CIC Higher Education graduate Arjun Shreshta debunks a common misconception that only permanent Australian residents can get a full-time, long-term job in Australia. A Bachelor of Business (Accounting) 2017 graduate, he now works as an accounts payable officer of Lancemore Group, a multi-awarded boutique hotel chain in Australia which includes the Mansion Hotel & Spa, Alamanda Palm Cove, Lindenberry at Red Hill, Larmont Sydney, Lindenwarrach at Milawa and Spring Hill Estate.
“During my first year in college, I used to hear negative comments from some people who were in Australia earlier than me. Comments like ‘You won’t get a good job with your college degree; it’s impossible for you to compete with domestic university students; your English is not good enough; they won’t hire you because you are not a permanent resident.’ I believed all of these for a while.”
Arjun has proven that with perseverance and hard work, an international student’s Australian dream can come true. Like any other student in a new country, he had it tough. He relates how he came to Australia to pursue his dream of an international education and a better life at a high cost – his parents’ life savings and even their house.
At 19, he was in a new country with no network, no job, no family around and a huge responsibility on his shoulders. “When I arrived here, I was culturally shocked. Things did not work in my favour,” Arjun recalls. “Paying school fees while working part-time wasn’t exactly my idea of a better life. In order to feed myself, I took on two low-paying part-time jobs, and thanks to 2-minute noodle soups, I made it through!” he adds, with a sheepish grin.
“I can still recall those sleepless nights running around Flinders Street station trying to catch the last train to Craigieburn, stressed because of assignment deadlines and fees due by next week,” Arjun says, He would check his email and would get a reminder about paying his fees. At the back of his mind, he was afraid that he will get deported for failing to pay his dues. “This is probably the most common, psychologically stressful situation that we face as international students in Australia,” he adds.
Hitting rock bottom
Arjun confides about the time he hit rock bottom. He gambled his money on a hare-brained betting scheme in the hopes of earning a quick buck. He was desperate because he had no money to pay for his tuition fees for two terms. “I heard that the quickest way to earn money was to place bets, and this is what a lot of students were doing at the time. So I did. And within a week as a punter, I wiped off all my savings.” To top this, he became very depressed when his best friend who was also an international student in New Zealand committed suicide. “I couldn’t have imagined what he was going through.”
In spite of the adversities, Arjun gradually pulled himself out of the dark emotional pit. “Falling into the lowest point of my life with all these failures, mistakes, stupidity and grief, the only thing that I never did was lose hope,” he reveals. Day by day, he trudged on, focusing on his obligation to settle all his bills. An independent young man, he was ashamed to ask his parents for money. So he had to suffer the consequence of his actions. He worked two part-time jobs and buckled down on his studies.
He says that the key takeaway from this experience is opening up to people who care about you. “We must speak to our friends and loved ones if we are depressed and feel like giving up. Let’s help each other out and be there to help someone without expecting any reward.”
Getting out of his comfort zone
Arjun pushed on and proved his naysayers wrong by working hard, studying well, attending job fairs and networking events to expand his circle.
When he was invited to share his student journey with the graduating class of 2018, he points out, “Today, I am standing in front of you all not because I have accomplished everything in my life or have any magic to bring a miracle into your life. I am here to share my journey which I hope will inspire you all to plan ahead of your future.”
He says that many naysayers may question international students’ resolve to shine and overcome the odds that are stacked against them. But he challenged them to block out negative thoughts, work hard and stay focused on their goal.
He shares about a time when he was stuck in a dead-end job but held on out of fear of accepting new challenges. “I was too comfortable with what I had and became reluctant to get out of my comfort zone.”
Arjun eventually got the courage to open up to the CIC student services staff and was rewarded with sound advice. He started attending alumni and CPA events to expand his connections. “That’s how my journey towards a better direction started,” he recalls.
Using time wisely
After graduation, Arjun was advised that he has two crucial years to remain in the Subclass 485 graduate visa. He resolved to use this time wisely. He upskilled by doing online courses, updated his professional profile through LinkedIn and improved on his English language skills. He says, “We need 80 points to get an invitation for the Accounting skilled migration program. That’s why we’re required to have a high level of English mastery.” He finally got a Band 8 IELTS score on his 6th attempt. “Overcoming these issues is not easy but we are all strong and resilient people who are brave enough to leave our country, learn a second language and get a degree which will open up many opportunities.”
Arjun encourages current students to learn from his experience and take concrete steps to realise their study and career goals. “Go the extra mile to get your dream job, one that’s relevant to your field of study. It will be tough but not impossible.” Aside from his full-time work with Lancemore, Arjun shares his time volunteering at the Nepalese Association of Victoria where he currently sits as Joint Secretary.
His advice to students and new graduates: join the professional year program, look out for a good internship to gain Australian work experience and see the careers department in the college. He also cites LinkedIn where he got his internship offer with JB Hi-Fi as an important platform to attract potential employers.
“The power of hope and persistence is amazing. All we need is just a little bit of patience and positivity. We must be resilient. I know that it’s not easy. But we have the capacity to overcome a lot of challenges and, I believe, we can all do it!” he concludes.