Can you work and study in Australia at the same time?

So you want a job while studying?

Meet Sydney Jones, a JCU marine science student, originally from Texas. As an international student in Australia, Sydney has invaluable insight about what it’s like to study—and work—in Australia. Here are some tips from Sydney:

Can you work and study in Australia at the same time?
JCU Marine Science student Sydney Jones (Photo: JCU)

Whether you just need a bit of extra spending money or want professional experience, getting and having a job in Townsville, while you’re studying, may be more difficult than you think. It is difficult because of a couple of reasons.
  • As you are a student studies come first and it makes you less available
  • More than likely you don’t have a car and on campus jobs are scarce
  • Since the minimum wage is high employers expect more from you, especially when it comes to prior experience
While getting a job is difficult, it is not impossible. When my parents allowed me to come to school here there were a couple of conditions. One condition was that I needed to get a job and the other condition was that I could never get a car. Well, after my first semester I realized that getting a job was going to be difficult without a form of transportation and I got a car and a job. Now I know people who don’t have cars and have lived here without one for years and held jobs, but it is just something you need to consider and be realistic about. Also, while I’m thinking about it, if you think you can come here and find a babysitting gig I am sorry to tell you that it is incredibly rare for opportunities like that to come up. There is not a culture here of babysitting like there is in other places.

Alright now onto the advice:
  1. Know your work rights based on the visa you have: This is so important. If you violate the terms, your visa can be canceled and you will have your butt on a plane home in no time.
  2. Have a resume and cover letter prepared to give to employers: Make sure you look at resources online as to what Australian employers expect from a cover letter and resume as it is not universal.
  3. Follow up with businesses where you have dropped your resume off: Even stopping in to say hey might make the difference. A lot of people I know have gotten their jobs because they made a connection with one of the employees. Businesses want to know that you can work well with the rest of the staff and is someone that is easy to get along with.
  4. If you are granted an interview know what the business does and be ready to talk about it: I was surprised when I had my first interview and I got asked specific questions about the restaurant, I still go the job but I was thrown off initially as I just accepted it as a student entry level job.
  5. Use websites as well as just walking into businesses: Websites such as indeed, seek, JCU’s Career hub and spotjobs are useful especially in finding jobs for events such as Groovin the Moo, V8s, the races or for Cowboys games.
  6. Check out the JCU career center: The Careers and Employment center is located at the JCU library and the website also has a lot of awesome resources for students to use.
Before you go on your job hunt and just in general cause it’s awesome check out insiderguides.com.au for some great articles written specifically for International students. Alright so one last piece of advice I can give is to just be realistic and willing to put in the work to get and have a job here, it is a very rewarding experience. Happy job hunting!

Work rights while studying in Australia

You are allowed, as part of your student visa, to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight (every 2 weeks) during semester, and unlimited work rights during semester break. These monies earned are not to be your only source of income for tuition or living expenses, and some students find it difficult to have time for a job due to the university course workload. Balance is everything!

Spouses or common-law partners (dependents) can either work part time or full time, depending on the type of student visa you have.

If you are a postgraduate research student, you can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during any preliminary courses you undertake. If you have commenced your masters by research or doctoral degree in Australia, there is no limit on the number of hours you may work.


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