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How to land a graduate role if you’re an international student

Students graduating in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic have a hard enough time trying to get a graduate role, but if you are an international student, this can feel like an impossible task. 

Does this sound familiar?

“Applicants must be Australian Citizens or an Australian Permanent Resident.”

Literally 95% of job ads.

Usually LDS publishes the list of vacation and summer internships as well as graduate programs that international students actually have a hope of landing. But this year, well, we’ve been a bit preoccupied (you know, the global pandemic and all that). Instead, we’ve put together a list of graduate programs that take on internationals, and either has a named data science stream or have a heavy focus on implementing big data analytics.

If you come across any more, please leave the link in the comments to add them to the list. At the bottom of this post is a list of companies that are known to hire International students. Remember, you have 12-24 months to apply after you graduate.

The information we have provided below is is a comprehensive but not complete summary of our views based on experience and discussions with many data science graduates. It should be viewed as opinion only.

Why don’t Australian companies want us?

This is a matter of economics rather than anything against international students themselves. It’s problematic the reasons that many Australian companies don’t take internationals are not made widely known. For example, we hear this a lot.

“They don’t take international students, that’s so racist.”


Don’t worry, they aren’t racist. Far from it in fact. This is a matter of money. Australian companies will opt not to take on International graduates because they are more expensive to hire than domestic graduates. If you notice, most require PR or citizenship, not for you to be born in Australia. 

In an interview from AFR, Coles communications manager Jasmine Zwiebel commented

“We have taken the position not to hire graduates on student or skilled visas because our intention is that the graduates stay with us for a long time, to build a great career with us.

Jasmine Zwiebel, Coles communications manager

Australian companies will invest a lot of time and money training their graduate hires, the prospect of those hires leaving in 2-3 years just doesn’t add up economically and is a huge risk to the business. Hence PR is needed as a sort of guarantor that you won’t bail after you are trained up. But it’s not as if they think that international students are inferior. Zwiebel went onto say

“There are many benefits of hiring international students, but for Coles, it’s not right for us today. We currently don’t hire graduates on student and skilled visas; however, we do make our vacation program available to students on these visas”.”

Jasmine Zwiebel, Coles communications manager

So while you’re valued, Australian business are not at the point where they can afford to take the risk, but are taking steps to secure quality graduates in the hopes that they will stay.

But I’ll stay in Australia. I want to get PR! 

Sure we get it, Australia is an amazing place to live. But the thing is that companies can’t really hold you your promise that you will stay. And they don’t need to when the domestic supply of data science graduates is on the rise. And while there may still be a shortage of domestic graduates, there definitely isn’t a shortage of international ones.

One of the main issues is that there are a lot of international graduates. In 2018, 50,000 international students were on a 485 visa.  That number has only gone up from then.

In fields such as data science, the vast majority of graduating students are international. This makes it super competitive for all who apply to those few companies that take on international students as graduate hires. This isn’t even including those studying overseas who apply for jobs here in Australia. 

The lesson is that you need to make yourself as competitive as possible. That’s on you, not the university you are at, or the company that you are applying to work at.

“P’s and C’s might get degrees. But only HD’s and a well-rounded resume with community work, sports or hobbies, scholarships and academic awards get a grad role.”


 Hmmm, we’ll workshop that saying.

How to give yourself the best chance of getting a job!

This is on you. Australian business culture is built on hard work, initiative and fairness. No one hands anything to anyone. And if you expect that, then you are going to be in for a rude shock.

Do your research

This article is a good start, but you need to treat this like a part-time job. Even for domestic students landing a graduate role takes time and effort work. There are many reports, academic articles, and government papers on the issue. Such as this one from the International Education Association of Australia. 

A word of warning, most of these are aimed at convincing Australian businesses why they should hire international students. Take them with a pinch of salt, but use them to understand the issues and the language. Honestly, it will help you in the long run. 

Boost your WAM

Most companies asking for a D average actually mean an HD. Again, you are competing with a huge number of graduates. That minimum WAM of 70% isn’t a hurdle. It’s a signal to say, “if you have a WAM below this, don’t bother applying.” 

Apply for vacation and summer internships

While many companies won’t hire international students without PR, they will take you on for paid internships while you are still studying. Landing an internship will go a long way to helping you get a role at a company that does hire international graduates. This is because a completed internship acts as a stamp of approval that says, ‘this kid knows their stuff and is a good worker.’ Head to our 2019 list of internships for international students to get an idea of where to apply.

