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Taking ownership of your career development

Meld Magazine

Wed Oct 10 2012


IN the first part of our career development series, Monash University’s Multicultural Employment Consultant, Danny Ong, tells you why career development starts when you first begin overseas education – not just once you graduate. 

In my job as Multicultural Employment Consultant at Monash University, I often work with different stakeholders to educate businesses about the importance of respecting students’ work rights. As part of my role, I am also sourcing more employment opportunities (which conform to Australian workplace regulations) for Monash students.

As most prevailing employment issues in Australia are encountered by international students across different education institutions, I hope to generate greater awareness of these issues through monthly contributions to Meld Magazine. These articles aim to allow international students to better understand the employment challenges that they may encounter during their Australian education.

More significantly, international students must acknowledge the need to undertake greater ownership of these challenges, as they are solely responsible for their own careers. This is achieved through exploring the subtle relationships between international students, education institutions and employers (both potential and current).

Prior to discussing any employment issues, there is a need to encourage international students to take greater ownership of their own career development. It is common for students to blame their universities if they failed to secure any forms of employment after graduation – blaming others rather than yourself is after all a part of human nature.

However, international students need to recognise that their career development started when they first began their overseas education, not after their graduation.

Employers often look at other skills and experiences offered by each potential candidate; and academic results only constitute a small percentage of this equation. Thus an excellent academic result alone does not guarantee future employment – you will need to build up your experience and employability skills during your studies.

But one of the most challenging aspects of my work is to encourage students to participate in career seminars and explore the opportunities to develop their employability skills. It is essential for students to recognise that employability skills take a significant amount of time to cultivate and education institutions will provide the necessary support for this process.

However, the truth is that the best career services are useless if the students are unaware of (or choose not to use) them in the first place. Remember, it takes two hands to clap – your education institutions want to help you but they need you to be proactive in the first place. Thus before blaming your institutions about your future career prospects, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you aware of the career services provided by your education institution?
  • Have you utilised any of these services?
  • Are you currently engaged with any forms of on-campus activities (such as volunteering at a student club)?
  • Are you confident enough to use your resume or curriculum vitae for a job application in Australia?
  • Are you able to address the key selection criteria of a job?
  • Are you generally aware of the workplace culture in Australia?

If you have answered “no” to any of the above questions, it is time for you to contact your career office and utilise its services. This will be the first step in taking ownership of your own career development.

Stay tuned for more wisdom from Danny about working in Australia as an international student.