Work after Study: My Experience with the Post-Graduation Work Permit
By Elizabeth Brin
I chose to study in BC for various reasons: I wanted to be an international student again–an invaluable experience that compares to no other travel experience I’ve ever had; I liked that there was an opportunity to stay in BC after graduation on the Post-Graduation Work Permit; and the third reason, I’ll admit, was the accessibility to one of the most spectacular coastlines and mountain ranges I have ever visited.
After finishing school, the legal switch from a student visa to a post-graduation work permit was as easy as taking a drive across the border for a Trader Joe’s run–only this time I did what they call Flag Polling . After getting my application together I drove across the US border, immediately turned around and applied for the visa right then. The whole process took less than 2.5 hours, including driving time.
The actual transition from being a full-time student/researcher into a full-time professional again was a bit more challenging. While I had some work-related leads, most of my connections were in academia rather than the professional field. Over the last year, what I’ve learned is that Vancouver is a small, tightly knit community and that it takes time to break in. But once you do, the opportunities do eventually present themselves.
While my experiences come from the perspective of a graduate student in Vancouver, BC, below is some advice that I think can be of value to any international student transitioning out of school and into the BC work force.
1.) Make connections early on: Put yourself out there, volunteer, intern, and get involved while you are still a student. Take advantage of the new off campus work-permit. This is especially crucial for graduate students not looking to pursue academia, since we are not eligible for most work-study programs and it is easy to get lost in the land of research!
2.) Take advantage of alumni benefits: Often you are provided services, whether it is career planning, or access to the international support house, for a year after you graduate. Once you have left the school setting, there are no longer built-in structures of support, so use the ones you already have.
3.) Be patient: Finding a job takes time and requires meeting the right people. Set up informational interviews, follow-up in a timely manner, and don’t get discouraged.