Many international students choose to apply for work opportunities in Australia when they finish their studies. If this is something you are considering, we’ve put together a guide to help you find work when you graduate.
Research your visa and residency options
To stay in Australia when you finish your course, you will need to apply for a new visa or seek to gain permanent residency. If you want to stay in Australia to work, you will have the opportunity to apply for one of several work visas. See the Extending your stay section of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website for details. If you want to continue to live and work in Australia, you can apply for permanent residency as a skilled migrant through gaining a Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189). You will need to do this through the federal government’s SkillSelect online service.
You can also apply for the Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485), which will allow you to remain in Australia for a set period of time after you finish your course. This visa has two streams:
- Graduate Work Stream: available to graduates who have completed qualifications relating to occupations on the Australian Government’s Skilled Occupation List (SOL). Visas in this stream are granted for 18 months.
- Post-study Work Stream: available to recent graduates of a higher education course in any field of study. Visas in this stream are granted for up to four years, depending on the qualification completed.
Use your institution’s career support services
Your institution will have a range of career support services available to students, including some for international students like yourself. You can expect to be able to access a job search, get help with your résumé and applications, and attend workshops to help you improve your employability (your interview and communication skills, for example). Your institution may also organise special career events, such as expos or lectures where you can hear from employers in your study area (for example, one of the ‘Big Four’ firms if you are studying business or accounting).
Get professional work experience
Completing work experience during your course is very important if you want to find a job in Australia once you graduate. Most Australian students try to complete a period of work experience while they are at university so that they stand out from other applicants when seeking work. Completing work experience in your area of study shows employers that you have a strong interest in the field and that you have already gained skills you could use on the job. You will also gain valuable skills that you will need to use in an Australian workplace, such as effective communication, teamwork and accountability.
Keeping in touch with your classmates and instructors will be very helpful when you are looking for work, especially if they have connections to a particular employer and can recommend you. This is known as ‘networking’. Just remember that networking doesn’t mean that you will get a job only because you know the right people. What it does mean is that you are more likely to hear about opportunities and get advice about what it’s like to work in a particular field. Of course, if you’re lucky, a friend may be able to give your résumé to their employer or a lecturer may provide a written reference. If you’re not sure how to start networking, a good idea is to join clubs and societies on campus — particularly those that are relevant to your course. For example, you might complement your arts degree by joining a campus political group. Social media can be very helpful too — particularly LinkedIn, which is a dedicated career networking tool.
Most importantly, do not lose hope if it is taking some time to find work. Even for local students, getting a graduate job can be difficult — especially in very competitive areas of study. You may also think about enrolling into a further course of study in order to improve your job prospects or seeking work that can offer a pathway into your dream job.