How to Build Your Resume as an International Student

How to Build Your Resume as an International Student

Dear international student,

Would you like to remain abroad after your graduate study?

Do you want to extend your stay after getting that degree?

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Would you like to get a foreign job immediately after completing your Master’s program?

If your answer to these questions is “Yes,” you must build your resume. That is the only way you can thrive in the foreign labour market. Getting a good job abroad largely depends on your intellectual and professional capacity, which you can only demonstrate through a robust resume.

The real question is, how can you build your resume as an international student?

READ: The Key to Working in the United Kingdom After Your Studies

Contrary to what you may think, you can effectively build a strong resume even as a student. It all boils down to how you utilise and manage your time, resources, and opportunities while in school. 

This article shares some simple ways to build your resume as an international student. We are not referring to just any resume, but one that will wow your future employer.

Let’s dig in!

Guidelines on How to Build Your Resume as an International Student

If you want to build a strong resume as an international student, follow these simple steps. 

1. Join a Student Club or Association

Every university or college abroad has social clubs and associations where students engage in wholesome extracurricular activities. Your potential employer would love that you could pursue other interests besides academic work. It’s often a pointer to your versatility, multitasking, time management, organisational, team building, leadership, and social skills. What better way to demonstrate this than to join student clubs, associations, and societies that complement your skills, talents, and interests? 

You can join any club, including but not limited to Sports, Media, Arts, Politics, Drama, Science, Music, Writing, Press, and Advocacy. Please choose an activity related to your course of study and career objectives. An extracurricular activity doesn’t just look good on your resume. It also gives you the opportunity to unwind, have fun, make new friends, develop your skills, build your network, and create special memories during your time in school. 

2. Volunteer

Volunteering is one of the best ways to build up your resume. It shows that you’re community-minded and further develops your interpersonal skills. It is also a great way to connect with the locals at your study destination and help solve social issues. When you think about it, you’re not just building your resume but also giving back to society.

Don’t be quick to volunteer with any nonprofit or student group you find on campus. Like any other extracurricular activity, you must be strategic in choosing an organisation where you’d like to volunteer. Don’t forget that the goal is to boost your resume. So, it would be best to consider how the organisation and role as a volunteer fit into your interests, career goals, and study plan. 

Ask important questions like:

  • How will this volunteer position help me reach my career goals?
  • What social causes or issues am I passionate about?
  • What skills are required for this volunteer position?
  • How much time can I dedicate to this cause in a week or month?
  • Are the hours flexible for me, and does it fit into my study plan?
  • What experience do I hope to gain from this?
  • What skills will I develop from this?

Answering these questions will help you choose a nonprofit organisation and volunteer opportunity that best fits you. You can volunteer during specific events even if you can commit as a full-fledged team member because of your studies. 

READ: What You Should Know About Work-Study Life

3. Work-Integrated Learning

Working while in school isn’t just good for your bills. It’s also a great way to build your resume as an international student.

These days it’s not enough to graduate with good grades. You must be able to demonstrate some real work experience that’s related to your field of study. 

Select a program or college that offers work-integrated learning opportunities when applying for your degree program. These work-integrated learning opportunities help you use the lessons taught in the classroom in a real-world work setting. They include internships, co-op, work placements, industrial projects, and work simulations. 

Work-integrated learning prepares you for life after school. It helps you learn hard and soft skills that make you stand out in a pool of job applicants. It also gives you the opportunity to network with industry colleagues who could be your potential employers. 

If you never thought of this, now you know better. Don’t let another work opportunity slip through your fingers. 

4. Engage in Networking Activities 

There is a saying that your network is your network. Indeed, social capacity is an indispensable currency in the corporate world. All it takes is just one mention of your name by the people who matter, and the job is yours. That’s why you need to build healthy relationships with people in your industry. They will come in handy when you need someone to put in a good word for you. 

You don’t need to run helter-skelter when you need a reference or recommendation. The best way to avoid getting stranded is to network! Go out and meet people. Attend industry events like conferences, seminars, symposiums, training, and summits. As you do, ensure to interact and engage with people. Arm yourself with a captivating elevation pitch. You never know who you may meet by chance in the elevator. Even if you are a couch potato who doesn’t like to hang out, you can participate in virtual events and connect with people on social media.

5. Enrol in an Internship

If an internship isn’t part of your course requirements, we recommend enrolling for one. We know you think internships are cheap labour, where you get to do the heavy lifting for little or no pay. But it’s an invaluable experience that helps you learn the ropes. An internship prepares you to transition from school to work life. It’s an opportunity to taste the waters and gain some work experience. 

When you think about it, you have nothing to lose. Even if you mess up, your supervisor will take the fall for it. That’s because, as an intern, they still regarded you as a learner. So, there’s room for mistakes and improvements. It’s also an opportunity to network and build relationships with those at the top cadre. 

