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Unravelling the Truth: Why international students could not land their first marketing job?

Did you know that only 46% of international students who successfully land a full-time job in Australia? And did you know that, on average, international students remain unemployed for around six months after graduating?

As one of those students who studied at a top 100 university, I thought I had it all figured out. The best education, building my CV through student activities, following well-worn paths to success. I was set to land a great marketing job. Six months after graduating, I'm still searching, shocked and feeling lost. I realise some advice is not as effective especially in today's digital world.

Today, I would like to share my experiences and some of the myths I have encountered in the job search process from an international student perspective. Now, I know the truth! I wish someone could have told me earlier!

Myth 1: Graduating from a prestigious university guarantees a job

Growing up in Vietnam, I often dreamed of studying abroad. I had repeatedly heard complaints that the education in Vietnamese universities was behind the times, resulting in graduates struggling to find their ideal jobs. Fuelled by these concerns, I completed my bachelor's degree at a renowned university in Australia, expecting a different outcome. However, I was taken aback to find the situation strikingly similar, with less than 50% of international students securing full-time jobs in Australia post-graduation.

The reality is, a prestigious degree no longer guarantees a job, as companies adapt to global economic changes by reducing staff or hiring contractors. This has led to a reduced job market for new graduates, including international students like myself. Misunderstandings about visa policies and concerns about cost and loyalty from the recruiters further disadvantage us, limiting opportunities in fields like marketing.

Moreover, the gap between academic theory and practical job-ready skills further widens the divide. While companies seek graduates with tangible skills like content writing or data analysis, universities continue to focus on theoretical knowledge without adequate hands-on experience.

Understanding these factors, it becomes clear that a degree from a renowned university is not an automatic ticket to professional success. To compete effectively, we must recognize the unique challenges faced and navigate the right path, showing that we have more to offer than just a prestigious degree.

Myth 2: Leading Student Associations Secure a Marketing Role

I thought that joining a student association will help in building my marketing skills and enhance my resume. However, I was wrong! I expected the key leaders to guide the new team members on how to run the events and market the society. In fact, I was shocked to hear from one key leader that no one had guided them in the past, they were just as lost as I am.

For example, some events were created randomly the night before, which means that the members of the boards did not have a clear calendar for their events. They also did not have a good plan to promote their events. If the events were more organised, and promoted effectively, it would have attracted more attendees.

These bizarre experiences led me to question: “Does joining student associations help me gain proper marketing skills to land a job?” Recently when I spoke to the marketing director of a student association, I posed her this question. She said running activities in student associations helped her develop some soft skills, such as interpersonal skills. However, as mentioned earlier, hard skills come first in the changing market environment, and soft skills are secondary. In this era of digital transformation, giving this advice is outdated. Employers are looking for job-ready graduates with relevant marketing skills to do the job immediately. This myth is therefore busted.

Myth 3: Internship Experience a Golden Ticket to a Good Marketing Job

Many people advised me to pursue an internship, promising it was the key to securing a job in the future. Though this might be sound advice for some, I quickly realized it might not apply to my situation.

An internship can offer a glimpse into the office working environment, but I discovered that not all internships provide opportunities to develop relevant or critical skills. Many businesses seem hesitant to invest time in training interns, perhaps seeking a quicker return on their investment. This reluctance might stem from mentors being overwhelmed with their own responsibilities, a brief internship duration, or a need for interns to handle mundane tasks.

For instance, after five rounds of interviews, my friend landed her first internship at a well-known company — a dream opportunity for anyone. However, she did data entry every day during her internship, with the company not assigning her any other tasks. She was disappointed and considered quitting. Another friend spent her entire two-months internship photocopying documents. In my case, without guidance from a marketing manager, I was left performing administrative tasks, unable to develop the skills I needed for my dream job.

If we're willing to invest our time and effort into unpaid internships, we should receive something in return, whether learning new techniques or gaining more skills. If we don't have a mentor to guide us properly, we risk wasting a lot of time wandering in the dark about what we don't know. We need someone to teach us properly. I may be slow, but I will get there!

Myth 4: Holding a Google/Facebook/HubSpot Certificate Enough to Clinch a Marketing Job

Have you ever pondered the value of Google or Facebook certificates? Can they secure you a promising marketing job? While there may be some debate on this topic, I've come to understand that no certificate can guarantee a job!

I came across a forum where individuals shared their experiences with Google certificates. Some mentioned that they gained new knowledge, but the consensus was that a certificate alone is insufficient to land a job. One user, who completed the Google UX Design course, was still struggling to secure a job post-certification. He emphatically stated: “You will NOT GET A JOB.”. However, he noted that a strong portfolio that vividly displays your capabilities could land you a job! I wouldn't say you shouldn’t pursue Google certificates, but managing your expectations is crucial.

If you aim to broaden your knowledge, taking these courses is beneficial. However, you’ll likely be disappointed if you hope to secure a job immediately after completing these certificates. These certificates can demonstrate our knowledge but fail to prove our skills or show that we can perform on the job. Australian recruiters typically prioritize practical experience.


Embarking on your career journey can be both exciting and overwhelming. From my own experience, I know how essential it is to filter the advice you receive and take proactive steps towards your goals. Stay adaptable and embrace a mindset of continuous learning. Your path is unique, filled with opportunities to explore and shape according to your ambitions.

If you're seeking guidance or feeling uncertain, especially in the marketing field, consider reaching out to MARKCubator. Together, we can help refine your skills and set you on the path to success. Your future awaits, and it's yours to shape. Contact MARKCubator today, and let's begin this exciting journey together!

MARKCubator, Your Aussie Partner. Join our up coming events to find out the proven strategies, which could help you to land your first marketing job in Australia!

If you need support in career guidance, you are welcome to book a free 30-minute consultation with Dr Theresa.

Author: Vu Phuong Uyen Nguyen Date Published: 17 Aug 2023



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