Natcha Wannaklang is a 4th-year BComm student majoring in accounting. She is originally from Thailand and came to Canada to pursue her undergraduate degree in Commerce at Dalhousie. Despite being an international student immersed in an unfamiliar country and speaking another language, Natcha was able to secure three work terms in Canada and fast-track her professional development. Keep reading to get inspired by Natcha’s work term success!
When asked about the biggest job search challenge she has had to face being an international student, Natcha says that it was difficult to make connections when all of your past work experience is in another country.
“It is hard to get your foot in the door for an interview with companies when your past work experience isn’t in Canada. Since I am from Thailand, all my work experience was in another language and culture, and I was trying to find work in a country I didn’t have any personal connections in. Even though I grew up speaking another language, I am fully capable of working in English, as are many other international students.”
Working in the small, rural community of Inverness during her second co-op work term at Cabot Links presented Natcha with a greater feeling of culture shock than she had experienced before. But it helped that her employers and co-workers were very welcoming, and all the workers were very close.
“When I first moved to Inverness, I lived in staff accommodations where I got to meet many of my coworkers who I now consider my friends. Since many of the workers at Cabot Links are from all over the country, having workplace events really helped bring everyone together and feel more a part of the team”.
One of the greatest strengths Natcha believes she brings to her employers as an international student is her diverse background and culture. Growing up in a different culture than most of her classmates and peers gives her the competitive edge of having a unique perspective. According to Natcha, sometimes a different perspective leads to a new way to solve a problem. This proved especially useful when tasked with finding solutions to problems during her work terms.
“Having multiple perspectives and approaches for solving problems is always beneficial because it allows a company to listen to new ideas and find a better way to achieve the goal at hand”.
Although Natcha has experienced challenges finding a co-op work term, she says her experience has been nothing but positive when it comes to personal and professional development. One of the most difficult aspects of being an international student is not knowing the culture of your host country. Natcha says that all three of her co-op work term employers went above and beyond and were welcoming and supportive throughout her employment. From helping to update her resume and cover letter, to engaging her in team building activities, Natcha says she has felt comfortable from the beginning.
When asked about what type of advice Natcha would give to fellow international students who are looking to make the most out of their co-op work terms, she says to work hard and make sure to get out of your comfort zone.
“Finding a co-op placement is never easy, so by working hard and applying to a lot of job openings, it increases the chances that you will find a co-op that you will like and will help you to further your future career. My work terms have resulted in going out of comfort zone by working in a communications role, moving to a small town in Cape Breton for work, and working in an industry I wasn’t very familiar with. The great thing about my work terms was that each one gave me the experience I needed to find work after I graduate”.
Pro Tip:Optimize your job application by tailoring your resume and cover letter to align your skills and experience with the specific job description and qualifications.
Want to learn more about finding work in Canada? Check out our e-learning webinar “Beginners guide – the job search in Canada” under the Resources section of myCareer.