Working in Australia- my perspective as a brown skinned newly arrived resident


Having born in another country and grown up in another, I had always considered myself as a world citizen. While I was happiest in my home country India, my life took a beautiful turn when I met my soulmate who then lived in Australia. 5 years ago, I decided to leave my country, family, friends, work, and all the things that I’ve grown up with and fly to make a nest in Australia, with my partner.

After a two year long struggle to get a Permanent Residency(PR), I was happy and satisfied that I can live and work like the others that live here. While I knew I was a brown-skinned Muslim migrant from India, one look at the multicultural mix of people in trains, buses or city centre in Sydney made me feel that I will be accepted here. Only time would tell if I was right.

Since the year I received my Temporary Partner Visa (which later turned into Permanent Residency), I started the hunt for full-time work. I had heard from friends around that it is tough to crack the first full-time permanent job in Australia, and tough it was! I struggled for months and months until I got my first break in Australia. Hooray! One big step achieved, I thought to myself.

Before I go ahead, let me tell you that apart from being a brown-skinned Muslim resident, I also had a non-Aussie accent at this point and was very new to the Australian lifestyle and work system.
I had no contacts in Australia in terms of long-settled friends and family. All these reasons made it even tougher for me to get the right job opportunities, without the right guidance.

After a number of years experience with different jobs (which were not so easy to break into) here are my experiences:

  • I didn’t have the right resume and cover letter to start with, so it was basically like throwing darts in a dark room. I had absolutely no idea if my resume is even reaching the right people and job.
  • I never knew the importance of Linkedin and references in Australia till much later. Having never used Linkedin in the country I came from, prior references and contacts were not handy for other employers or recruiters to read through, which created another hindrance.
  • The third and most important thing that is required in Australia to be accepted in the workforce, was local experience- something I never had. How would I get local experience if no one hires me, is what perplexed me.

After discovering my likes and dislikes and working hard on the above three points, I finally found myself a perfect job. In case any of you are wondering how to acquire local experience without being hired, volunteering and contract/ temp jobs are the answer.

If you have come from another country just like me, it’s not easy for anyone to hire you straight away without knowing that you can really be trusted to do the job. Also, you do need to understand what the work culture in Australia is like. When you volunteer or take up contract jobs, you are giving an opportunity not just to yourself but to your present and future employer to gauge your skills in the Australian market. A win-win for both!

Another thing to remember, while you are looking out for jobs is to be involved in community-based or social activities. This will allow you to feel a sense of worth at the end of the day.

Email me if you need any tips to enter the workforce in Australia or want to share your personal work experiences with me or others.

Author: nisreenakolawala

I am a former Architect who left her career to follow her heart and passion, which involves travelling, photography and Social media marketing. I have stayed in a rustic village of Eastern Himalayas, swum with colorful fishes and corals in Fiji, lived with gypsy Banni villagers in Western India, interacted with Kenya’s Masai tribe, river rafted in the freezing cold river in Ladakh, lived and explored a quaint beach town of Tanga in Tanzania, took a 48 hour camel safari in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, sailed on a felucca on the mighty Nile river in Egypt and chilled with the Kangaroo’s in Australia. Needless to say I am always adding more experiences and places to the list.