A year-by-year guide to becoming one of the most employable graduates

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As an international student, you have invested heavily in your future. Your education and career are a significant life investment, so planning your career is vital for reaching your potential. UNSW will prepare you for your future and set you up for career success as one of Australia’s most employable graduates.

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Top earners

Highest graduate median salary of Sydney-based and Go8 universities

QILT Graduate Outcome Survey, 2021

Most employable graduates

Highest number of students in Australia’s top 100 Most Employable list

AFR Top100 Future Leaders Awards, 2022

#1 for full-time employment

Highest graduate full-time employment rate of Go8 universities

QILT Graduate Outcome Survey, 2021

UNSW Employability is UNSW’s hub for enhancing your global employability, providing you with a team dedicated to helping you find the resources, tools and opportunities to support your career-focused education.

Throughout this guide, you’ll find workshops, programs, courses and resources brought to you by SACS. Whether you’re joining us on campus or online, we’re making our career development resources available to all our students.

If you can’t join us on campus due to COVID-19 border restrictions, your time spent studying online can still count towards eligibility for post-study working rights. By holding an Australian student visa while studying outside Australia, you’ll still be opening the possibilities of where you can launch your career once you graduate.

Starting Out

Research shows the earlier you begin to plan and build skills towards your career goals, the more employable you become. By planning in your first year, you can make the most of your time at UNSW and take full advantage of the services and opportunities available to you.

When starting out, it’s essential to get to know yourself better and set goals. Ask yourself questions like: What am I good at? What do I dislike doing? What interests me? What am I passionate about? Where would I like to work and why? What is my dream job?

It’s also key to research what employers are looking for and how you can tailor your career development towards these skills. Career-focussed curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities at UNSW will develop top skills that employers look for, such as written, verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

Top skills employers look for: 

According to the Australian Association of Graduate Employers Employer Survey 2020, Australian employers surveyed rated the top ten soft skills as follows: 

  1. Communication 
  2. Interpersonal Skills 
  3. Teamwork 
  4. Initiative and Enterprise 
  5. Emotional Intelligence 
  6. Resilience 
  7. Planning and Organising 
  8. Self Management 
  9. Leadership 
  10. Grades 
Nawab Taimur Ahmed

"Good communication skills are key to a successful and bright career."

Nawab Taimur Ahmed, Network Development Engineer, Amazon

Master of Engineering Science  |  Completed: Professional Development Program and Yellow Shirts Program

First Year

The first year of your studies is all about building knowledge and getting into a new routine. Focus on your coursework while also becoming familiar with Australian culture, the employment market and potential career pathways.

First year is a great time to set yourself up with the basics needed to apply for extra-curricular and employment opportunities. You might not have a lot to put on a resume, cover letter or LinkedIn profile yet, but setting up their foundations will help you build on them throughout your degree.

First year checklist

✔ Prepare a resume and cover letter - have it reviewed at a 1-to-1 UNSW career advice appointment

✔ Create a LinkedIn profile - remember to keep it up to date

✔ Gain experience and build soft skills with volunteering and professional development opportunities offered by UNSW Advantage

✔ Expand your network by joining a student society or volunteering with UNSW’s student association Arc


✔ Practicing your English: UNSW Personalised English Language Enhancement (PELE)

✔ Completing CDEV1112: Creating Your Career as an elective or general education unit

Related career development seminars to support you: Writing a Successful Resume and Cover Letter, Ace the Interview, Network for Success and Navigating LinkedIn for Career Success

Middle Years

There are many co-curricular programs at UNSW to help you with your career development, leadership and entrepreneurship. The middle years of your degree are an ideal time to participate in some of these and add to your personal and professional development outside of the classroom.

Second year checklist 

✔ Apply for the Professional Development Program for International Students 

✔ Join a mentoring program to connect with alumni and industry professionals 

✔ Develop your entrepreneurial confidence through the Founders Program 

✔ Add to your resume through UNSW Hero Program, with industry workshops, an innovative project and volunteering experience 

✔ Complete internships and other Worked Integrated Learning opportunities 

Related career development seminars to support you: Get that Job: Strategies for Successful Job Searching, Assessment Centres and Applying for Graduate Programs Online

Bea Phan

"Make sure you participate and make new connections at Professional Development Program!"

Bea Phan, Business Analyst, UNSW

Bachelor of Commerce  |  Completed: Professional Development Program, Career Leaders and NSW Global Scope

Final Year

In your final year, it’s time to start using all your research and planning and apply for work globally and/or in Australia. Be sure to use a variety of job search methods to increase your chances of success. It's also important to realise that as a new graduate you may work in various fields before finding the right fit for you. 

UNSW Student Academic and Career Success works with online recruitment platforms that help students apply to organisations that specifically want to hire returnee students. Examples include: 

Final year checklist 

✔ Apply for jobs using multiple strategies - focusing on quality versus quantity and don’t limit yourself to graduate programs, considering small-to-medium-sized businesses 

✔ Attend UNSW Career Expos/Global Careers Week 

✔ Research visas and opportunities in Australia, your home country or other countries 

✔ Connect with the UNSW Alumni LinkedIn group 

✔ Prepare your applications and practice for interviews with a career development facilitator 

Related career development seminars to support you: Get that Job: Strategies for Successful Job Searching, Addressing Selection Criteria and Ace the Interview 

Karla Mortel

"Find time, book it in, take action and reap the benefits!"

Karla Mortel, Recruitment Consultant, Hays

Master of International Business  |  Completed: Professional Development Program and Career Ready Mentoring Program

After You Graduate

The world of work is constantly changing, and the transition from full-time student into permanent full-time employment is increasingly rare. More and more graduates are starting their careers in short-term contracts or temporary positions. 

Be open to opportunities and don’t wait for that perfect job to appear. Use short-term opportunities as stepping-stones towards your ultimate goal. Keep building on your skills and experience while staying motivated to get your dream job. 

You can access UNSW SACS services up to 18 months after you graduate. Remember to keep your information up to date in our online system. Be sure to connect with the UNSW Alumni LinkedIn group and connect with alumni from your country.

International student career resources

UNSW Employability can help you get ready for the future your want. Whether you want to climb the ranks, explore different industries, or strike out on your own, they'll help you discover what motivates you and where your career journey can take you. 

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