The year began with my last semester at the University of Melbourne which turned out to be busier than other semesters – I volunteered as a media officer at Red Cross Australia and writer for the Students’ Association of Management & Marketing at the university. Throughout my journey as an international student at UniMelb, I kept looking for ways to share my story. This wound up taking shape as a side project called Humans of UniMelb that continues to publish inspirational student stories. An advocate for personal branding, I realized that students wanted to know the stories, accomplishments and hardships of the ones before them. While to some, stories might help answer questions, to others they may serve as motivation.
One of the most rewarding internships, my stint at Catch Group lasted 8 months. It was a great space to work in as I got to get my hands dirty with creating SEO-optimised content for the Catch website plus their sister website Brands Exclusive.
After two years of assignments, deadlines and an unhealthy consumption of coffee, graduation day finally arrived. My dad and his partner flew in all the way from Morgan Hill, California for a 12-day road trip across Australia.
As I reflect, time spent at university has been more about exploring evolving marketing concepts than just reading up on existing campaigns and strategies. I grew closer to understanding the DNA of marketing and communications as I dived into topics like sensory marketing, information vacuum in social media, and the ever-changing face of digital advertising.
Towards the end of October, I landed a job at Choice Hotels Asia-Pac. I consider myself lucky to have such a diverse and ambitious team to work with.
The future of my profession is undeniably experiential marketing. We are increasingly integrating it with our everyday life, the most recent instance – Netflix’s interactive movie, Bandersnatch where we get to ‘choose our own adventure’.
It truly is The Age of the Consumer. Not that it ever wasn’t. But today, consumers aren’t just consuming what brands give them, they have a voice and appreciate a sense of real connection with brands. Choosing a brand is personal and consumers want to make sure they choose one that listens to them, represents their values, and validates the content they create.
After a short trip back home in Delhi for the holidays, I’m excited to be back and ready to create some magic. ✨
If I had a dollar for every time a young professional asked me about the job scenario in Melbourne…
Despite the large number of international students in Australia, there is a significant lack of information about the employment market. In fact, almost everyone that I’ve met on my post grad journey in Melbourne did not know what to expect after graduation. How long will the post-study visa last? Are there companies hiring people on this visa? Since career portals like Seek and Indeed are full of jobs seeking candidates with Australian citizenship or permanent residency, these questions quietly haunt the minds of international students.
When I applied to the University of Melbourne, all I researched on was the reputation of the institute and the availability of my course. I hadn’t spoken to any professional in the marketing industry who had graduated from UniMelb (or any other university) who would give me an insight on how the job market was doing, especially for international students. My focus had been on getting my master’s degree ticked off my list but now that I was studying in Melbourne, I had to start thinking about the possibility of gaining work experience in Melbourne. In the duration of my two-year course, I reached out to a few alumni through LinkedIn – but received no substantial response. On the other hand, I did find LinkedIn useful in getting one internship in New Delhi and one in Melbourne.
Getting a job as an international student in Melbourne
There’s an obvious gap between international students, alumni, and especially those who get work here Down Under. So, I thought I’d share my story – hopefully giving you an idea of how to navigate your way through the job market in Melbourne. But before I get to what I learned while looking for a job here, I should emphasise on how you, as an international student, must reach out and grab opportunities in your university. It could be a club, a journal, a volunteer position – everything you do in uni counts.
Every university has its own career portal and resources that aren’t necessarily highlighted – you need to be looking for these. If you’re passionate about a subject or topic, this is the time to connect with like-minded people including peers and professors. And since we’re talking about connecting with people, I may as well add how important it is for every university student to have a LinkedIn profile. Keep your online CV updated, be part of discussions and explore industry trends. LinkedIn is not only a great way to stay connected with people you meet at university, but also a fabulous way to build your personal brand.
It’s no surprise that the number of international students in Australian universities is on the rise. Needless to say, there is an explosion in the number of graduate visas.
After I got my Temporary Graduate visa 485, I officially began my search for a job. Three months in, I finally got a position in the marketing team at a reputable US-based company. Here’s what I learned:
Networking, networking, networking
There’s a reason why this is the number one on my list. A great way to start networking is by getting involved during your good ol’ uni days. While university projects connect you to peers, internships and part-time jobs give you a chance to get to know your potential future employers better. At the end of the day, connections made through these routes make for much-needed quality references to give your future employer. Additionally, check out these tips on how you can prepare yourself while looking for work in Melbourne.
Every country has a different idea of what a CV should look like. I’ve literally edited my résumé a bajillion times since my time in Melbourne. After first adapting it to a friend’s CV, I went on to get tips from specific seminars held to guide students on how to optimize and design CVs better. Your CV is how you make your first impression, so make sure it’s a good one. Starting with stating your career purpose, recent employment history – make sure you highlight your achievements at uni or/and at internships.
Meet as many recruiters as possible
There are several recruitment companies in Melbourne that you should connect with. You can either try connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn, or directly apply to a job they’re seeking candidates for on their respective websites. Meeting them in person is a step closer to differentiating yourself from heaps of resumes they receive every day. Not just that, but recruiters also provide helpful tips on how you can make your CV better. A total win-win situation. Don’t forget to dress for success.
You got your first interview – now what?
One of the many amazing recruiters I met told me to take examples of my work to my interview with a potential employer. Isn’t it just a fantastic way to wow people with what you’ve been up to? A great way to showcase your passion, print out your best work and be equipped with examples when you’re being interviewed. Another great pointer is to ask your interviewers relevant questions towards the end of the interview. Not only does this help you get more information about the role you’re applying to, it’s a great way to show your enthusiasm as a candidate. Moreover, be honest about your work experience during the interview.
