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Job-searching: A struggle for international students

The Swanston Gazette takes a look into the lives of international students, finding out which matters most, in-field experience or money. 



Photo: Chelsea Khoo exploring the joys of what Melbourne has to offer.

The Federal Government announced that international students on student visas would be restricted to working no more than 48 hours a fortnight from July 1 this year.


In the same month, the youth unemployment rate rose to 8.3 per cent, despite statistics of part-time employment increasing by 9,600 people.


These two factors, alongside the rising cost of living, have left travelling students to bear the brunt of the repercussions.


The restriction has made it hard for students like Nur Ameera Binte Mohamed Suib, a final-year RMIT Journalism student from Singapore to land a job in her field, despite having prior job experiences in her home country and at RMIT.


“I have been job-searching on websites like LinkedIn, Seek and even through the emails that RMIT sends for about seven months now. None of them have gotten back,” she said.


“I want experience related to what I study more than anything because I want to settle down permanently in Australia. I know companies prefer that to certificates.”


This has not stopped her from being on the hunt for casual opportunities in other sectors, such as retail and hospitality. 


“I’ve printed out my resume and walked into several cafes to express my interest for a job. Still, none of them have gotten back to me,” she said.


She attributed the lack of Australian working experience and a narrow circle of connections as the reasons she was unable to find a job.


This is the same for Christina Tu, a first-year international student from Taiwan, who is undertaking the Bachelor of Interior Design course at RMIT University. 


She has been looking for a casual job in hospitality to sustain her lifestyle in Australia for the past six months.


“I’ve noticed that my friends get jobs a lot easier if they have a long list of experience on their resumes,” she explained.


Ms Tu remains on the hunt for a job primarily due to financial concerns, living abroad away from her family.


To manage her situation, she limits her expenditure by purchasing canned food and items that are on sale.


However, for final-year Professional Communications student Chelsea Koo from Singapore, her job-searching efforts have been successful, landing her a Melbourne-based part-time retail job.


“Having citizenship and connections play a big part in Australia. Companies do not favour students on a working visa as much due to working hour restrictions since they require commitment,” she said.


Similar to Ms Suib, Ms Koo went on a hunt by handing her resume to every store in the Melbourne Emporium, persevering despite rejections.


For stores that did not give her an answer straight away, she went back again and followed-up to ask if they were willing to hire her.


“It felt like the first step in the right direction to me. Although initially I really wanted to work in something that is related to my degree, most employers do not hire casuals for those roles,” Ms Koo said.


When The Swanston Gazette spoke to RMIT’s Job Shop regarding the reasons students are desperate for a job, the reasons given were mainly high costs of living.


“Other reasons is that having part-time or casual employment really develops 21st century skills, such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving, which enhances their employability,”  RMIT Senior Coordinator of Career Development

Michelle Brown said.  


“We have a great online job board via our career centre for all RMIT students, where we upload between 20 to 30 jobs per day, among other services we offer,” Ms Brown said.


RMIT’s Job Shop provides job-searching services, including resume and cover letter reviews, job interview preparation, LinkedIn advice and profile reviews, career guidance, planning and support, work integrated learning and internship advice, as well as advice on further study or changing programs.


To get in touch with RMIT Job Shop, students can book an appointment here based on their needs.




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