III: Recommendations to develop practical resources for different stakeholders

Recommendations to develop practical resources for different stakeholders

Enhancing student transition experiences: The role of students in proactively building essential resources


The role of students in proactively building essential resources

Thanh Pham and Behnam Soltani


The previous chapters have mapped out key determinants of students’ transitions. This chapter aims to discuss how, when and where students should develop resources to overcome difficulties during their transitional phrases. The chapter focuses on discussing the role of students in building the resources and Chapter 12 will discuss the role of institutions.

Part I: Preparing essential forms of capital Human capital

Pursue a degree

Human capital relates to the technical knowledge and professional skills that students obtain during university study. These knowledge and skills are easy to measure, observe and quantify. Examples of hard currencies include: holding a particular degree or certificate, reading, mathematics, proficiency in a language, knowledge of specific laws or policies, typing, and using computer software packages. The labour market has become significantly competitive and more job opportunities have been given to people with a higher education degree. Although there is a need for students to articulate other resources, they should still consider completing a degree of significant importance so that they can use it as a tool to enter tertiary education or support their career journey.

In fact, human capital is often used to single candidates out for interview. However, students need to be mindful that the usefulness of qualifications varies depending on the disciplines and types of jobs they do. The Graduate Outcomes Survey in 2018

reported that 57.4% of undergraduates who were employed full-time felt that their qualification was ‘very important’ or ‘important’ for their current employment, as shown in Table 11.1. Part-time graduates were less likely to report that their qualification was ‘very important’ or ‘important’ for their current employment, with fewer than half of all employed graduates reporting that this was the case.

Postgraduate coursework graduates in 2018 continued to report a lower fit between their qualification and job than other study levels, as shown in Table 11.3, which is perhaps surprising given the general perception that postgraduate coursework studies are more vocationally oriented. For example, among full-time employees, only 46.5% of postgraduate coursework graduates stated their qualification was either ‘very important’ or ‘important’ for their current position, in comparison with 57.4% of undergraduates and 59.0% of postgraduate research graduates.

Develop professional skills

In addition to the degree(s), professional skills are crucially important. These skills are less tangible including good communication, active listening, teamwork, empathy, initiative, emotional intelligence, time management and organisational skills. Soft currencies need a long time to be built and they can be developed inside or outside of official curricula of schools and universities or employers’

TABLE 11.1 Importance of qualification for undergraduates’ current employment, 2018 (%)

Employed full-lime

Overall employed

Very important






Fairly important



Not that important



Not at all important






TABLE 11.2 Extent to which qualification prepared undergraduates for employment, 2018 (%)

Employed full-time

Overall employed

Very well






Not well



Not at all









TABLE 11.3 Importance of qualification for postgraduates’ current employment, 2018 (%)

Postgraduate coursework

Employed full-time

Overall employed

Very important






Fairly important



Not that important



Not at all important






Postgraduate research

Employed full-time

Overall employed

Very important






Fairly important



Not that important



Not at all important






firms. An important area of professional skills is practical and applicable experiences which can be gained from a range of activities and the most common is part-time work, which can provide students with various benefits as follows:

  • • Gives students access to potential referees
  • • Demonstrates reliability, time management and ‘trustworthiness’
  • • Increases intercultural knowledge and develops interpersonal skills (especially - speaking and listening)
  • • Working within a team builds skills such as cooperation, initiative, teamwork
  • • Provides students with the opportunity to meet and interact with a diverse range of people who become part of their social and professional networks
  • • Skill building: customer service, conflict resolution, money handling, computer and telephone skills.

However, students need to be wise when selecting their part-time work. To cover living costs and tuition fees, they could easily work in a part-time job without carefully considering how the work could support their life-project. Students do not often have the correct concepts about extra jobs and study, so spend too much time on extra jobs/activities which can lead to an overwhelming workload, impacting on their academic outcomes (i.e. grade dropping, course failing). Also, students do not pay enough attention to evaluating how relevant the part-time work is to their life-project or future careers. They tend to accept any part-time work available, but fail to build an impressive CV when applying for jobs because what they have done does not help them enrich expertise and skills in their specialisation area.

