The Story Behind “It’s Who You Know”

by | Aug 2, 2019

Around this time last year UTS Careers was gearing up to pilot “It’s Who You Know” – an event for international students to practise their networking skills and to learn from former international students now working in Sydney. After the event, I wrote about “Why the Phrase ‘It’s Who You Know’ is Vital for International Students”

I mentioned that it was a dream come true for me as a former international student but what I didn’t mention was that in our team brainstorming, the suggestion for the name of the event also came from a former international student. He managed the pilot (let’s call him AJ) and the team executed the event successfully. We had 15 Alumni and 58 students in attendance. To cater to different types of students we had both structured and unstructured networking activities.

group of people at networking event, casual clothing

In all the hype of the build-up to the day (and on the day), what we were all trying so hard not to focus on was the fact that it was also AJ’s last day at UTS Careers. AJ’s graduate visa was expiring soon and he had to return to his home country. It was one of the most difficult (to control my emotions) welcome speeches I’ve had to make. On the one hand, a dream was becoming a reality and on the other, we were losing a great colleague because of the dreaded visa-processing journey.

We ran the event again in the Autumn Session this year and it was bittersweet because we were all thinking of AJ not being there. The success of the event has meant that it will be included in the 2019 Festival of Future You and will be held on 9 August in the Great Hall to enable more international students the opportunity to practise their networking skills.

For the team, this time round won’t be about trying not to be sad because AJ was leaving or bittersweet because AJ wasn’t there, but instead it will be a bit of a ‘full circle’ moment because AJ is back in Oz! Upon learning that he was returning, he reached out to his professional network and already had an interview lined up within days of landing back in Australia. Now he has his PR and will be one of the Alumni attending the event. 

7 students smiling at the camera at networking event

For the pilot last year and its second iteration in Autumn, I used the connections I had maintained with former international students over the years. Whereas for the August session this year, we’re looking to double the number of Alumni attending and we have almost reached our target after I posted on LinkedIn. What has been great to see is the power of networking to enable increasing the number of alumni attending. Those unable to attend mentioned that they would tell their friends, some tagged others or shared my post on LinkedIn. In looking at the alumni registered to attend, there are quite a few I know and there are some who I now work with as well, whether within UTS or because UTS is one of their clients.

Therefore, this networking event for international students was not only named by a former international student, but also organised by a former international student’s team and supported by former international students. Networking is constant and continuous and more often than not, the results are not instant, but you have to keep at it whether looking for work, gaining knowledge or keeping up with your industry. Without all of the connections we’ve all created and maintained, this event wouldn’t exist – because really, it is all about ‘who you know’.

students chatting at networking event

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.

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