How to Find a job in Melbourne as an International Student
ACS Young Professionals Vice-Chair/Emerging Professional of the Year 2022 Finalist reflects on the journey from international student to ICT professional
Starting a career as a Data Scientist is not easy. If you were an International Student who came from a third-world developing country such as myself from Sri Lanka, Then it’s never going to be easy. Although there were many obstacles and barriers along the way, I landed my dream job a couple of months ago and it was not by a mistake, So I wanted to share my experience and I hope at least one or two students who read this will find this helpful.
I write this article as an encouragement, inspiration and motivation story to all the international students in Australia who work their asses off. I rose from the bottom so I know how hard it can be to work continuously without proper sleep with all the exams and assignments on your plate but shout out to all those who achieved their targets and graduated in the end! Kudos!
Data Science has become a revolutionary technology that everyone seems to talk about. Hailed as the ‘sexiest job of the 21st century, Data Science is a buzzword with very few people knowing about the technology in its true sense. I was looking for a hot topic to start my final research and somehow ran into the term “Data Analytics using Python”. Trust me I have never created any machine learning model, heard rumors about deep learning and I was pretty much a rookie at Data Science.
What is Data Science?
Data Science is the study of data. It is about extracting, analyzing, visualizing, managing and storing data to create insights. These insights help companies to make powerful data-driven decisions. Data Science requires the usage of both unstructured and structured data. It is a multidisciplinary field that has its roots in statistics, math and computer science. It is one of the most highly sought-after jobs due to the abundance of data science positions and a lucrative pay scale. That was my brief. Simple :)
Why is it hard for an International Student to find a job in Australia?
Let’s break down the things you want to follow if you want to land up your dream job.
The main reason behind this is that you don’t have any connections with the Australian workforce.
What do I mean by connections? Here comes Reason #1
Yes, Networking is a major part if you want to get a job in a foreign country. I mean isn’t it obvious? Let’s hear this example so you’ll clear through the waters:
Imagine Company A has a data and analytics director called Mr.Murphy. His D & A (Data and Analytics) team has only 4 members now. So whenever Murphy wants to hire a new graduate employee as an addition to his team, Who would he go first? If you are the Director do you want to spend money on recruitment agencies to hire people? Or do you want to ask your co-workers and the staff for recommendations?
See my point? Let’s say you went to a free D & A analytics meetup (Networking event) a couple of weeks earlier and you had the chance to meet with Mr. Jay who happens to be a senior data scientist at Murphy’s company. Once Murphy told the staff about acquiring a new member, there’s at least some percentage of a chance of remembering you for the position. So, this is the kind of game you want to play as the first rule of job hunting if you’re an outsider.
So this is the first rule I followed in job hunting. Enable nearby event notifications on Meetup ( https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/ ) and Eventbrite ( https://www.eventbrite.com.au/ ) and attend all the events you can.
My commute to Melbourne CBD events from the place I stayed at that time is nearly an hour by train (Public Transport) but I kept coming and got to meet more than 100 new people (From all around the world) and YOU SHOULD TOO! Get to know a few people (5–10) and after the meetup connect with him on LinkedIn and send a thank you note.
The first part is done.
2. Be proactive and let go of fear
Once you start going to several meetups for at least 2–3 months, you’ll feel the confidence growing inside you and right after it’s gotten to you, Contact your favorite meetup’s organizer and ask him to give you a chance at speaking as a guest speaker at one of the future meetups.
Coming from a country where English is not the first language, you might find it difficult to express your ideas with friends or in classes. You might not feel confident to speak up with your own accent, or you might fear of being judged if you say something “not clever” in the class. I know, being an international student is not easy. People sometimes don’t remember your name but your nationality. You might be afraid that they would refer to you as “that Sri Lankan boy who always gets choked on the stage.”
