If you’re studying in Australia, you’ll want to make sure you build the skills for a successful career when you graduate. So how can you get the most out of all the opportunities university life offers?
As top prize winners at the 2017 Victorian International Education Awards, international students Su Htet Zaw from Myanmar and Chi Le from Vietnam are well-placed to share their advice. Hear how they’ve added value to their careers while studying at La Trobe University.
1. Develop essential career skills through volunteering
Volunteering is a valuable way to meet fellow students and get a feel for your new neighbourhood. It’s also an effective way to prepare for your career in an international workplace.
“Participate in volunteering activities and clubs, because these extracurricular activities can really enhance your interpersonal, time management, communication and leadership skills,” Su says.
“My volunteering started as an international host at La Trobe International. From this very first experience I got lots of support, such as leadership skills training and being nominated to attend the Melbourne International Student Conference. I also got lots of friends, self-confidence and networking skills. I am convinced that these transferable skills will be an asset to my research and professional career.”
For Chi, contributing to the university community is an important way to break through cultural barriers, build relationships and network successfully. She’s gained firsthand experience in bringing diverse students together by volunteering as a leader of La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga International Connect Club.
“It’s brought me skills in engaging people in activities to make the best out of their Australian studying experience, and skills in leadership, networking and multicultural communication,” she says.
2. Tap into high-quality teaching
Studying in a new culture is not without its challenges. It can take time to adjust to the style of lectures and tutorials – not to mention the Australian accent – and to develop your skills in independent learning, problem solving and confident communication.
Su and Chi recommend introducing yourself to your tutors, lecturers, and subject and course coordinators. As dedicated teaching staff, they’ll not only support and inspire you, but can also give you advice if you’re facing academic issues.
“All of the lecturers I have learned from are supportive and professional and have a strong passion and commitment to teaching. They’ve showed me how to be a self-directed learner and research scholar by giving me motivation and expert guidance throughout my study,” says Su.
Chi, who is completing her PhD in Environmental Management, says having the support of expert supervisors has brought her a step closer to achieving a major career goal.
“Becoming a scientist and a professor at a university has been my professional goal since my Bachelor’s degree. La Trobe provides me with an international qualification and the skills to overcome challenges – not only in research, but also in communication and social involvement,” she says.
“I have learnt from my supervisors how a research hypothesis should be tested and modified, how to disseminate knowledge, how to stimulate critical thinking, and how to give students space for independent ideas. I have also learnt skills from my peers and seniors at Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, like how to deliver efficient and interesting academic presentations.”
3. Gain an international perspective of your industry
In an increasingly globalised world, being able to apply international perspectives and think outside your local context is essential. Studying in Australia opens you to new expert opinions that you can apply to your industry.
For Su, studying at La Trobe is chance to deepen her understanding of different education systems. She is completing a Masters of Educational Leadership and Management and hopes to use her knowledge to improve education in Myanmar.
“I decided to study overseas as I wanted to get to know the different perspectives of experts and gain in-depth knowledge of my research interest. I also wanted to communicate and learn with educators from different countries, by sharing our respective education systems. This international experience will be really beneficial for me in contributing to the welfare of my country’s education system as a teacher educator,” she says.
As Su and Chi have shown, studying in Australia is more than just the course you choose. Being involved in activities on-campus and out in the community will help you build professional connections and have positive social experiences. In turn, you’ll boost your confidence, wellbeing and resilience and learn more about Australian culture.
“Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to make a difference. Talk to other people, make friends, volunteer and contribute your help to the community. It will help you define yourself in your new environment and show other people your value as an international student,” says Chi.
Keen to study in Australia? Discover how La Trobe University can boost your career.