Students also need to be mindful that study programmes often have work-integrated learning, internship and placement programmes, but these programmes are organised in a short period (ranging from a few days to weeks), meaning that they have limited time and opportunities to leant real-world knowledge and apply their conceptual knowledge in real situations. They should, therefore, not entirely depend on these programmes but need to be proactive in finding other opportunities to enhance real-life knowledge and practices. Besides, limited understanding of industry culture could hinder students front being engaged in activities on placement and internship effectively. To achieve the best benefits front internship and placement programmes, they should seek information about the locations and activities held in their field work carefully so that they are well prepared and proactive in managing and designing what is worthwhile doing.

Doing volunteer work has been found as a useful way to build professional skills. Students often feel shy and reluctant to join volunteer activities but volunteering is a great way to build up their confidence and develop a range of skills like initiative, teamwork, intercultural competence, communication skills, cultural fit and techniques to navigate the labour market barriers. Participating in volunteer work also helps enlarge social networks and could open new opportunities for part-time work or connections with important stakeholders. There are many different ways to become involved in volunteering:

  • • Be ambassadors at institution, Faculty or School
  • • Clubs and societies
  • • Sporting organisations
  • • Local school and community groups
  • • Faith base - through local church, mosque or synagogue.

Students can also get involved via more formalised advertised roles within the community through the large non-profit sector. These roles are often advertised online and have agreed hours and working conditions. All volunteer roles by their very nature are non-paid. Local councils often run volunteering programmes and students can access them via local councils’ websites.

Build social capital

Social networks are very important for both school-to-work transitions and edu- cation-to-work transitions. Students should invest in developing and nurturing connections with the following key stakeholders:

Friends: It is important for students to build good relationships with a group of friends from whom they can seek support if necessary. However, they should not restrict themselves to some friends too much because having a strong bond with some people tends to drive them away from building new friendships when they enter a new setting.

  • Academics: Lecturers, professors and other stakeholders within universities who can help connect them to potential employers as a referee and an introductory person as well as broker significant knowledge about job openings, and what may be required to negotiate them. This enables them to socialise the hard currencies gained from formal study and improve their job market opportunities.
  • Ollier stakeholders: These are people they know at the place where students do volunteer or internships/placement (e.g. placement hosts, professionals, mentors). These people could help enlarge their social networks and help them obtain better insights about the working culture.
  • Career or counselling services: These services help tailor applications and introduce potential industries. It is also advised that students should develop and nurture connections and rational relationships with people working in the career services. These staff' can provide them with direct routes to potential industries.
  • Seek and develop connections with alumni: Mentoring arose as an important component in the transition from university to work. Mentorship is still not a common practice at universities. Students are, therefore, encouraged to be proactive in looking for previous students who have successfully graduated and secured employment to learn experiences.
  • • Target organisations they wish to work for and establish links with those of common interests.
  • • Use social media such as Linkedln, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram purposefully to build and develop professional identity, connect to people, post regularly, and take part in discussing what they are confident about.

Enriching cultural capital

Having limited understanding of the new setting often leads students to difficulties.

Hence, it is important for students to consider the points below:

  • • Learning the hidden rules and expectations of the new setting through participating in the organisation’s activities
  • • Interpreting the cultural script or constitution of the new place
  • • Understanding desired behavioural dispositions and competencies relevant to the desired roles
  • • Finding out acceptable cultural topics in daily talks and short conversations in the workplace
  • • Using appropriate language
  • • Learning about the values, mission, and vision of the organisation
  • • Watching all the videos, and other online materials produced by the organisation, getting to know the organisation’s focus areas, and what they could do to contribute to them.

Limitations in the above issues can lead to accidents when venturing into

different cultures without adequate preparation — i.e. asking ‘odd’ questions or looking ‘weird’. Such accidents could make students ‘lose face’, isolated and end up being depressed. Graduates may experience that industries are not looking for what is advertised on the website and find it hard to know what exactly they are looking for. In reality, some industries do not advertise all expectations explicitly. Hidden expectations of employers could be, for example, seen in recruitment policies which often have a clause saying that employers are not responsible for clarifying their reasons for recruiting.