READ: Internship Opportunities for Third Class Graduates

6. Get an On-Campus Job

Many universities abroad offer all kinds of on-campus jobs that you can explore. These are jobs you can do within the university campus. So, you don’t have to worry about commuting to work every day unless you live off campus. They are part-time positions that allow you to work up to 20 hours a week, so you’d still have time to study. You can only work extra hours during holidays unless you enrol for summer classes.

On-campus jobs can be paid or voluntary. You can earn between $7 to $12 per hour for your work, which can help you offset your bills. This way, you get to make money while building your resume. Yes, these job opportunities are open to international students. 

There are a variety of on-campus jobs you can choose from. You can get a job in the school library, computer lab, science lab, student offices, cafeteria, fitness centre, etc. You can also get tuition waiver jobs like Teaching Assistantship (TA), Graduate Assistantship (GA), or Research Assistantship at your university. If you get any of these jobs, you won’t just make money but also get automatic discounts on your tuition fee. Great, right?

If you prefer to explore off-campus job openings, ensure your visa status supports that. Some student visas, like an F1 visa, do not permit you to work off-campus. It’s illegal, and you may get into big trouble if you do so. However, if you really want to work off-campus, you can get an exemption or waiver from your university for compelling reasons like economic hardship. 

READ: How to Show Proof of Funds for F1 Visa

7. Create a Digital Portfolio

During your study, you will probably complete several projects and assignments. Don’t be quick to discard them, as they can serve as part of your proof of work. Create a digital portfolio where you can archive them. They will come in handy, especially if you don’t have any field experience.

You can also document your work during your internship and work-integrated learning opportunities. When you send a well-organised portfolio alongside your resume to a potential employer, it gives them the impression that you are a meticulous professional. It also proves that you’re not all talk and no show.

8. Create a LinkedIn Profile

As you build your work experience and employability skills, we recommend creating a LinkedIn profile and updating it regularly. A well-written LinkedIn profile can serve as a digital resume to attract potential employers. LinkedIn can serve as a platform network with industry experts and ask for recommendations. The best part is that it gives you access to many job opportunities based on your skills, location, and career path. 

Talk to us if you need help creating a well-structured LinkedIn profile. With ₦15,000 or $30 only, we can help you optimise your LinkedIn: 

  • Headline & Summary
  • Education
  • Certifications & awards
  • Professional Experience
  • Targeted hashtags and keywords
  • Skills and Endorsements
  • Cover photo

You can click here to get started.

How to Get an On-Campus Job as an International Student?

As we mentioned earlier, one way to build your resume as an international student is to get an on-campus job. You may wonder how to get a part-time job as an international student on campus. Well, it may not be as easy as you think, but you can work around it.

There are different ways to get an on-campus job. You can start by following these tips:

1. Ask Your Senior Colleagues 

You can start by asking older students who currently work on campus. You can also ask senior colleagues who passed through that school. They will point you in the right direction. Who knows? They can even use their connections to help you get a good slot.

2. Use the Career Centre

Every university abroad has an on-campus career centre. You can visit the physical career centre for job openings or check their website for job offers. 

Remember that you are not the only student searching for that job opening. Just like every other job vacancy, you will have competition. If you want that job, you must put your best foot forward. 

READ: Working in Australia as an International Student

3. Network

We are back to networking again. Doesn’t that tell you something? Networking can help you unlock many opportunities in the corporate world. Don’t be an islander on campus. Engage in student activities, mingle, and make new friends. The more people you know, the more your chances of getting information about job openings on campus.

4. Volunteer

As you network, don’t forget to look out for volunteer opportunities. We know the goal is to get a paid job, but volunteering could be a starting point to help you climb up the ladder. If you haven’t found a job yet, you can apply for volunteer opportunities in student offices, associations, groups, and societies. It is also an avenue to network with people who can keep you updated on job openings.

5. Go Job Hunting

You may not like the idea of job hunting, but if that job isn’t coming your way, you might as well find it yourself. Remember, if the mountain does not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain. Don’t just sit down and wait for job openings. Be proactive. 

Print out several copies of your resume, go to different school offices, and ask if they have any open positions for students. Don’t limit yourself to your department or faculty. You can also check out other branches and campuses owned by the school. Some people will be impressed by your initiative and offer you a position. 

READ: Work Opportunities for International Students in Canada

In Conclusion,

Building your resume as an international student can be daunting, but following our recommendations will help you achieve your goal. What you do with the opportunities and resources at your disposal as a student today can get you closer to your dream job tomorrow. 

This is not the time to slack. Follow the tips we shared to gain work experience, build your network, develop your employability skills, and ultimately build a befitting resume. You’ll be glad you did. You can schedule a call with our career advisors if you need further guidance. 

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