The Best Jobs for International Students and How to Get Them

So you’ve signed up for a course with Lonsdale Institute. Good for you! You’ve reviewed your accommodation options, read through our FAQs, explored what student life will be like, researched the local area and you’re getting to know Australian slang. There’s only one more thing to do – find yourself a part-time job.

Working in Australia when studying

Working while you study in Australia is a great idea. You’ll widen your network and have experiences that will help you gain the ‘soft skills’ needed for a future full-time job, and it will also help you to understand and speak better English. And of course, it also boosts your bank balance – allowing more freedom to enjoy what this beautiful country has to offer.

Most student visas allow you to work up to 40 hours per fortnight while your course is in session, and unrestricted hours during scheduled course breaks. But not every visa is the same, so do your research. You can find out more on the Department of Home Affairs website.

You will need a job that fits around your studies, and an employer who understands that your studies are the main reason you are in Australia. A supportive boss can make all the difference when juggling work, life and study.
Traditionally, flexible jobs include:

Waitress or waiter

Both Sydney and Melbourne are home to hundreds of cafes, hotels, pubs and restaurants who need staff to wait on tables. Your job will be to take orders, communicate them to the kitchen, serve these orders, stay attuned to the needs of your customers, and ensure your customers leave the establishment satisfied.

Being a waiter or waitress is not always an easy job. The work can be physically demanding as you are on your feet for long periods of time and often rushing about. It can, however, be financially rewarding, with good service sometimes leading to good tips.

Skill words for your resume include:

  • Communication: you must be an attentive listener.
  • Problem-solving: you should be able to meet the needs of the customer even when they are not being entirely reasonable.
  • Personable: you will often be the first introduction to a restaurant and a friendly smile goes a long way.
  • Efficient: working effectively at a fast pace is critical.
  • Enthusiastic: you will need to multitask and maintain energy throughout service.

Kitchen or catering assistant

Kitchen and catering assistants varies depending on where you work, but generally you can expect to manage all aspects of hygiene (washing dishes, wiping surfaces, disposing of waste etc), prepare ingredients (washing, peeling, chopping etc), organising the store room, and unload deliveries from suppliers.

The work environment of a kitchen or catering assistant is often noisy and busy, so you need to stay calm under pressure. You must also be a good communicator to work alongside chefs, waitresses and restaurant managers.

Skill words for your resume include:

  • Teamwork: you must be willing to work with a range of different staff and suppliers.
  • Efficient: a kitchen is a fast-paced environment during service and you must be able to keep up.
  • Interest in food: a love of food is always appreciated when you are working and handling it.
  • Hygiene: it’s important to have high levels of personal hygiene.
  • Stress management: you will need to work calmly under pressure.

Retail sales

Working in retail sales, you will be tasked with helping customers once they enter your store. This can include helping them find what they are looking for, assisting with sizes of clothing, recommending products and handling payments at the counter. You will also need to manage stock and the cleaning of the store.

The types of stores that offer retail roles vary widely, from supermarket chains like Woolworths, Coles and ALDI to discount department stores like Big W, Target and Kmart. There are also fashion retailers, high-end department stores, electronic shops and homeware suppliers to name but a few.

Skill words for your resume include:

  • Attention to detail: be it giving the exact change from the till or arranging window displays, attention to detail is key.
  • Persuasiveness: a good sales assistant can encourage people to make purchases.
  • Product knowledge: good product knowledge is the perfect sales pitch.
  • Customer service: retail assistants need to be friendly, positive and helpful at all times.
  • Numeracy: from estimating stock needs, understanding store trends and adding up discounts numeracy knowledge helps.


If your English isn’t that great, a job as a cleaner can be a good option. Cleaning doesn’t require you to have good English or communication skills. More often than not, employers also don’t require previous experience.

Cleaning offers a great deal of flexibility as you can work early mornings, nights, or around your study times. You can choose from commercial cleaning (shops, offices, restaurants, daycare centres, pubs etc) or residential cleaning (houses, apartments etc). You’ll need to have a reasonable level of fitness as cleaning can be quite tiring.

Skill words for your resume include:

  • Reliable: businesses in particular rely on tight cleaning schedules.
  • Trustworthy: cleaners are often left on their own and therefore need to be trusted.
  • Time-management: you need to manage your time effectively to ensure requirements are met.
  • Self-motivated: working on your own, you need to be able to push yourself to work hard.
  • Attention to detail: the ability to focus and be thorough.

Call-centre agent

Working in a call centre can mean you’re essentially paid to practice your English. You’ll need to speak English throughout your shift, and you need to be able to understand what callers are saying. It’s the ultimate test of English knowledge.

As a call centre agent your role will be to provide quality support to the caller on the other end of the line. To accomplish this you will need to remember as much as possible about the company you are working for. This memory challenge can help your study sessions too.

Skill words for your resume include:

  • Calm under pressure: people that ring call centres are often frustrated or confused and it’s your job to calm them down and offer a solution. You must be able to think under pressure and be flexible in your approach to communication.
  • Enthusiasm: call centre agents often repeat the same words over and over again and this can lead to complacency. Enthusiasm will keep boredom at bay.
  • Multitasking: you will need to juggle multiple tasks at once (i.e. checking the knowledge base, updating CRM, taking notes in helpdesk) all while attending to caller needs.
  • Friendly: every time you speak to a customer you are the voice of the company. Friendliness is of therefore a priority.
  • Good listener: as well as be able to talk to your callers you will need to really listen to them, digest the information, and convey a solution in a timely manner.


Being a bartender is a wonderfully social job that alleviates the feelings of ‘missing out’ – synonymous with working evenings and weekends. It’s fun, lively, a great way to practice your English, and also for getting to know new people.

Being a bartender, you will be responsible for taking orders, making drinks and handling money. You may also need to clear and clean tables, wash glasses, empty ashtrays, restock shelves, change kegs and manage problems with customers. Importantly, you’ll need to talk to your customers to ensure they feel welcome.

Skill words for your resume include:

  • Outgoing: it helps if you thrive in a lively atmosphere.
  • Teamwork: bars are often small, confined spaces and you need to work well with others.
  • Tact and diplomacy: difficult situations arise in pubs, bars and clubs thanks to alcohol and you need to manage this effectively and sensitively.
  • Numeracy: good maths skills can help when handling money in a fast-paced environment.
  • Physical fitness and stamina: hours can be long and late and shifts are spent on your feet, which can be tiring.

Here at Lonsdale we’re committed to giving our students the best information to make their learning experience great. Read more great articles about studying in Australia on our blog here.

If you’re interested in becoming a Lonsdale student, visit our Courses page here and enrol today in your future.

Here’s an idea! Get the skills you need for Melbourne’s coffee scene

Coffee Training – Beginners

This course provides you with current and relevant skills preparing you for or enhancing existing employment in the Hospitality Industry. In this barista course for beginners, you will get hands on training on a commercial coffee machine and grinder.