Enhancing psychological capital

Transition to a new setting is often fraught with challenges. Therefore, it is beneficial if students look at their transition experience as a journey which is characterised by many ups and downs that they need to undergo. To have a more beneficial experience, it is recommended that students consider the following points:

  • • Develop a growth mindset. Take feedback onboard and use it in interactions with others, offer constructive feedback, be proactive, inclusive, and constantly think of strategies that could help better address the challenges at work.
  • • Practise resilience. The work environments are multicultural, multilingual, and people have different ways of doing work. It is, therefore, essential that students keep an open mind and learn to work with others despite their differences.
  • • Develop a problem seeking approach. It is important to understand the organisation needs, and what could more effectively support the organisation to achieve its goals further. Diagnosing the problems and thinking of ways to solve them could help the organisation to flourish.
  • • Focus on lifelong learning. Regard the new setting as a place where they could constantly engage in a learning opportunity and add to already existing knowledge, experience, and expertise.
  • • Reflect on practice. See what has gone well in work and not so well and what they could do next to make it better.

Looking at the transition experience as a process helps students not to be easily deterred by the barriers they face and regard it as a gradual process that requires a heightened degree of flexibility, patience and professionalism.

Enhance identity capital

Identity capital concerns the question of who I am and what is my relationship to the world of work. To establish connections to the world of work, the graduate strives to invest in the practices that are highly regarded in the profession he or she wishes to join in future. The more the graduate invests in practices of the desired profession and workplace including learning about its sociocultural norms, routines, regulations, policies, mission, and vision, the more strongly he or she develops a sense of belonging. Identity capital is discursively constructed and is evident in the narratives that graduates create for themselves including their CVs, e-portfolios and cover letters. Others also create narratives for the graduates, for example in recommendation letters or job references. Identity capital is the manifestation of other forms of capital which is performed in discourse. For example, it is through discourse and narrative that individuals show how invested they are in social, cultural, psychological or human capital. As graduates talk about their networks, for example, they directly address the employers’ needs of what kind of person they are and how socially invested they are, and whether they are fit for the job.

Enhancing identity capital is a gradual process and its development requires investment in the whole person. Identity capital is not a fixed trait because it is directly related to the changing conditions of the professions. Thus, anytime there are changes to the conditions governing a profession, the identities required to perform those conditions also change. To be able to perform career ready identities, hence, it is important that graduates constantly reflect on their own status in the world of work and strive hard to invest in the desired practices in a volatile and changing labour market.

Part II: Important advice for international students

Studying in a second language social space does not mean acquiring a set of linguistic rules per se but it is immersing oneself in a complex process of socialisation and identity construction which requires multiple literacies. This process involves peaks and valleys (Duff, 2003), happiness and sadness, confusions, tensions, conflicts, transformation and social change. To make their socialisation smoother, it is essential for international students to find buddies who can help them, and reach out for networks and social groups outside their immediate environments as discussed below.

  • • It is very important to extend networks and especially to find buddies who have already undertaken the courses they are enrolled in so that they obtain some insider perspectives as how best to deal with course requirements.
  • • In addition to finding buddies which could be quite effective for international students, they could also ask their instructors and other available student support groups, for example, International Office at their relevant institute, for advice. When students think about their problems and seek advice, they are more likely to come up with possible ways to overcome the problems.
  • • Instructors, support units and buddies are not the only people who could help international students. International students should talk to the accommodation centre in their relevant institutions, make them aware of their conditions in their apartments and report any inconvenience. Studying in a new social context is closely linked to one’s condition at home. It is the responsibility of the institutions to provide safe study places for high fee-paying international students.

• More than any other thing, being an international student is being a human. Study is part of life but we are all social beings. Therefore, it is important that international students join clubs such as film societies, sports and dance clubs, etc.

Implications for future international students

There are a few measures which would-be international students could take to make their journey less stressful for themselves. Some of these measures relate to their investments, preparations prior to coming, building imagined social spaces which are informed by evidence not wishful thinking, managing their social relations and finances. The following sections discuss some these points in more depth.

  • • Future international students should allow as much time as possible to leam the target language and culture prior to their departure. International students may have the misconception that by going abroad and entering an English- speaking country, they would quickly pick up the language. It is imperative that they allow themselves time to master the norms of their new social spaces to avoid failure.
  • • In addition, international students need to have the contacts of other international students and do research about the social space they want to enter prior to their departure. For example, they need to gather information about the weather, the city in which they wish to live, the people, their lifestyle, and read the news about the country, its society, politics and economy before entering that place. It is particularly beneficial to follow the news and other current affairs about that country to just obtain a flavour of what it is like to live in and study in that place. One way of doing this could be through social media such as Facebook.
  • • Apart from information about language, culture and social space, it is also useful to gather information in advance about the courses they want to take and try to find people who are willing to share information with them about the instructors, course contents, assignments, and examinations before taking a particular course.
  • • Learning in a new social context would make international students compare and contrast social spaces. Thus, it would be best if would-be international students talk to the current international students and try to make a more effective use of their time if they want their future experience to be more fruitful.
  • • Linguistic abilities are essential for timely participation in the classroom. International students may need time to construct their thoughts into sentences particularly in their early stages of language learning when they enter the new academic social space. For example, international students in Soltani’s (2015) study needed to spend more time in their EAP courses so that they develop a better grasp of English abilities which would enable them to participate more strongly in their university mainstream courses.
  • • International students may find communicating with the local students and the wider society very difficult. One of the reasons causing difficulties in building relationship with local students is that local students do not often have much time because most of them have part-time work as well.
  • • Besides disparity in purposes between international students and local students, international students often think that locals in the wider society are polite but probably not so friendly. This stands in sharp contrast with the kind of relations they could establish with people and friends in their home countries.
  • • Due to their inability to connect well with local students, international students often form study groups with other international students. They, for example, believe they are able to understand themselves better and achieve more if they are grouped with other international fellows rather than with the local students, although they admit that being grouped together with local students may eventually help them more but for the purposes of completing the assignment, it is more beneficial to engage in more meaningful interactions with other international students.
  • • When international students reflect on their interactions with the locals and other international students, they often have changing perspectives. Some students think that grammar is the reason they are not able to communicate well with others but later on they realise that besides grammar they have other literacies to master so that they can engage with others more effectively.
  • • Students in Soltani’s (2015) study used Skype to talk to their families and friends about their problems (see Ho, Holmes & Cooper, 2004). Families were influential in supporting and inspiring international students. However, at times they could not always give the right advice to them regarding their courses because they were not familiar with the rules of the game in the international students’ new social space. However, the more experienced peers happened to be a better source of inspiration and support for international students. Therefore, international students could use people diplomatically to achieve their socio-academic goals.
  • • Studying in an academic social space is not about study and relations with others alone. Living in a new social space for international students is expensive. Usually there are hidden costs as well which do not appear necessarily in educational institutes’ websites and international students only face them when they come to such places. Since the costs in the host country are very high, international students are often stressed that their families would be pressured if they are not able to pass their courses. This doubles their efforts and needless to say cause them a lot of worries, nightmares and concerns.

The importance of communication skills

Language proficiency has been found to be a factor heavily influencing the entrance of international students to the field because employers often have a preference towards verbal communication. International students are expected to improve various aspects of communication skills not limited to oral language communication alone. These aspects are captured by Celce-Murcia, Dornyei and Thurrell (1995) as linguistic or grammatical (capacity to speak and write), discourse (capacity to speak and write in a suitable context), actional (capacity to convey communicative intent), sociocultural (capacity to use culturally appropriate language) and strategic (capacity to learn the language in the context). When communicating with employers, communication skills need to be expressed in:

  • Written communication skills: Including the ability to correspond in emails, letters and reports in a concise and clear manner. It is more than the ability to write in English. It is about producing written material that is appropriate for the task and easy to read (grammar, tone and context are important). When applying for jobs, written skills are shown in exchanging emails with potential employers, preparing applications, addressing the key selection criteria and tailoring resumes and cover letters. To have better insights about candidates, employers are increasingly interested in checking candidates’ social media profiles. What is expressed and written on media can provide employers with additional insight into the writing capacities of candidates.
  • Listening skills: The ability to actively listen to and confidently contribute to conversations in the workplace both socially and work related.
  • Oral skills: Social ‘water cooler’ conversations are the informal workplace conversations about oneself and family with work colleagues. People love to talk about the weather, sport, food, fashion, TV, music and workplace gossip. Participating in social conversation is important in building team dynamics and can help advance international students’ career outlooks. Work related communication includes telephone and customer service skills, interaction with superiors and team members, communicating in meetings and team related activities.
  • Non-verbal communication: This includes body language like eye contact, posture, personal space, shaking hands, clothes and eating and drinking habits.

Strategies to improve communication skills

The most important strategy is to find opportunities to interact with other people. International students should be strategic so that they can feel comfortable in all types of communication and achieve the best benefits from any interaction. For instance, international students often feel shy when communicating with local peers if their English is inadequate. They should, therefore, seek opportunities to interact with people from similar-ethnic communities first. Once they feel more comfortable, they could expand their contacts and communication with local people.

It is noted that international students tend to think that improving communication skills means enhancing oral communication skills alone. This approach has been found to have various limitations because research has shown that understanding local culture and working culture of industries have a close connection to communication proficiency (Pham, 2021). When international students have a good understanding of local culture (e.g., familiarity with small talk at the workplace), their confidence improves, and communication becomes more fluent. It is therefore strongly recommended that international students should explore and enrich their local culture while studying in the host country.

Finally, evidence has also been found that efforts which international students use to enhance communication competence are determined by various factors including how and where they plan to develop their career and what they value as worthwhile striving for. There is an interplay between career intentions and efforts they make towards improving communication competence (Pham, 2020). International students should hence start thinking and planning their career journey as early as possible so that they could make use of upcoming opportunities, and make worthwhile investments in mastering the language and enriching their local cultural understanding. The importance of continually developing English is vital in giving international students the edge when looking for and applying for work. The whole application process often assesses their ability to communicate effectively through various steps and different methods, ranging from direct/indirect and fomial/informal communication.

Lack of understanding of local working culture

It has been found that employers and working supervisors note the challenges often

facing international students are as follows:

  • • Unfamiliarity with the host culture, work practices, and expectations of different professions
  • • Insufficient understanding of the expected conduct, behaviours, nonns and values endemic to the professional setting - such as expectations of employers, established workplace processes, and the hierarchical structure
  • • Unfamiliarity with local jargon, undertaking activities and tasks that were considered taboo or culturally inappropriate in their own culture
  • • Unfamiliarity with the gendered talk and how men and women negotiate their professional identities at work
  • • Insufficient understanding of management hierarchy and organisational structures.

Two sides of holding permanent residence

Working towards obtaining pennanent residence (PR) could either support or hinder employability of international students. It has been widely agreed that holding PR can help with the process of looking for jobs. However, working on obtaining PR may also have a negative influence on employment outcomes, as it could interrupt career progression of international students. This is because when international students target PR as the only goal of going overseas, they tend to prefer courses that allocate extra points for the PR application process. They may not have any background or intrinsic motivation for the course and are at risk of failing or achieving poor learning outcomes. Some international students keep changing their study pathways according to changes in the PR policy and end up wasting time and money, not completing any degree, and facing continuous employment struggles. International students should also be mindful that having PR does not guarantee jobs. This is a significant message because many tend to have an assumption that having PR guarantees employment.

Be mindful of recent changes in the labour market

Recent trends in international education and the global labour market deliver important messages for international students. The first trend is that the concept of study-then-stay, commonly applied by international students, is shifting. An increasing number of international students are choosing host countries for higher education but not necessarily for their career development. Gomes (2017) found that many skilled workers including migrants and international graduates wanted to obtain PR in Australia but did not want to stay in the country. In fact, data from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Australia reveals that half of all new permanent residents leave Australia within five years of receiving their permanent visa (Gomes, 2017). When international graduates leave the host country, they may struggle to apply the knowledge and skills obtained overseas because other labour markets (i.e., home country or a third country) often have different expectations and requirements. Therefore, international students should have a plan about where they want to stay and develop their career for a long term, then develop strategies to update their knowledge and skills relevant to their future career plan. If international students return to their home country, they should:

  • • Be aware that many multinational companies have branches all over the world and are looking for candidates with a wide range of skills including English language proficiency. These corporations have a global mindset and value locally bom, overseas-educated students. Investigate the entry requirements and recruitment cycle in their own region and do not forget to apply back home for that dream role or internship.
  • • Follow what is going on in their sector - read local websites, join local professional associations and keep themselves informed about the economic and political activities in region.
  • • Research potential employers and the local recruitment cycle and application process.
  • • Target multinational or the host country’s companies in their region that are looking for bilingual staff with a global perspective and apply for graduate programmess or vocational or internship opportunities.
  • • Find out what skills and attributes are valued by recruiters in their region and work towards building those into their resume.
  • • Create a region-specific resume in their own language and in English for multinationals (have it checked by someone back home).
  • • Join and participate in events with their Australian alumni network - sign up to be a part of their local institution’s chapter.
  • • Use Linkedln and social media and promote their unique personal brand - remember to promote their bilingual /bicultural advantage. Reconnect with their country networks.

Part III: Map out 'what' at each stage in school and university First year: plan, explore and gain insights

Having a plan has a significant impact on efforts and strategies that students develop and utilise to negotiate their possible destinations. Students should therefore carefully consider what would be their next destination. As discussed above, completing a degree does not guarantee a job. Having good insights about intentions helps students target how to build social networks and enrich a cultural understanding of the new place. First-year students at universities should be active in expanding social networks with stakeholders and industries. Students should also attend career fairs and industry information and career planning sessions hosted by universities, ask questions of recruiters, recent graduates, interns, career counsellors and friends and begin building up an understanding of what skills and attributes they will need for the career they want. Student should also find out what skills and attributes companies are looking for and start developing those skills.

For international students, if they want to return to their home country, they should keep in touch with friends and keep themselves updated about their home labour market. Recently, the economic development of developing countries, especially those in Asia, has been brought to mobility as a flow no longer only from underdeveloped and developing countries to developed countries but also increasingly vice versa, creating what is called ‘reverse mobility’. This is a phenomenon characterised as students coming out of underdeveloped or developing countries to study in developed countries, and then coming back to their home countries. It is noted that in many countries, local networks are crucially important for the transitions into work and career. If returnees are not well connected locally, their career development journey would be, to some extent, affected. Developing and maintaining social networks are, therefore, important to employment opportunities if they plan to return to their home country after graduation. An increasing number of international students plan to go to a third country for employment after completing their studies in Australia, with an aim to enrich living and working experiences in various cultures. If they have this plan, they should invest in exploring and building connections with friends and other stakeholders in the third country. The rational relationships could give them tips to navigate the local labour market.

Where to do workplace/internship and exchange programmes?

Australian universities have been equipping students with industry and applicable knowledge through work-integrated learning (WIL) programmes (e.g. placement, internship). The benefits of these programmes obviously include:

  • • Enhancing students’ employability to build a set of ‘real world’ skills
  • • Enhancing a wide range of non-technical skills including reasoning skills, maturity, emotional intelligence, and team-building, negotiation, communication and interpersonal skills
  • • Enabling students to learn in their disciplines more effectively because they could become more critical with their learning based on problem solving and analysing skills obtained in the real world

Under the Fair Work Act, work experience generally needs to be paid, except where it is voluntary work with a not-for-profit organisation or part of students’ course (a ‘vocational placement’, as defined in the Fair Work Act) — that is, a work placement embedded into the course. To learn more visit: www.fairwork.gov.au/ Pay/Unpaid-work/work-experience-and-intemships

It is noted that gaining insights about the labour market and developing social networks with people in the target industry are important for future employment opportunities. Students should, therefore, be strategic in planning where they should locate placements and internships as these programmes are excellent opportunities to explore the target industry. If they plan to develop careers overseas, they should consider doing some programmes overseas so that they can obtain insights before graduation. Some options are:

  • • Overseas internship and placement programmes are becoming increasingly popular because they provide a variety of skills which are highly valued by employers. The application process takes time and there will be set criteria, which students will need to meet in order to qualify.
  • • Consider a study abroad programme. If students wish to attend a non-partner institution, they can go on a self-funded study abroad semester or short-term programme.

To find out more about global study and work placement opportunities:

  • • Seek advice from the Placement Office of each faculty and school
  • • Visit the Global Mobility office on campus
  • • Research partner universities and subjects online
  • • Attend information sessions and apply
  • • Apply for possible study grants (if applicable)
  • • Ask questions - returnees, lecturers and course advisers

The second and third years: build career portfolio, gain experience and expand networks

Graduate portfolios, profiles and records of achievement represent a collection of student work supporting and evidencing professional skills. According to Tomlinson (2017), it is important for students and graduates to articulate a personal narrative drawing on their narratives so that they can show their identity. Institutions and industries are, therefore, often interested in checking one’s career portfolio so that they can see the candidate’s identity. Career portfolio may include work experience, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, resume writing, interview skills, job fairs, joining professional associations or participating in a global mobility experience. Upon graduation, students will be able to draw on their career portfolio when seeking graduate employment opportunities. Having a portfolio can showcase to employers an applicant’s experiences and evidence of outcomes. Research has found students improved employability outcomes through portfolio adoption (von Konsky & Oliver, 2012). This practice might be a challenge to international students as building a career portfolio is still a new practice in many countries.

Get familiar with the recruitment cycle

Students should become familiar with the recruitment cycle in the sector they wish to work in. It is important to know what major companies in the target sector are recruiting and what particular skills they are looking for. Recruiters expect students to know about their organisation. During the application process, they are often asked about what they know about the company and how their skills will fit into the role and the corporate culture. Hence, it is important that students are strategic and only target companies that suit their plans and skill set. It is advisable that they should not apply for hundreds of jobs online. Always tailoring resume and cover letter to suit each job is a worthwhile practice. Thus, they should take time and undertake proper research before applying (Gribble, 2014).

Final year: start applying for work

In the final year, it is time to start using all research and planning and apply for work. It is important to realise that a new graduate may work in a variety of fields before finding the right fit. When seeking a job, students should:

  • • Do research
  • • Be open to opportunities. Be flexible as many jobs start out as short-term contracts or casual positions
  • • Manage expectations

• Be willing to start at the bottom and work way up

Graduate programmes

Graduate roles are structured professional development programmes designed specifically for university graduates. These programmes are traditionally offered in the corporate and government sectors in Australia to top tier students. These full-time positions provide rotations in key areas of the business over a set period of time (usually two years). Graduate programmes offer structured training and support, feedback, and ongoing employment opportunities. Entry requirements into graduate programmes vary and are highly competitive. It is important to research eligibility when considering applying for a graduate role in Australia.

The labour market has become very competitive. Large companies often select the best graduates from the pool of applicants. It is, therefore, advised that new graduates should start their career in a small-to-medium size business. There are many opportunities for students wishing to launch their careers within small-to- medium businesses. Entry-level positions are less competitive than graduate programmes and have fewer restrictions in terms of visa requirements and language proficiency (Gribble, 2014). Benefits of working in a small-to-medium size business include:

  • • Students can learn how businesses work and are given more opportunities to leam real-life practices.
  • • New graduates have better chance to succeed in small organisations
  • • Graduates could be given better opportunities to apply for a position in small businesses.


  • 1. What are the most common activities that you have used to improve your forms of capital?
  • 2. What are other activities that are not mentioned in this chapter but you have used to enhance your forms of capital?
  • 3. Which capital do you think you are most and least confident with?
  • 4. Chapter 2 discusses agentic capital. Share some experiences that you have used these activities to develop your agentic capital.


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Duff, P. (2003). New directions in second language socialization research. Korean Journal of English Language anti Linguistics, 3, 309-339.

Gomes, C. (2017). Transient mobility and middle-class identity: Media and migration in Australia and Singapore. Springer: Singapore.

Gribble, C. (2014). Enhancing the employability of international graduates: A guide for Australian education providers. Retrieved from www.ieaa.org.au/documents/item/547 on August 20, 2020.

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