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Navigating early career success as an international student with Lara Collins

Hannah Johnston

Nov 1, 2023
min read

Hatch recently sat down with community member Lara Collins who landed a role through Hatch to learn more about her early career story.

Navigating challenges as international students or visa holders seeking employment in Australia can be daunting. That’s why Hatch community member Lara Collins was eager to share her experience with the community and her best tips. This write-up delves into Lara’s early career days, till now and what she has learned along the way. 

Tell us about your early career journey. 

Lara: My early career journey began with my first job at Ben and Jerry's in my hometown in the USA. I initially worked in community management, which involved engaging with people, understanding their concerns, and problem-solving. However, I realised that I was more drawn to the strategic aspects of the job rather than the operational ones. About halfway through my two-year stint at Ben and Jerry's, I had the opportunity to work on an innovation project, and I ended up covering for a colleague on maternity leave.

This role involved launching new ice cream flavours and delving into the world of branding and strategic marketing. I fell in love with these aspects and decided to pursue further education to enhance my understanding of processes and strategy. I decided to go for my master's degree and ultimately chose to study in Australia, at the University of Sydney. My journey has been quite nonlinear, and I didn't have a clear career path in mind when I started. I only applied to study in Australia to do my MBA and made the move from the USA. 

Lara's first week in Sydney

How was your experience pursuing an MBA in Australia, and how did it lead to your involvement with Hatch?

Lara: The MBA experience was enlightening. Initially, I expected it to be more high-level and theoretical, providing a broad understanding of business concepts. However, it turned out to be quite different, more geared towards providing a foundational understanding of the subjects discussed in real-world business meetings. It was during my MBA program that I had the opportunity to hear Adam, the founder of Hatch speak and learn about Hatch.

I immediately decided to apply and landed a job at Perpetual In HR through Hatch. This was my first Australian working experience, and it allowed me to apply what I was learning in my MBA to real-world situations, make valuable connections, and gain networking opportunities. Hatch also provided me with the chance to explore different areas without making long-term commitments, which was incredibly beneficial for my career development.

Lara during her MBA at the University of Sydney

Could you share how your career continued after your experience with Hatch and Perpetual In HR?

Lara: After my stint at Perpetual In HR, I applied to work at Qantas. I have a strong passion for aviation, and I was thrilled to find a role at Qantas, one of my favourite airlines. I went through the interview process and secured the job, but it was an unusual start because my manager left during my first week. This led to me working with multiple teams simultaneously, which was challenging at first. However, I soon fell in love with the work and found it to be one of my best experiences. Working at Qantas provided me with the opportunity to learn and grow, and it wouldn't have been possible without the foundation I built through Hatch.

I was a top contender for a full-time role at Qantas however, due to sponsorship issues, they couldn’t proceed right before issuing the formal offer. This was a blessing in disguise, as shortly after, Qantas laid off 20,000 employees due to the pandemic. I had another job offer waiting at HelloFresh which I took on. While I learned a lot, it ended up not being the right position for me. I shifted industries after six months to head back into the world of social media, brand and marketing. I then had an opportunity to work at Bumble in a community management role. Bumble was a fantastic experience, but I realised that if I wanted to focus on brand, I needed to explore opportunities in that field. So I started applying exclusively for brand jobs and eventually landed a role as an employer brand consultant at PwC.

Lara during her role at Qantas

Can you share more about your role as an employer brand consultant at PwC?

Lara: In my role as an employer brand consultant at PwC, I work with the consulting line of service, directly advising them on how to present PwC in the market. The primary goal of an employer brand consultant is to market the company to potential candidates, similar to how a company markets its products to customers. This involves highlighting the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and PwC's unique offerings to prospective employees.

The role also entails running talent campaigns, collaborating closely with the talent acquisition team, and engaging in non-traditional recruitment methods. For example, my team works on LinkedIn campaigns, TikTok campaigns, and other marketing strategies to attract and engage potential talent. In essence, the focus is on showcasing why someone should choose PwC as their employer. This role is pivotal, especially in a candidate-driven job market, where companies must actively demonstrate why they are a great place to work.

Lara with her colleagues at PwC

How can candidates effectively navigate challenges as international students or visa holders when seeking employment opportunities in Australia?

Lara: Navigating challenges as international students or visa holders seeking employment in Australia can indeed be daunting. Here are some strategies that can help:

Choose global companies: Look for companies that actively hire global talent and have experience with sponsorship and visa options. Global companies are often more open to hiring international candidates.

Networking: Leverage your network and seek out mutual connections who can provide references or recommendations. This can help address concerns about your experience or background.

Student visa opportunities: If you're on a student visa, explore opportunities to work part-time (up to 20 hours a week during the semester) and full-time during semester breaks. Gaining local work experience is invaluable.

Post-study visa options: If your degree program is longer than two years, consider applying for a post-study work visa. This visa allows you to work full-time in Australia for up to two years after graduation.

Working holiday visa: If eligible, the Working Holiday Visa can be a foot in the door. It allows you to work for up to six months with the potential to secure sponsorship if you prove your worth to the employer.

Partner visa: While this isn't a recommended strategy, some individuals may explore partner visas if they have a genuine and eligible relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident. This can provide more flexibility for employment.

Seek employer sponsorship: Some companies in high-demand industries are willing to sponsor international talent for skilled work visas. Research industries and employers that have a need for your skills.

Utilise educational institutions: Connect with your educational institution's career services to access resources, job boards, and guidance tailored to international students.

Could you share any advice for candidates on how to stand out when applying for jobs?

Lara: Absolutely! When applying for jobs, it's essential to make yourself stand out and demonstrate your value. Here are some tips:

Company focus: Look for companies that align with your values and interests. Passion for the company can shine through in your application.

Tailor your application: Customize your application to the specific job and company. Address each requirement listed in the job ad with specific examples of your relevant experiences.

Be yourself: During interviews, be genuine and authentic. Let your personality come through so that the employer can get a sense of who you are.

Showcase transferable skills: Highlight transferable skills that you've gained from various experiences. These skills can demonstrate your adaptability and versatility.

Network: Leverage your network and connections to gain insights into job opportunities and receive recommendations.

What will you take away from hearing about Lara’s journey as an international student? If you’re on the hunt for your next career-building opportunity, discover live roles on Hatch and put your best foot forward to your dream employer. 

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