From international student to lawyer, to an entrepreneurship expert, CEO of The FRANK Team, Natasha Munasinghe, shares her knowledge on the building blocks of professional success.
We all have dreams. Dreams of a future filled with opportunities, prosperity and happiness. This is one of the reasons why many international students make the brave (and sometimes scary) decision to leave everyone and everything they know to come to Australia to pursue an education.
A degree is just the beginning
However, while we may have come to Australia in pursuit of their dreams, what students need to remember is that studying towards a degree, or having a tertiary degree, is often not enough. It’s actually just the beginning.
You need to take charge of setting yourself up for professional success. In other words, your degree is a springboard to professional success, not a determining factor.
You will need professional experience, transferrable soft and hard skills, and the culturally ‘correct’ attitudes to fit into the professional Australian context.
Whether you as a student dream of becoming part of a big already established business, of working within the not-for-profit sector, or of becoming an entrepreneur, it is also important to find inner passion and confidence.
Take me for example. I came to Australia as an international student from Sri Lanka and the Fiji Islands, but the degree I undertook did not determine my future. I went from student to lawyer, to entrepreneur.
I realised I had a passion for entrepreneurship and for supporting young people to achieve their dreams – and decided to pursue exactly that.
Today, I run my own business as well as train and mentor young people across Australia to find their own professional path – sometimes as entrepreneurs.
Embrace your skills and strengths
At The FRANK Team, we believe one of the key advantages young people have is their fresh and adaptable mindsets. The younger generations are often innovative, energetic and creative – some fundamental qualities needed in the present rapidly evolving job market.
International students in particular, come with a wealth of multicultural knowledge in languages, people engagement, business and judicial structures. This knowledge, when combined with your study experience in Australia enables you to become experts at performing ‘hybridity’ (i.e. a way of sustaining your ‘old’ cultural identity, as well as developing a new ‘Australian’ cultural identity in parallel).
You can ‘float’ between multiple personal and professional dimensions, and this is a key skill in today’s global job market and makes you a great asset to global companies.
How to start on your entrepreneurship path
For those of you who have a business idea you dream of pursuing, here are a few key insights from The Frank Team on entrepreneurship I’d like to share with you:
- Back your idea – persevere with it but be willing to change along the way. Dream big, but set realistic goals.
- Find others that share your passion and hunger. Collaboration and mentoring is key and will help a long way.
- Be prepared for (lots) of mistakes. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Make sure you enjoy the everyday life as an entrepreneur, it’s not just about the end goal. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Get comfortable being a juggler. As an entrepreneur you will often perform multiple professional roles within the business structure. If you’re the CEO, you may also be the administrative officer, recruitment manager, finance manager, sales manager as well as the people manager.
Natasha Munasinghe is a lawyer and the CEO of The FRANK Team – one of Australia’s largest training providers working with 88,000 young people and young professionals. She will be sharing her expertise at the upcoming Melbourne International Student Conference, leading students through the basic of entrepreneurship during the Young Upstarts Business Pitch Competition.