By Tiffany P. Monorom
What makes international students unique? What skills and experiences do they possess that make them stand out in the crowd?
The number of international students in Australia as of June 2017 is 510, 348, which is a 14 per cent increase from June 2016 (see this report from Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training).
As the number of international students increases, the tougher the employment journey gets.
Here are three ways that you, international students, can differentiate yourselves from the crowd when competing with other candidates in the job market.
You Are Independent
It is not an easy thing to do to move away from your family and friends, to live on your own and to get through university by yourself. All of these show that you are very mature and highly independent.
While living in a different country, you’ve learned how to adapt to a different culture and different ways of life. For some of you, you’ve had to learn English – sometimes without any formal education. You have an understanding of Australian heritage with the celebration and remembrance on national holidays like Australia Day and ANZAC Day. Adaptation can also include the little things, like familiarising yourselves with some Australian slang.
This shows that you are capable of stepping out of your comfort zone which is not something that everybody can do. It takes courage and a great deal of determination.
You Are Persistent
You’ve had to face many challenges and make many sacrifices in order to be here. Some international students even go far and beyond to accept extremely low paying jobs in a totally different industry just to get their foot in the door.
Trying to attend classes while working part-time, dealing with immense homesickness while experiencing culture shock is a lot to take in. Yet you keep pressing on because great achievements don’t happen overnight.
The amount of commitment you put in will show employers that you are willing to do what it takes to complete the job. It is this willingness that makes international students attractive candidates in the workplace.
Further, international students are required to undertake at least four courses (24 units) per semester, which means that dropping a course is never a great option because you might be in breach of your visa conditions. This strict requirement teaches you to deal with challenging situations in real life and to not simply quit when things get too difficult.
You Are Culturally Aware
Besides potentially being able to speak more than one language, you possess specific knowledge of the culture, economy and work ethic of another country. Most companies and organisations are competing in the global economy so having bilingual employees would be beneficial when communicating with overseas clients. Multiculturalism is also just a valued skill by many employers, regardless of whether you actually use multiple languages at work.
Further, through your experiences as an international student, you have learned to embrace diversity, which means that you are able to relate with other people from a different background and work effectively in a multicultural environment. Most importantly, your cultural awareness will help you deal with different situations faced by your organisation.
Being an international student allows you to bring in new ideas and perspectives to your workplace. Different views will help change the way a firm operates since most firms are always on the lookout for ways to improve their business.
Keep in mind that you aren’t any less qualified for the job just because you are from a different cultural background. In fact, you’re more qualified in many ways.
Now, who wouldn’t want to hire someone who is independent, persistent and culturally aware? Just make sure you highlight these key qualities with your potential employers.
Best of luck!