A Story About Resilience and Adaptability from a Former International Student

by Jan 6, 2017

Picture the scene: gravel road, bus with floors you can see through to the road, passing corrugated rooves on shack-like houses with views of hills, and passing by a river every now and then. This was my journey every day to high school. Since I lived in a valley, there were mornings when the dew settled over us so the dusty bus ride to school included walking cross a bridge, clothes damp from dew, which resulted in a ‘light muddy airbrushed’ look for the day.

Flicking the pages of my history, I’m now gazing out from level 25 of the Tower Building at UTS in a new office in Sydney. I’m writing this for those international students who I worry for – you’ve pushed yourself to get here, keep pushing to get there, wherever “there” might be for you. Just being in another country adds to your global citizenship credentials: a graduate attribute you already have. Lift your head up and be proud that you know another language, are learning another one, and adapting to a new culture, education system and work place. Stop focusing on what you don’t have, and use what you do have to get what you need to develop to refine your journey, both professionally and personally.

A common mistake most make is to think that your career is separate from you – the ‘personal me’ and the ‘professional me’. This is true to an extent, but your career is a crossover of the two – your career path comes from within you. I’m getting mushy, I know, philosophical, so I’ll add another: when people say, “This is my calling,” I used to think, “whatevs“. But now, I think that who I was and where I wanted to be led me to where I am. I was realistic and truthful to myself of where I was at and what I needed to do to get to where I needed to be as a person; useful in this world.

Don’t get me wrong, when I was in my early teens all I was confident about for my career path was that my English was great and I was at a national standard for public speaking. But my brain wasn’t fast to absorb the knowledge this world had to offer. Therefore, I had to adapt and choose between science or arts – the peace of the bush or the energy of the city; Fiji or Australia; hospitality or education; administrator or educator. These are the choices I’ve made for the ‘professional me’. The ‘personal me’ pushed through long-distance relationships including being away from family, and adapting to computers, the internet and the smartphone.

Therefore, if you are an international student, look out there to see how many former international students have successfully navigated their way through the Australian workplace. A large part of their success is a positive attitude with a high level of resilience that enables them to adapt and evolve into a better version of themselves.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.


By Esita Sogotubu

By Esita Sogotubu

Employability Manager

Esita Sogotubu is an experienced career development practitioner with 10 years of service at UTS Careers. She has worked in hospitality and was a newspaper reporter in another life. As an Employability Manager she is a great believer of self-awareness being key to personal and professional development and success. Her work in the Career Programs Team has included the Accomplish Award and Univative. She has a particular interest and passion for international students, as she was one herself.