Atal Samad came here as an international student in 2013. He now works at Global Victoria, helping international students build careers in Victoria.
Atal Samad arrived in Melbourne from Afghanistan in 2013 as an international student studying a Master of International Relations at the University of Melbourne. Reflecting on his time as an international student, he says Australia always felt like home.
“I’ve lived in so many countries but coming to Australia I really connected with the culture and the people. It wasn’t only about my university or what I was studying but about the culture and making friends, building relationships with people,” he said.
Atal graduated in 2015 and worked as a research assistant at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University before taking up a role as a policy officer in the Victorian Government.
Having worked for several government departments, Atal wanted to help connect with international students and share stories to help inspire their own pathways. He says that he wants to show current students that nothing’s impossible and that you can take your career in any direction you like.
“For me, working part time while studying was the main way I managed to get a job after graduating. It doesn’t matter what type of work you have when you’re studying – it can be retail or hospitality – you'll still learn skills that help you start your career,” Atal said.
“My degree also helped me change my mindset. When I came to Australia, I learnt how to shape my ideas and how to look at things differently. The way we are taught at university here made me think more critically, be more innovative and more open-minded,” he said.
Working for the Victorian Government has given Atal the opportunity to help international students succeed.
In 2021 he worked on the Everyday Heroes program with Study Melbourne, featuring events to help build skills for study, work and life.
In 2022 Everyday Heroes has expanded through the Study Melbourne Empowered initiative, which provides international students with career development opportunities, leadership skills and events to connect with other international students.
Atal says that working with Study Melbourne has let him share his own experiences and add his voice to designing programs for international students.
“I started working in government because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and coming from a different background, I know it’s important to bring voices of different communities and different perspectives to discussions.”
“As a former international student, I always felt there was lack of support in transitioning students from a university environment to the job market. Being a part of the Empowered Series is a rewarding way to provide much needed guidance and help students adjust to their post graduate life.”
His work with Global Victoria allows him to use his personal experience and passion to help the Victorian Government support international students to succeed and provide a life-changing student experience.
Fiona Letos, Director of International Education at the Victorian Government, says that Atal’s student experience helps to ensure students are properly supported through their work at the department.
“Atal brings amazing passion and experience to our international education team, and his commitment to improving the student experience means that students are always at the centre of our work.”
She believes that international students working within the department help bolster Victoria’s reputation as a world-class study destination.
“It’s rewarding to see international students who have studied at our universities endeavour to contribute back by working with the Victorian Government – it provides an invaluable student perspective to our team,” she said.
To learn more about Empowered Series, visit Study Melbourne.