Keep your nose clean

This means behave yourself. Particularly in the larger cities (Melbourne and Sydney), the academic world and the business world are interconnected. Many of your lecturers and tutors will have major connections to people at more prominent companies, and if they are asked about you, they will be honest about that the fact that you were repeatedly late or didn’t engage in class discussions, because that doesn’t look good for the way you would act in the workplace. No one wants a lazy, disinterested employee. Also, you will also need to provide an Australian referee, and your tutors and lecturers may be the only people you can ask. So it’s in your best interest to make a good impression. 

 Network network network

This is key. Groups like Data Science Melbourne, have great internship and job networking opportunities. . While COVID-19 may put a dampner on face-to-face meetings, this doesn’t stop you from attending one hosted online. 

Ok now to some graduate programs



Technology Graduate Program

“Each new employee is paired up with a guide and a coach to help with a smooth transition into Deloitte life. We provide the right kinds of tools and training to ensure all our graduates can achieve career success through mentoring, peer support and e-learning. Depending on your business unit, we offer the chance to develop further through professional study such as the Chartered Accountants Program and Masters of Tax.”

Closes: 17th Aug 2020, 11:59 pm

Location: Canberra, Paramatta, Sydney, Alice Springs, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth

Internationals: Yes

More information.


PwC Graduate Program

“As one of Australia’s leading professional services firms, we have the opportunity to create meaningful societal change. From growing trust in food production to building hope in artificial intelligence, our people create trust in society and solve important problems each day. By creating a Graduate career with us, here you’ll be provided with the opportunities you need to contribute to a ‘bigger picture’.”

Closes: Already closed but reopens Feburary 2021  (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) 24th March 2019 (Adelaide, Canberra and Newcastle)

Location: Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Newcastle

Internationals: Yes

More information.


Graduate Program

“At KPMG, we want you to discover the path that excites you most. After all, when you find a practice area you love, you’ll reach your potential that much faster. It goes without saying that we’re looking for graduates who are passionate and curious – smart individuals who are seeking a challenging and rewarding career. Here, you’ll be part of an outstanding team working across a diverse client list. You’ll be dealing with complex issues that will stretch your thinking. And you’ll have opportunities to learn and grow unlike anywhere else.”

Closes: 21st August 20210 5:00pm

Location: Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide & Regions, Melbourne and Sydney.

Internationals: Yes

More information.


Telstra Graduate Program 

“The program offers you 12 months of challenging, hands-on and rewarding work that will give you the confidence and know-how to launch your career and achieve your goals. If you’re successful, you’ll work in an environment that’s embracing ways of working like Agile, DevOps, Human Centred Design and Lean. You’ll also be able to collaborate with the best people in their field and have the knowledge that your ideas will always be welcome.”

Closes: 24th March 2019, 12:55 pm

Location: Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Telstra also have applications for positions in Asia

Internationals: Yes

Starting: Applications are now closed but will open up again in early February 2021

More Information.


Technology graduate program

“Suncorp’s Graduate Program is a two-year accelerated development program designed to equip you with the tools you need to launch your career in the corporate world. We are ranked a Top 100 Graduate Employer in AU and NZ – Join us in 2021! Our graduates will experience the opportunity to work on diversified projects, be supported by a mentor and if interested, can rotate within their business area. “

The following business areas are on offer with multiple positions for the Suncorp 2021 Graduate intake. 

  • Data & Enterprise Tech: Data Analyst (Brisbane)
  • Insurance Tech: Software Engineers (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne); Business Analyst (Brisbane); Developers (Melbourne);
  • Banking & Wealth Tech: Software Engineers (Brisbane); Systems engineer (Brisbane); Developer (Brisbane); Business analyst (Brisbane)
  • Infrastructure: System Engineer (Brisbane)
  • Cyber Security & Risk: Developer (Brisbane / Sydney); Analyst (Brisbane / Sydney)
  • Automation: Developer (Brisbane)
  • Strategy & Transformation: Developer (Brisbane)

Closes: 23rd August 2020, 5:00pm

Location: Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne.

More information

This is what we have for now, but will update this page regularly. Alternatively, you may want to look at the following companies that are either known to take on international graduates, or have stated they intended to as of 2021. 

Good luck!

  • South32
  • Rio Tinto
  • REA
  • City West Water
  • Digital Alchemy
  • Atlassian
  • AstraZeneca
  • Carlton & United Breweries
  • EML
  • FDM Group
  • Grand Metal
  • Annalect
  • SAS
  • Schneider Electric
  • Tibra Capital
  • Strategy&
  • LEK
  • TAL
  • SIG
  • WPP Consulting
  • ThoughtWorks

Photo by Husna Miskandar on Unsplash

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