"Be Realistic and Mindful"


We spoke with Daniel, a skilled migrant who is an Industrial Engineer. However, he has had difficulty gaining employment as an engineer in Australia, but has had numerous jobs in hospitality.


What is your name and background?

My name is Daniel Castrillon, I am from Columbia. I am 36 years old now. I have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. I worked in my country for about 8 years, my main experience is as a processing engineer. I worked for a restaurant chain company, like KFC, in Columbia, it is quite big, about 200 restaurant, I worked in the engineer area designing new restaurants, and a little bit of everything processing, engineering, improvement. That’s pretty much my background. Here it’s like a greyer area, I have experience but it’s quite specific. I do have a bachelor in engineering it’s not quite technical like mechanical or electrical engineering, so my career is more focused in an administrative area, processes area. So engineering here is quite technical so if I look for engineering job I don’t have the technical background to apply for them. So my experience is quite specific so it is a little bit difficult to apply for jobs.

Were you expecting that when you moved here?

Not really. The perspective is that Australia needs engineering and needs people to work, but you don’t expect it’s going to be that hard to find jobs, because the expectation is that your career is in command. So you don’t expect it’s going to be that hard.

Have you had success finding employment since moving to Australia?

No, not working at the moment. I have worked since I arrived in Australia, but basically just in hospitality, not where I was expecting to be.

What are you doing at the moment with your time?

Looking for a job, and trying to study and get some skills and something around data. You study but you don’t have experience, so it’s a little bit difficult. So I’ve done stuff with data and I have studied, but when you go to apply for the job you have no experience and they start talking about you need these requirements. So it’s like you have the degree and everything, but you need the experience so trying to apply for entry level jobs something like that to gain the experience and then try and move on. So it is very difficult.

What was some of the biggest challenges after moving to Australia?

When moving, I have, to be honest, moving to Australia for me was not like a drama. Australia is a really nice place. Most of the people are really kind and welcoming. So I cannot say like difficult things. I arrived to Brisbane, a big city and I found job quite easy. When I moved to Hobart finding a place to live was difficult, housing in Hobart is really bad right now. Finding a job in Hobart, even in hospitality was difficult and really seasonal. But in general it has been a good experience, so I cannot say like a big drama or anything.

Which type of work were you hoping to join in Australia when you first moved?

Maybe I was hoping for a change in my career, something a little different. The good thing about my job was that it was not entirely an office job, I had to visit the restaurants and construction sites. So I was happy with that balance in office job and being outside. And I know it’s difficult to find that specific kind of job. To be honest when I travelled to Australia the original plan was to just improve my English, maybe stay two years and then my plans changed to stay for the PR (permanent residency), so I need to work. But no specific plan just keep working once you get the PR. I was open to working in engineering, anything, so far I have worked 4 years in hospitality. Honestly I want to move from that, I did a diploma here so you expect to use what you have done, what you have studied and apply this to get a better, professional job.

When searching for jobs on a scale of 1 to 5, did you find the job searching process easy? (1 = more difficult, 5 = easy)

1              2              3              4              5

Very difficult

Was that specifically in the engineering field?

I think yeah, because you look, and apparently there are plenty of jobs, but either quite technical or high experience. So it’s hard to, I think unless you have the specific experience they are looking, sadly it is going to be quite difficult. Engineering jobs they are quite technical, quite specific, they are looking for something in particular. Unless you have those same attributes it’s going to be really really difficult. And it’s hard to find a place to start, if you are a migrant you don’t have the language of a native speaker and you don’t experience here in Australia. I was hoping to find a starting point, something like a training program, I have the degree but I need to gain professional experience in here, and move in a professional environment here in Australia.

And you couldn’t find any training programs?

No, it is very difficult.


With your hospitality work on a scale of 1 to 5, how comfortable/happy did you feel with your work? (1 = not at all, 5 = very comfortable and happy)

1              2              3              4              5

I have had luck, my jobs I was being treated well. Nothing to complain about. Most are very difficult jobs, very difficult, very physically demanding. But obviously you are prepared for it and you are paying your bills, getting plenty of hours it’s like OK let’s keep doing this. You know what you’re getting into, it’s not the easiest one, but if you’re able to do it, just face it and do it.

When you are applying for jobs did you feel prepared for your application process and interview for the hospitality?

To be honest I found the jobs by going to the sites. I guess hospitality works quite different, you go to the place, they give you a trial, they see you are able to run the machines and move fast to get the work done, you will get the job. Hospitality is not like the formal process, interviewing. At the basic level like kitchen hand or waitress, you just need to know someone or get lucky. For example one day I went to a place, I give them my resume, that day they happened to be looking for a kitchen hand, they give me a trail and then I got the job.  There are plenty of hospitality jobs, but you don’t see them on Seek, you just have to go and see or know someone in the business, or something like that.

What do you wish you had known before the application process and interview?

My experience here, in hospitality, is quite different from other industries. But so far my experience has been good, and I cannot complain. There are a lots of information about people treated poorly or not being paid enough, but I have been lucky so far.

You mentioned before in the job search, you had some difficulty with the experience required in the job search, was that the most difficult part of the job search for you or was there anything else that made it difficult?

There were a lot of factors, so I guess experience, lots of people applying. So far I have been applying for 1.5 months and I haven’t received a single call. I have had my resume looked at and have tried applying the keywords, but I still have not had any call backs. I guess its lack of experience, not having a PR may also stop you getting a job, and I guess companies prefer people with permanent residency and stable visa, instead of people with a temporary visa. I don’t know, maybe being a migrant, companies fear the language may be a problem.

What advice would you give to others moving to Australia?

Don’t get your expectations too high, try to be realistic and mindful or what you are going to do here. In Columbia the idea of people coming is like Australia needs the workers, they need people to work they need engineers, they need accountants, etc.; but it’s not like that. So a lot of people invest money to come to Australia based on that idea, but it’s not like that. There are agencies that get money from every single person they bring, but for example I know a lot of people they come, they invest a lot of money, but when you arrives it’s not like you get a job immediately. Some people come to learn English, but when they get here they cannot get a job, because they don’t have good enough English. And then they six months without working, so they have to go back to Columbia and then they lose a lot of money.

About MRC Tas

Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania (MRC Tas) is a not-for-profit organisation that has been supporting people from migrant and humanitarian backgrounds to settle successfully in Tasmania since 1979.

About Migrant network tasmania

Migrant Network Tasmania draws on the goodwill, stories and tips of migrants and the wider community to help fellow migrants to establish lives and careers in Tasmania.