While a degree or other qualifications give you the skills you need to work in your industry of choice, finding employment is a different challenge altogether. Graduates across the world experience the frustration of trying to find work without any work experience. If you’re planning to study abroad in a country like Canada, you can start building your professional network while you study and gain a competitive edge over other graduates. Try the tips below!

1. Friends for life

Your student years are meant to be some of the best years of your life. Whether you study in a different country or at home, you’re going to meet new people with different life experiences and perspectives. 

Create and maintain friendships with the people who are studying the same course as you because these are likely going to be your colleagues or competitors when you enter the working world. When you’re looking for work opportunities, your friends from college or university may be better equipped to put you in touch with the right contacts than your family or friends from home may be.

2. Connect with lecturers 

Many university lecturers have some level of industry experience related to the courses they teach. In an article for Top Universities about why you should care if your professor is an industry professional, Stephanie Lukins writes; “Bridging the gap between ‘traditional’ teaching methodologies and the application of industry knowledge in the classroom not only enhances the curriculum, but can help students understand the link between theory and practice, as well as better prepare them for the future.” Do some research about the people teaching your courses and consider how their experience can impact your career readiness.

Lecturers can also introduce you to industry contacts and help you find in-roads to future job opportunities. Be sure to make a good impression with your academic work and don’t be afraid to reach out when the time comes to look for practical experience.

3. Volunteer during holidays

International students in Canada are allowed to work full time during scheduled breaks in the school year. Use your time off to find work at a company that suits your career goals. If there are no paid internships available, you could offer to work for free to gain experience and meet people in your chosen field. If you prove yourself helpful, you’re likely to leave with a good recommendation and maybe even a future role after you graduate.

If you cannot find work opportunities within the field you are studying, try to volunteer at other companies to gain general work experience. Skills like teamwork, communication and being well organised are transferrable across industries and can add value to your resume.

4. Update your LinkedIn

Use the benefits of the digital world to help you get ahead while you study abroad. Update your LinkedIn profile so that other users can see where you are studying and what your interests are. Connect with fellow students, follow companies you’d like to work for and join relevant LinkedIn groups to expand your network and keep an eye out for posts about work opportunities. 

LinkedIn is also a great way to stay up to date with the industry you plan to enter after you graduate. Keep an eye on company news and updates about their leadership, strategy and changes in direction. This way, you can comfortably answer interview questions about why you would be a good fit for the company when the time comes. 

5. Apply for internships

Students in Canada are encouraged to take up internships and work experience opportunities. Institutions like the University of Toronto and McGill University encourage practical learning experiences for their students and offer guidance about available internships.

Once you land an internship, go above and beyond to make a good impression and learn as much as you can. The experience can add value to your resume and show potential employees that you aren’t quite starting from scratch in your industry.

Whether you’re planning to start or further your studies in an English-speaking country like Canada, you will be required to take an IELTS test. Make use of our helpful preparation material and register for your IELTS test with us so you can achieve your goals abroad.