17 April 2015

Just need to take the first step

Nine months ago, I stepped off the plane in Sydney after many hours in flight. It was an early chilly morning. Looking at the newly risen sun, I took a deep breath of the cold air, full of unfamiliar smells, telling myself that I could fulfil my goals.

However, to achieve these goals was anything but easy. I thought I had learned English well enough, but then I found myself barely understanding the conversations around me. I thought I was good at studying, but then I found myself having difficulties applying my knowledge to real cases. I thought I could find an internship at a local firm in the same way I did in China, but then I found myself limited in many aspects as an international student. There were so many challenges and much competition. I was scared. I began to lose confidence.

It was at this point that I decided to go for a consultation at the Business School career kiosk. Through the consultation, I realised that since the possibility for an international student to enter a local firm would be relatively slim unless haivng a high English level and necessary working skills that could match native students, what I needed to do was take a step forward, leaving my comfort zone to enhance my capabilities.

The first step I took was taking part in Neuroblastoma Australia – a charity activity – as a volunteer. At the beginning, I was too shy to speak and was afraid of doing things wrong. But as soon as I finally took the first step to start chatting with Shirley, a friendly girl who was working next to me, I immediately knew that I had worried too much. Actually, we had many things in common, and we might have kept talking forever if time permitted.

Later she introduced me to her friends who were also working there as volunteers. Gradually, the barrier in my heart disappeared. At the end of that day, not only did I finish my job well, but I also got to meet many new friends and had fulfilling conversations.

Encouraged by this volunteer experience, I joined many other activities. At the same time, I kept gaining employment skills from the Business School's Careers and Employability Office (CEO) career workshops, where I learned how to modify my resume, enabling me to stand out in an Australian employment environment. I also embraced opportunities to network with employers and recruiters, and so on. Several months later, in the summer holiday, I was offered an internship position from a Sydney company, which although small, provided me with a great opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in a real-world setting.

A week ago, I walked into the career kiosk consultation office again. This time, I had a professional resume with two pages full of my extra-curricular activity and internship experiences in hand, and talked in much more fluent English with a confident tone. I was going there for Industry Placement Program (IPP) application advice.

Another winter is coming now. Looking at the newly risen sun, I take a deep breath of the cold air, and smile. It is never easy to go uphill, but it may not be as hard as we think as well. All we need to do is take the first step, and have the initiative to be fully prepared for future opportunities, so that when we look back, we will be proud of how far we have walked.

Brenda Zeng
Brenda is an international student and current student at the University of Sydney Business School.

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