This start-up helps international students ease into Australia’s work and study climate

This start-up helps international students ease into Australia’s work and study climate

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Stephen Zuluaga and Silva Wei

Students deciding to pursue work or study overseas face many challenges. One of the hardest parts of being a student is working out the best approach to enter their desired industry, this is especially challenging for international students. In every country there are cultural differences, these differences are particularly difficult for students transitioning from eastern to western cultures.

In addition to cultural differences, students face the challenge of learning a new language, and adapting to speaking fluently and eloquently in a professional context. These challenges are foreign concepts to their local peers.

A concept born of differences

Silva Wei and Stephen Zuluaga both worked in IT and education, however their experiences and challenges in their professional development have been extremely contrasting.

Originally from Guangzhou, China, Silva experienced first-hand the challenges international students face in Australia while Stephen, who is originally from Melbourne, Australia, understands the professional and educational landscape in Australia well.

Together using their similarities, but more importantly their key differences, the two came up with the concept of Peer Camp, an educational support resource that aims to provide students with the means of better understanding the work and study climate in Australia.

Silva Wei
Silva Wei

“Founding Peer Camp with Silva showed me there were so many things I took for granted as a student trying to make an entry into my career.”

Stephen felt a lot of his ability to find and build a professional network in his industry was based on language and an understanding of the Australian culture as a local.

“When I was an international student, the hardest thing was to find a job in the local workforce,” says Silva, “International students need more support in terms of meeting their professional goals outside their home country.”

Silva found that often what students learn in formal education is not enough to provide them with sufficient confidence, resources and networking skills to achieve their professional goals.

Power Coffee Meetup 2016What exactly does Peer Camp do?

While the impact on international and local students is felt differently, Silva and Stephen, drawing from their own experiences, feel that all students can benefit from support in their professional development. Peer Camp provides students with the tools to save the cost of valuable time in assisting them to get a start on their desired career path.

Silva and Stephen believe many issues students face trying to enter their profession are common across all young people. Furthermore the co-founders have found what is right for one person might not be ideal for another. Different industries require different skill sets and abilities of their professionals. The challenge of meeting and understanding these skills is relevant to both local and international students.

An important part of students’ ability to finding their professional path is through the use of networking with their peers. Often students overlook the potential of relationships they develop during their studies to form the basis of their own professional network. It’s also important for students to be able to address and develop skill gaps that lie between them just getting an interview and securing the position they are after.

Personal Branding Workhop 2016Lastly, Silva and Stephen found the key areas young professionals are lacking include practical employability skills such as leadership, time management, communication and interpersonal skills. Silva and Stephen put a lot of focus on building Peer Camp around these ideas of community and peer support.

Peer Camp delivers their support through products such as workshops, one-on-one coaching, online learning modules and networking events. While Peer Camp is currently focusing providing job application support and interview skills, in the future, they also plan to expand their services with partnerships with local companies to offer industry insights and internship opportunities.

Understanding how difficult it can be for students to make a solid start into their career, Peer Camp is focussed on helping people take control of their professional futures.

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