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.
As long as I have been studying in Brisbane (over 7 years), I have never ever felt threatened and most of my international acquaintances would agree.
While studying, I have been working in hospitality for multiple different reasons:
- my first job experience, no specific qualification required at first
- really flexible
- depending on the workplace you can get really good tips, which is really good extra money.
There are always a position available somewhere.
Source: Adeline Martin. Bartender at Mr & Ms G, River Side.
I have been making coffee really early in the morning forcing me to walk the streets at 5am; to making cocktails at night in some of the busiest nightclub areas in Brisbane, finishing work at 4am.
Locals would consider those times dangerous. And most of the time my international co-worker and I would explain to them what dangerous is.
Not once in all this time spent in Brisbane I had any issues: no stalker, no insult, some drunk people through the weekends but if you are careful and no provocation, I do not see a reason for bad things to happen.
Source: Adeline Martin. Walking home from Fortutide Valley to the City and New Farm
And depending where you work and where you go, some of the night sites are just amazing!
Source: Adeline Martin. Casino lights from South Bank.
Source: Adeline Martin. Working in South Bank.
I lived everywhere in Brisbane, my favorite walk home is along riverside with really nice scenery! How could you miss that?!
Source: Adeline Martin. River Side walk with the Story Bridge view.
In Australia, it is really common for university students to work in hospitality and retail. However in China, most of university students focus more on study and doing professional internship.
For a lot of international students coming from developing countries, the living expense here is very high. So they start working part-time to make some money and cover their living expenses. The hospitality and retail industry is where most international students choose to work.
I tried my luck to find a job just by dropping my resume to local cafes and was called for training after several days. Having no experience in hospitality before, let alone making coffee, I started my job by taking coffees to customers. Watching my co-worker, Sarah, making coffee, I started trying to make different kinds of coffee as well. Through continuing practice, I can pretty much make all kinds of coffee after 2 weeks. Yes! Practice makes perfect.
Though it’s rewarding to make customers happy, challenges are always there in hospitality. Customers are always first even if sometimes you are sick and don’t really want to talk. How to immediately fix a mistake when you do something wrong is not that simple. And starting a conversation with customers always makes me, an introvert, feel nervous.
All in all, I learnt a lot by working in hospitality. My confidence and communication skills definitely improved out of it. I can say it’s always a good experience to do something different in another country!
One month 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.
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 everyday 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.