You are Not Your Job!


The Millennial Career Dilemma Series – Article No 12 – By Shubika Bilkha


Macroeconomic factors and the limitations on the issuance of work visas for foreign citizens has hindered the career plans of a number of international students in key educational hubs like the US, UK, Canada, Australia. After spending close to a fortune on their premium undergraduate, masters and MBA degrees, these graduates are left scrambling for any role that will ‘sponsor’ them or alternatively, find themselves safely back on a flight to their home country.


Over the last few months, I have worked with a number of Career Coaching clients across Countries who are in exactly this situation. From feelings of personal failure, to added pressure by families to feeling less adequate among their peers or just guilty of having given a low return on their education spends, these young graduates are facing a number of internal battles. This “job” now signifies so much more and is almost a definition of their identity.


As governments battle to ease visa norms, educational institutions fear a decline in enrollments and companies actively look for solutions, what can a young graduate reliant entirely on visa sponsorship and the right opportunity do to improve their work prospects?


While graduates and their families need to remind themselves that these are forces largely outside of their control and they are so much more than a “job”, if you do find yourself near the finish line to your visa extension and without work here are some suggestions to remain proactive:


Make a list of all that you have done for your job search

This could help you identify untapped areas, highlight specific trends, as well as serve as a proud reminder that you really have given it your all.


Work Smart

Don’t spend all day and night going through the endless opportunities on your college career portal or on Linkedin. It only serves to exhaust and confuse you further. Prioritize, research and focus your search to your strengths. Narrow in only on companies willing to sponsor a work visa and let them know your restrictions up front.  Have dedicated time slots in your day/week for job hunting and spend the rest of the time focused on actively working to “close” the deal.


Use the time to understand YOU

Take a step back from the job search and use this time to get more self-aware by identifying your motivations, values and strengths. By being self-aware you will have greater clarity on your professional goals and be better positioned to speak with conviction at your next interview.

Get out there more

Build relationships, attend specific career fairs and use this time to catapult your professional networks. You never know where these might take you in due course!


Find a mentor

Look through the alumni networks, set up coffee meetings and find someone who could serve as a guide for your career. If your college has a mentorship program, make sure to sign up to it. I reach out to my mentors even today!


Broaden your reach

Don’t forget to list out work opportunities, professional and alumni networks in Countries where you can legally work or in industries where it might be easier to get a sponsorship. You never know, your dream job may just be back at home!


Get a GIG

With the advent of the GIG economy, you can begin by offering your services on a consulting or freelance basis or as an internship. A GIG could turn into long-term work, serve as a way to earn some cash or just keep you in the game while you find that dream job!


Learn a new skill

Don’t spend all day stressing about getting work. Use this period to do something different with your time- get an accreditation, upgrade your tech skills, learn a language etc. You never know what opportunity could be available for your newly acquired skill!


Believe in You

Don’t forget to do some self-nurturing and stay positive through it all. Put the best version of you out there to attract the best opportunity. Make friends, contacts and enjoy the learning and self-discovery process. The rest will follow suit.Remember, have some FUN: Go out, meet your friends and do the things you enjoy the most. The important person in all of this is afterall YOU, not your “job”!



About the Author

Shubika Bilkha is currently the Founding Partner of Edpower-U. She is a dynamic entrepreneur, trained executive coach, media spokesperson, author and corporate advisor with experience that spansthe financial, technology, ecommerce, education and real estate sectors in India and Internationally. As the managing Director of two early stage start-ups in technology and education, Shubika has hands on experience in all aspects of these businesses. She was recently the Managing Director of a leading vocational training institute in India and has worked with a number of leaders across industry, government and the educational ecosystem in India and the UK.


She is also a published author with her first book widely distributed. Shubika is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College, USA and Columbia Business School, USA; an Associate Member of the Chartered Securities Institute (CSI) in the UK; and has completed the “Building Excellence in Higher Educational Institutions” at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. She is a trained Executive Coach with CTI, UK in line with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) ACC guidelines.


For more information on Edpower-U’s Career Coaching services please write in to


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