Ask LH: How Can I Find My First Job In Australia?

Hello Lifehacker, I'm an international student here in Australia — I only arrived a few months ago. My family isn't poor, but they're aren't rich, either, and while I know they can financially support me for years, it's only in a scenario where things go smoothly. So I want to reduce the amount of money they need to send to me to only my fees. What I want to know is what are the ways to find a job?

I have no experience since I've just started studying, and back in my country students aren't allowed to take part-time jobs. How should I go about this? Any tips? Thanks, Troubled Outsider

Job search picture from Shutterstock

Dear TO,

The first thing you need to do is check whether your student visa allows you to work in Australia — this probably won't be an issue, but it's best to be sure. You'll also need to get a tax file number. Once that's sorted, finding part-time work shouldn't be too difficult; especially if your university and/or apartment is located in a metropolitan area.

Some popular job search websites in Australia are Career One, Seek, Australian Jobsearch and Now Hiring. Each of these sites has a pull-down menu that makes it easy to refine your search and find suitable jobs in your area. Naturally, you should also check the listings in your local newspaper and apply to anything that catches your eye.

Presumably, you're going to want a job with flexible hours that isn't too mentally demanding — it's just a way to pay the bills, not a long-term career. In Australia, hospitality, retail, hotel reception and supermarket packing are all tailored to the student lifestyle. Previous experience is preferred, but not essential.

Would you consider working nights? When I was studying full-time at the University of Western Sydney I worked the graveyard shift at the Log Cabin Motel (which has since burned to the ground, sadly). I found this job to be ideal. It left me free to attend classes during the day and also gave me time to study during the frequent quiet spells. On the downside, you need to be good at managing your sleeping patterns (you can find plenty of advice on the topic here.)

Some universities advertise onsite jobs on the campus notice-board or through their website; this is especially handy if you happen to live on campus. You can also seek employment advice from your school's international student support staff.

Whatever job you apply for, it pays to be aware of your rights and entitlements while working in Australia. Like most developed countries, Australia has a national minimum wage (currently $20.30 per hour for adults working casually). You're also legally required to break and rest periods and a safe working environment. You can find out more about your entitlements at the Fairwork Ombudsman website.

On a final note, don't be turned off by a bit of rejection: if you apply for a job and it doesn't work out, just dust yourself off and try again somewhere else. As long as you keep persevering, you'll get hired eventually. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.


    International students are restricted to working 20 hours per week but only need a standard student visa, with no experience you are looking at service industry jobs like retail-convenience stores/supermarkets/petrol stations and food service-fast food outlets/kitchen hand etc.

    These are not great jobs, but with no experience or references they are realistically what you should apply for.

    As mentioned in the story I think the best place to start is in the uni itself. Bigger uni's often have employment assistance staff who will help you find a job inside the uni or with partners. At the very least they will be able to help you get a resume sorted and give some guidance as to what is usually available locally.

    Also, don't discount the old school approach of printing a bunch of resumes and going around local businesses trying to get a face to face meeting with the manager, I've done this a few times and generally got a job after 1-2 days of pavement pounding.

    I work in telco and 3/4 of the people i work with are international students. it's a great industry for students as it's pretty flexable

    There are special "bank branches" call migration centers. They can help you with literally anything you need, including vocational work.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now