Student blog: 5 tips to help international students find a job

DJ headshot

By Dongjin You

DJ (DongJin) was a 2017 Brisbane International Student Ambassador and is from South Korea. He has recently graduated from a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Griffith University and is currently working at Expert Education and Visa Services as a consultant.

Are you worried or stressed about finding a job but trying to maintain calmness at the same time? Don’t worry, I have been through the same stage as well.

As an international student, it seems that it is very difficult to find work. But is that actually true?  A lot of companies expect certain pre-requisites to be met to be eligible for a role – for example: ‘two years’ minimum experience’, or ‘Permanent Resident or Australian citizen eligible to work in Australia’.

But, do not limit yourself as what it is described in the job advertisements you find. Go above and beyond.

DJ You - student blog

No door was ever built with the purpose of being closed. So, knocking on doors persistently will eventually pay off. I have decided to write this article to share my knowledge and experiences I have accumulated over time to secure employment in Australia in the Accounting & Finance Industry after my graduation. This article is specifically designed to assist International students, particularly those who are currently studying a Business degree and are especially interested in beginning a career in Commerce.

So here, here’s my give tips to securing employment as an international student.

1. Focus on the 3 P’s - Be Proactive, Be Prepared, Be Persistent

If you want to achieve a goal, you have to take a proactive approach with determination and grit. Back in high school, I was very reactive and was lacking confidence. However, when I first started university, I decided to take a proactive approach toward my goals. Every day, I reminded myself what I really had to focus on to minimise the work – especially so that I wouldn’t focus on things that were just unnecessary.

Start planning a little while ahead, and be prepared to enjoy the perks of a contingent plan as it is most likely that original plan will not turn out as you anticipated. It is so natural to feel daunted and insecure about uncertainty of the future during this journey. But, life is enjoyable when it is not predictable!

Finding a job can take a short time for one person, but it could take a really long time for another. It is easy to degrade your capabilities and begin to lose some of your self-confidence when you do not easily find a job. However, stay positive, reach out for help and continue to consistently apply for jobs. The right moment will come where someone find your value! Focus on those three P’s (proactive, prepared, persistent), and the moment of success will come!

2. Believe in yourself

Always make sure to act confident even when you are not feeling so. Going in for an interview can be a nerve wrecking moment, and it is easy to let nerves overcome you.

I recently went in for an interview with Flight Centre, and looking back I realised that simply telling my story significantly helped me to relax during the interview. This was very important for me because when I get nervous or excited, I tend to speak really fast. For those of you who, like me, can let nerves overcome you sometimes, just take a moment to control your nerves and tell your story to properly showcase who you are as a person. You will feel a lot more confident, and start to feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment more easily.

3. Find a part-time role during full time study

Regardless of what your dream job is, whichever industry you wish to work in, find a job while you’re studying. You not only support yourself financially, but also you obtain the skillsets of time management, quality communication and teamwork – all vital in the full-time workforce. Also, it is handy to have a summary of duties and skills you have gained to prepare for job interviews.

One of the greatest ways to find a job during your studies is to utilise internship programs through your university or institution.

DJ You - student blog

Do you know of any internship opportunities available within your study area? If not, go and talk to the Student Career & Employment Officer, Couse Convenor or explore the University website. With the university support, obtaining the Internship is a lot simpler and more time efficient. It is the best way to get hands-on experience for international students when there are restrictions to apply for the Graduate programs. I secured an internship with the Bank of Queensland through university and also worked at the Griffith University Finance Department for a short term to build up my experience and resume. As a Brisbane International Student Ambassador in 2017, I have worked as an Intern for AKBC Annual Meeting. Building up interpersonal relationships is so important.

Do not be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.

4. Take part in extracurricular activities

DJ You - student blog

Joining an accounting and finance-related student society at uni was great fun. There are highly engaged, like-minded and motivated students working together to achieve a goal of providing a quality service. Joining a uni society gives an opportunity to organise lots of professional and social events to connect students with the industry. Not only that, it is beneficial as you obtain a deeper understanding of the industry you wish to join (in my case, the accounting industry), which firms exist, the type of people they look for, how they operate and what types of clients they have. Joining societies also provides the opportunity to network and build the connections with the future employees from the industry.

Note: if the thought of networking freaks you out, my fellow Brisbane International Student Ambassador Ocean has written some top tips to networking.

5. Expand your networks and connect with industry mentors

DJ You - student blog

Lastly, expanding networks by attending networking events during your studies will help you familiarise yourself with the professional environment. Listening to the journey of graduate accountants or experienced accountants provided me with insights of what I hope to be doing in the future.

Hopefully, my experiences from this article will help you get started at one stage to achieve all your goals. Focus on what you can do and do not give up. 

Then, all the best!

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