Networking for international students: What to do and why it’s important

Networking is an essential part of finding a job or internship position while studying or after you’ve completed your degree. The connections you make in school and your community will likely help you promote who you are and may help you achieve your career goals in your chosen field.

However, establishing a business network is not always easy, especially for international students. So where can international students start to gain an advantage when it comes to networking and meeting new people?

Frank Yu, a second year Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Melbourne, currently works as an education agent outside of school. His job mainly involves assisting international students in Australia understand the art of “business networking”.

Frank believes that networking is an essential part of an international student’s life and says it can “provide students potential job opportunities” as well as “improve their social and communicative skills”.

He understands that networking can be difficult, but he recommends that students try to be nice to others and stay in touch once you’ve made a connection.

“Don’t be too shy, practice makes perfect,” Frank said.

Chinese student Julie He, currently studying at Monash University, is currently working at a part time job at an agency in Melbourne; a job that she acquired through networking.

“When I was [a first-year student] in Monash University, I joined the Business and Commerce Students’ Society (BCSS) where obviously I met lots of students under the Bachelor of Commerce, and one day [at a] weekly event held by BCSS, I met a guy named Duang, [who] used to be Monash University student [but] now [has] his own business and has lots of business contacts. After chatting for a while, we added [each other on] Facebook but didn’t talk after that. Last month, suddenly he sent me a message [saying] that, his company needed someone to contact with Chinese customers on weekends and that’s how I found my part-time job.”

On the importance of networking, Julie says that doing so can be beneficial for students in that it forces people to step out of their comfort zone. She recommends that students not only make friends on their own campuses but from other universities as well.

“When you try it, you will find that it’s not that hard to find people who have common interests with you. Just be brave and try your best,” Julie said.

For international students who are still worried about what to do when it comes to networking, here are some useful tips for you to keep in mind the next time you want to grow your connections:

  • Try to make a specific and appropriate introduction for yourself: Know who you are, build confidence for yourself and let that translate to people you meet at networking events.
  • Meet people in person often: Once you’ve made those connections, don’t just keep them online forever. Try and organise a meeting or invite someone to a cup of coffee. This will not only strengthen your network but can also help to broaden your own horizons.
  • Meet people in different careers: People who participate in different jobs have their own experiences, which will help you to see and understand how the world works and will enable you to grow a diverse and varied network of people.
  • Try to be brave and confident: Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because practice makes perfect. It’s a good way to improve yourself and make progress!

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via meld@meldmagazine.com.au.

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