The good news is that, yes, they might remember you like that! (Sorry to let you down.) But, they will be thankful for your contribution. Even I contributed to Melbourne Python Users Meetup last June speaking about “Accessing Google Spreadsheets Data Using Python” and I was super nervous but somehow I’ve ended the 40mins speech + live demo and I thought I was horrible at the stage but a man in his 40’s then thanked me for sharing that because what I shared was very eye-opening to her and it opened up a meaningful discussion. After that, at least 70% of the event has come up to me in person and thanked me so that was one of the best 15mins of my life since I never imagined myself getting appreciated by local Aussies in the first place. (Below is the article I wrote after my speech at the meetup)
People want you to be active (Proactive) at everything. I wished someone has given me these advices three years ago but somehow I managed to learn all this by myself and I want you all to follow the path and trust me you all can do this!
Accessing Google Spreadsheet Data using Python
As you all are familiar with importing, exporting and manipulating comma separate files (CSV) using Python, Hereby in…
3. Write a Blog (In my case — Data Science)
Pick a platform (Pick Medium for an example) and write about the new technologies and skills you’ve learned in the past few months.
ex: Docker, Python, R, Tableau, IBM SPSS….etc
And you’re reading one of the blog posts on my blog :)
The Ultimate Guide to Data Warehousing
Like all great stories, Let’s start with the History. 1980’s to early 1990's-Focus on computerizing business…
Post at least one article per month. I’ll show you how this helps at the end of this article.
4. Be Friendly during Interviews (Meetings/Catchups)
If you have followed my first two rules, The anxiety and the nervousness would slowly reduce with time.
The other thing is that, Research about the organization and the people that are going to interview.
- Look into the LinkedIn profile (See all the posts, articles and posts he/ she shared) and see whether you both have a common interest (Hobby/Sport/Community/Networking Event or anything)
- Luckily, I found that one of my interviewers and I got one common connection so I reached out to him asking about him and the organization and he really helped me out.
I’ll share some of the weird topics we discussed in my interview.
I am an active member of Melbourne Silicon Beach and participated in Monthly Pitch Night at Royal Melbourne Hotel we talked a lot about Startups in CA and Melbourne for about 10–15mins.
2. AFL — (Australian Football League)
I’m not much into AFL stuff but I know the basics and a bit of history so I brought up that topic at the end of the interview which really helped me to make a relationship between me and them inside the room.
These are not necessary skills to have, but my point being is that you got to have the “FRIENDLINESS” to get into the local people. (Of course, you must have the technical knowledge but I know that these are the key points students tend to think that don’t even matter but YES THEY DO MATTER.
5. Sum up the above rules and add them to your CV
What do I mean by extra points?
Let’s say a Data Scientist position available in Company A.
- 100 Applications have been received.
- 60 of them are International Students and 40 of them are locals.
- You’ll highlight your resume by being an active member of one of Melbourne’s leading Networking groups and hell, You even did a speech there!
- And you write articles related to Data Science and Analytic on Towards Data Science, The leading online publication of Data Science.
- I’m sure they are keen to meet you in person by looking at your resume and your Blog articles.
I’d like to quote something from Gerard Holland who is the CEO of Outcome.Life which helps a lot of international students all around Melbourne to secure themselves with Internships which can be the greatest foundation of your career path.
“Not all employers know the value of a graduate but graduates are young and beaming and can bring something new to an office or workplace, as they have the most up-to-date knowledge and education compared to experienced workers.
Those from overseas can prove to be particularly valuable as they have cultural and global awareness. Graduates can offer a fresh take on things and can adapt quickly as they aren’t used to being buried in bureaucracy.
The last thing that they should be classified as is merely an expense. The view that they may leave after having time invested in their learning shouldn’t be a deterrent as, if you offer them the right conditions, they won’t want to leave at all.
The value that they can add to a business is huge and is often overlooked since it can’t be quantified with a dollar value.
While graduates may not necessarily be able to bring in the new business right away, they can offer the perspective that is needed to retain and enhance existing projects.”
Those who know this, Will hire you for sure!
Connect with me on LinkedIn
Keen on getting to know me and my work? Click here for more!
Updated on 19/03/2022
🏆 I am honored and proud to share that I was selected as a finalist nominee for the ‘𝐄𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐈𝐂𝐓 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫’ award as part of the ACS (Australian Computer Society) Digital Disruptors Awards 2022. 🏆
Click below to read my note on the award night:
In the meantime — Check out these two articles which include the steps that I have followed: