Who Do You Want To Be?

Let's analyse two cases that will better illustrate the situation of many international students in Australia.

David is an international student who came to Australia enrolled in a Certificate IV of Business. Soon after his arrival, he got a job in a factory, was having a great time surfing, and enjoyed a fantastic lifestyle. However, after a few months, David realised his visa would expire soon and that it was time to make decisions. Maria, a classmate, suggested David to research more about university degree options, as it was something she wanted to do.

David didn't want to do research himself, arguing he was too busy working and studying. He contacted his student agency to research different options, including a university degree. The student agency showed David some possibilities for a bachelor's degree, but the initial costs freaked him out. He didn't want to do any calculations because in his mind it was too expensive. In addition to that, David loved to go out with his new friends. They went surfing every weekend. He had dreams of visiting the Barrier Reef, the Gold Coast, Thailand, and Indonesia! He knows that it would be impossible to keep his lifestyle if he decided to pursue a university degree, this is because he had met a few people enrolled at university, and they were always studying. David said to himself, "I came here for a change. I feel free. The last thing I want is to fall back into a challenging routine".

David really loved Australia and didn't want to go back to his home country. Deep inside, he dreamed about living here permanently.

As he started to analyse the possibilities for his next visa, it became clear that going back was not an option he wanted. However, a bachelor's degree was also not an option as it was too expensive and a massive compromise to his lifestyle. Most of his classmates were about to enrol in a Diploma of Business, so finally David decided to go with the flow and also enrol in the same course.

Four years passed and David started to put things into perspective, wondering about his real chances of staying permanently. He didn't want to work in the factory anymore. He wanted more than that. David wanted his dream back, which was to be able to stay in Australia permanently with security, not always waiting for the next visa to expire.

Something needed to change. When looking at his options, David realised he might be running out of time. His options were to renew his visa one more time, look for a company that would be willing to sponsor him, or enrol at university via UniPathway. But university was still very expensive in his mind, even though in the last four years he had been travelling all around Australia and Asia. Meanwhile, his latest visa was about to expire, and he felt the pressure to decide what to do next.

Now, let's look at Maria, his classmate.

They were both enrolled in a Certificate IV of Business but unlike David, after a few months in Australia, she started researching what would come next if she continued down the Certificate IV path, and also what she could do if she didn't want to study Business anymore.

After a few weeks thinking and analysing all the possibilities, Maria concluded that it would only be worth the time, money, and effort if she finished with a bachelor's degree and had real professional experience in Australia. She knew that if everything went different from what she planned, at least she would leave Australia with a great education as well as professional business experience, and these two things would be wins for her.

Maria made the decision to pursue a bachelor's degree. Her classmates said she'd need to save tremendous amounts of money and say goodbye to her lifestyle, trips, weekends, and more, but Maria already knew she'd have to make changes; to get something better in life, she needed to compromise in the early stages.

Focused on her goals, Maria researched more about university options, courses, costs, and all aspects of a university student's life. She realised that universities were indeed very expensive and most bachelor's degree courses were five years long, which would make it almost impossible for her to pay. Maria got frustrated at first, but didn't give up searching until she found a more affordable two-year bachelor's degree. Maria was very excited; a two-year bachelor's degree could be achievable! She started making all sorts of calculations to have a realistic budget. She compromised on almost everything until she could afford it. After a few months, she started her two-year degree.

Obviously, Maria didn't have any money to travel on weekends and to enjoy many things. In addition to that, she didn't have time, because she was working casual jobs all weekend long. "Focus on the big picture", she was telling herself.

After one year at university, she decided it was time to find an internship. Maria initially felt insecure and had many fears like everybody else, but she gave it a shot anyway. After hearing "no" many times, Maria eventually got an internship offer.

In Maria's early research, she'd read about a visa for international students who graduated from a university in Australia. Six months before her graduation, she did more research and found she was eligible to apply for a Temporary Graduate visa. She finally started seeing the results of her hard work. Maria would be able to work full-time in Australia for at least 18 months. She graduated from university in two years as planned, and then applied for the Graduate Temporary visa, which was granted to her for 24 months. She found a job four months after graduation (and several unsuccessful applications), then six months before her visa expired Maria received some great news — her employer was very happy with the work she'd been doing and offered her a sponsorship.

Maria is now looking forward to growing professionally and, of course, to her well deserved permanent residence in the future.

To summarise; Maria had been in Australia four years doing absolutely everything right, and even though nothing is guaranteed in life, she's on the path to a very successful career. The two things she knows with certainty is who she is and what she is capable of accomplishing. You might be wondering what happened to David. He ended up studying for six more months and then went back to his home country.

What is essential for you in these two cases is the difference in David's and Maria's attitude, which resulted in different outcomes.

What we need to understand is that Maria didn't get where she is right now because of luck. She had a strategy from the beginning. Her goal was to finish a university degree because she knew that this alone would give her incredible benefits anywhere in the world. She was never afraid of looking for answers, and she always got reliable information. She never relied on other people's opinion to make decisions. She listened to everyone, but ultimately she made the decisions. She took control of her life. She compromised at the right time and most importantly, she was accountable for her choices.

Maria had set backs, but she fought every time until she got what she wanted. That's the mindset of a successful person.

It doesn't matter if you feel that you are in a situation similar to David. You can change it. Your life can change in a moment whether by external circumstances or by simply believing in yourself. You can decide if you are going to let situations define your life or if you are going to take control of your future right now.

Excerpt from "The International Student's Blueprint: Your Strategy for Success in Australia" by Vanessa Sebben, the founder of VS Strategy, a company committed to assisting international students and skilled professionals to develop strategies to progress their careers in Australia, and ultimately find their dream job.