I cannot emphasise on how much your communication and professional skills matter. Coming from another country, note that people here in Australia deals with things differently. For instance, the time it takes to get a response on an email or getting a call from a job you applied to – while some people might ask you to get in touch in a few days, others can take months – make sure you don’t come across as pushy. Nobody likes that.
Your uni days are the perfect time to start building your personal brand. Although it takes a considerable amount of time for your brand to gain traction, it will definitely be worth it by the time you’re looking for a job.
It was 2009 when I came across CNN iReport asking people to ‘tell their stories and discuss the issues that are important to them’. This was the first time I was introduced to the concept of a brand prompting its users to create content for them. Whether the brand would use the content and how they would use it, however, was completely up to them. But, there I was, ready to share my perspective in form of pictures and stories.
From a one-way conversation to a two-way conversation
We’ve come a long way from a non-interactive one-way communication approach adopted by brands to connect with their audiences. It’s been a heavy shift to make – from brands dictating trends through traditional platforms like press releases and print advertisements – all the way to brands encouraging customers to create content that they can leverage for their own brand authenticity.
This significant shift from brands creating an unattainable ‘aspirational imagery’ to be more approachable has everything to do with how important it is to have substantial customer conversations today. Better yet, brands need a purpose and a consumer-focused strategy to fix an identified issue – whatever that may be. How is this being achieved? With the help of User-Generated Content. Once brands started moving towards a two-way communication strategy with their customers, the quality of customer lifecycle and loyalty to the brand has been given way more emphasis.
It’s all about consumer behaviour. Brands don’t spend thousands of dollars or even millions just to get that one transaction. Today, brands focus on the customer’s post-purchase journey.
Three-way conversation between brands, consumers, and potential consumers
Having spent the last few years monitoring the world of marketing, a three-way conversation is on the rise. Its been proven that two-way conversations are a fantastic way to engage with customers since it results in ‘highly personable and almost natural interactions’ with the brand. Now, brands are beginning to use this conversational approach integrated with UGC to further attract potential customers.
A brand that instantly comes to mind is Rihanna’s Fenty that launched a couple months after Kim Kardashian brands made headlines in 2017. Note that Fenty Beauty is currently on all social media giants: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Simply put, Fenty Beauty’s use of UGC projects authenticity and has led a to higher engagement rate when compared to its tough competitors. Not only is its content strategy on point with a clear message that resonates with a lot of people – a cosmetic line for ‘any culture, any skin tone, any race, any religion, anybody can wear it’ – its strategic use of UGC (with a super glam exclusive hashtag #rihgram) gives new life to the brand’s overarching message. No wonder, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty has earned even more attention on social media than giants like Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian’s KKW Beauty. Leveraging fan-made content – essentially word-of-mouth in this day and age – and strategically customizing it with the knowledge of content strategy, brands can reach their full potential to not only establish loyalty in customers, but also reach new customers.
It takes customers a few minutes to give feedback on products they use, and brands are recognizing this. Chief marketing officer at Foreo, a company that makes beauty devices adds that “brands now build a following based on reviews and comments”. In fact, recent research reveals that customers who engage with UGC are more than twice as likely to make a purchase than their peers.
It’s not just cosmetic brands, a major reason for the fast expansion of K-pop’s fandom is because of how Korean agencies have repurposed fan-made content like compilation videos, vlogs, fancams and reactions to create a sense of anticipation, competition and needless to say, engagement among its fans. Today, how brands want customers to engage with them is changing. Brands of all sizes are experimenting with the way they want to create and use three-way conversations by integrating it with their marketing campaigns – all to reach their potential stakeholders.
To celebrate my graduation, we decided to travel across Australia.
What better way to do that if not by road? For a second we considered taking a RV but looking back I’m glad we got cozy hotel beds to sleep in on our 12-day Great Australian Road Trip.
After touring around the city for two days, we crossed off the Yarra river cruise (an informative and interesting cruise), Queen Victoria night market (Wednesdays nights during Winters) and The Melbourne Star from our touristy checklist.
I recommend these fabulous spots to everyone coming to this city especially because you get to see the beauty of the city and taste food from around the would.
Since this was my dad’s first visit to Melbourne, I took him to my favourite place – Southbank which is a tiny walk away from Flinders station. Lined with amazing bars and restaurants along its bank, the Yarra river looks mesmerizing at any given time. Since my graduation was at the Royal Exhibition Hall, dad also got to see this World Heritage Site-listed building that also happens to be one of the world’s oldest remaining exhibition pavilion. Being a unimelb student, we’ve given our final exams here – several times in the last two years.
If you’re curious about our trip, read on to find out the places we covered and the highlights of each destination.
Day 1: Melbourne to Warrnambool
Via The Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles
Distance covered: 344 km
Highlights: We started the day in no hurry but by the time we had our stop overs at Geelong and Lorne, it was clear we needed to rush to see the 12 Apostles if we wanted to see them in their glory while the sun was still out.
Although it says that this famous attraction closes at 5 PM online (which is exactly when we reached), we (thankfully) found a lot of tourists still taking pictures and hanging out. The highlight of this trip was catching the 12 Apostles view at sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous. Although this was my second visit to the Apostles, you can never truly get enough of the view.