5 Things to Remember as an International Student

When an International Student lands in a foreign country, there are so many exciting things awaiting them on this new journey including, exploring the new country/city, trying new foods, making friends, settling into school and finding a job.

I, too am an International student who was anxious about my move and how I would manage all these areas of life. In particular, finding a job was very outside my comfort zone. You may look for a co-op position, a part-time job, and your dream job all in a span of just a few years. The good news is, Canada has so many opportunities.

According to the Canadian Bureau of International Education, 530,540 international students are studying in Canada from 2020-2021. With so many talented students in Canada, it can be intimidating to imagine yourself succeeding in this group. I myself have faced rejection and loneliness in this journey. I understand the emotional toll this can take on an individual. To combat this, I’ve compiled a list of 5 things that I keep in mind to stay motivated through the process. Keep reading to learn more!

Consider your International Student advantage 

We, international students, are hesitant, concerned, and perplexed when dealing with new people around us. It does not mean that we lack confidence, we just need a push and some encouragement to settle into our new surroundings. 

  • Believe in yourself – Be confident in who you are. Be proud that you have dared to come out of your comfort zone to achieve your dreams. Reminding myself about this boosted my self-esteem.
  • Use unique skills – As an international student, there are specific skills required to move to a new country. These include resiliency, adaptability, and curiosity. Use your move to demonstrate these soft skills in your personal relationships and professional career.
  • Share your (previous) working experience – Although it may feel like you’re starting from scratch, think about how you can use your education and experiences at home in Canada. It may require some different ways to communicate these experiences, according to Canadian standards, but they are worth sharing. You don’t have to erase your past!

Start early

It’s important to be job-ready. If an opportunity knocks on your door, you will be ready and confident to follow up. I cannot emphasize the difference it makes to do a deep dive into career development before you start applying for jobs. It may seem like a low priority now, but it makes all the difference when you are close to graduation. Add career development into your schedule as soon as you can. Here are some things to think about.

  • Develop short-term and long-term career goals
  • Research your desired industry and employers
  • Start filtering and assessing your skills (hard and soft)
  • Measure your resume and cover letter against Canadian standards
  • Participate in events and networking opportunities

Understand the (hidden) job market

Everyone has access to job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc., which doesn’t help the high competition that international students face in getting a job. On the flip side, 80% of jobs are even posted on these websites. Jobs are more often offered through recommendations and connections. This is important to keep in mind to:

  1. Not feel down about potentially not making it through an application process when applying online
  2. Adapt your job search strategy to meet the need of the hidden job market

Over the past year, I’ve truly discovered the importance of networking and how it relates to both my learning and my job search. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean connecting with professionals (although this helps). It can also mean reaching out to your alumni, friends, university/college clubs, colleagues and more. Anyone can potentially help you get a job.  

Build a full portfolio

My journey as an international student in Canada has been so much more than work and school. I’ve learned good grades don’t equal good jobs. To really stand you, you’ll need to build a compelling personal brand and build a full portfolio. Your portfolio can include your personal passion projects, additional certifications, volunteer achievements, social media presence and/or your website.

You can use online software like Canva, WordPress, etc., which are free of cost and easy to work with. There are also so many helpful tutorials on YouTube to get you started.  

Make connections

Professional Network – As mentioned, networking is essential in securing employment opportunities. Remember networking isn’t just about starting a conversation, you have to continue to maintain that relationship. Meeting professionals in my industry has helped me learn more about the sector, my career journey, and opened my eyes to opportunities that I wasn’t aware of previously.

Community of Peers – As international students, we come from very different backgrounds and experiences. We have so much to learn from each other. Appreciate and encourage peers to do better. Try to maintain healthy relationships and competition with your colleagues and peers. There are so many of us on the journey together. Why not make it a positive experience for everyone?

To conclude, finding a job is important but not more than learning and exploring your abilities and potential. Life in Canada offers more than just a job and career. Invest in your development. Mistakes may certainly happen, but remind yourself of your initial excitement when moving to Canada and the possibilities that awaited you. It is worth it!

We are happy to give a shout-out to Pooja Palkar who wrote this piece as a reminder to all international students to keep going!

She is currently pursuing a Public Relations and Corporate Communications graduate certificate at Fanshaw College in London, Ontario.

-The Devant Team

As always, the Devant team is here to support you in each stage. If you’re ready to take the first step, check out our PLAN, PREP, ACTION process.


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Contact Us

If you’d like to ask a question about something you’ve read here, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Director, Operations & Client Experience, Sejal Ahir at sejal.ahir@devant.ca or by phone at 1 (647) 781-2945.