities to go overseas and teach English, whether be in China, Thailand or Spain.
At first I had this impression that you have to speak English as your first language to be eligible to apply. However, I later found out that this is not necessary. Some of the organisations are open to candidates who don’t speak English as their native language. In addition, there are pros if English is not your first language because you went through the process of learning English and know well what teaching approach is more effective.
I just did a key word search on QUT Career Hub and a lot of teaching positions pop up!
- Working Holiday
This is probably one of the most common ways people choose to work overseas. While studying and travelling in Australia, I met so many people coming to Australia to work as well as having a holiday. The only downside about this that I can think of is that most jobs offered to working holiday visa holders are in the field of hospitality. If you are looking for professional jobs, it might be hard to get one.
- Apply for an internship
For some multinational companies that have offices across the world, they are more open to candidates from overseas. In the area of accounting which is my major, some of the accounting firms like Ernest & Young welcome interns from overseas universities and give support in obtaining a working visa. So it is worth doing some research and just apply!
If you have a passion to work overseas and experience something different in this ever-changing global world, just do it! Many people have done it! I’m sure we can do it too!
At the end of August, I was invited to talk about QUT Careers and Employment services from a student’s perspective in front of QUT international partners. Who have also been invited were a QUT recent alumni, a graduate recruitment officer from Suncorp as well as another current QUT student.
The showcase started with a 3 – 5 minute self-introduction from student representatives and the recent alumni. Each of us talked about what we had been involved with during our time at QUT and what Careers and Employment services we had used.
By listening to others’ talk, I found that it is enormously helpful for international students to take good use of QUT Career services.
Click here to access the international student panel talking about QUT Career resources.
After that, Kelly Pfeffer, graduate talent lead from Suncorp talked about her attitude towards international students from a recruiter’s perspective. I found her talk both useful and insightful for both international students at QUT and prospective students considering coming to Australia for further study.
Major takeaways from her talk are:
- Nowadays some banks hire more IT students than business students for developing and innovation purposes
- More sponsorship places are available to IT students compared with business students
- Personality test result is a major factor in shortlisting candidates
- International students stay in the company longer than their Australian peers (maybe due to sponsorship obligation)
- A company sees the investment pays back if a graduate stays with them for at least 3 years
When I talk to my friends that I’m writing blogs as an international student for QUT and share with them my very own life in Brisbane, they always ask me: How did you become a blogger and can I become one as well?
I know some of you, my readers, must be wondering as well and might want to be a future student blogger for QUT. Therefore today I want to share with you how I became a student blogger and some potential ways of finding employment on campus.
About one year ago, I received an email with a recruitment advertisement in it calling for international students being bloggers talking about their life in Brisbane. It is a paid casual job and all you need to do for application is to upload your video/photos. Then I thought why not apply? So I applied and luckily got an interview opportunity.
My blogging life all started from taking the initiative and applying for it! So if you come across some opportunities like this, don’t hesitate and apply!
Other tips I can give you about seeking on-campus jobs are:
- Check out QUT career hub frequently
It’s the first place QUT put down their recruitment ads if they are hiring students. QUT Business School recruits student learning advisers there. QUT admission also recruits student officers there.
- Check out QUT Jobs website
When applying for jobs that needs more experience, check out the official QUT website.
- Start from volunteering
If you don’t have any working experience, it might be a good idea to start from volunteering and build up your skills. Some volunteering opportunity on campus will lead to paid jobs!
QUT Careers and Employment has many resources available to help students seek employment. Recently, I attended an International Student Panel on our experience with QUT Careers and Employment. We shared our journey at QUT and talked about highly recommended services every student should know about. Now I’m going to recommend three services that you can’t miss to help you get employment in Australia.
If you are an accounting, nursing or justice student, this is a special program for you to gain some internship experience. QUT Career staff will send you job opportunities available once you join this program and also help you prepare for your interviews. Keep in mind that these opportunities are only available to QUT students studying a certain major, so don’t miss out!
Ready to take your career journey to a next level? Joining QUT Career Mentor Scheme is a good way to meet people from the industry and gain some tips first hand. You will be matched with a professional from your desired industry and learn from them what it is really like to work in that industry.
The following are two videos explaining in more detail on what services are offered to international students:
All the best to your job-seeking and good luck!
It’s almost a rite of passage for the current day for undergraduate students to do a summer internship for at least their last two years of study.
As international students we may have the slight disadvantage of not having any connections in the industry for us to land an internship – we often require more effort and time compared to that required by a domestic student.
However, QUT has in place a Vacation Research Scheme (VRES) for which all QUT students can apply! You will usually get an email in your second semester giving you more details about the VRES projects available and the supervisors in charge of each project.
The projects are categorised by school so it is easier to find a project that suits your interests and academic field. I come under the School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences, so I skipped over all the other projects to look at the projects listed under this school because they would be more relevant to me.
You are required to choose and nominate three projects that interest you, in order of preference. You must email the supervisors of each of the three projects and meet up with them beforehand. This allows you to show interest in the respective project and to also get to know about the nitty-gritty of the projects. After your chats with them, your order of preference may change. So this needs to be done before you submit the application.
As per usual you need to state why you want to take part in VRES. As places are limited, the entry to this is very competitive. The supervisors have high expectations of the students who do get into VRES, and you get paid for each week of research you do.
In general, it is rather uncommon for a first year to get in, although you’re more than welcome to apply. Most supervisors prefer students from the second year and upwards due to the simple fact that by the end of the second year, you would have more knowledge and experience in the field, so the project would be more beneficial to you. However, a few first year students do get into VRES each year, so don’t let that discourage you from applying.
Read the details early on so that you can organise a time to meet up with the supervisor easily, because they tend to be very busy and often don’t have time to see you on short notice.
Keep in mind, this is just one of many opportunities that will come your way. Check in other places such as Engineers without Borders and CSIRO for other internships that maybe available to you. VRES is really good place to start looking, because it is from QUT itself.