Mina Gurgis


Mina is from Egypt and studied a Bachelor of Telecommunications, Engineering and Computer Science at the University of New South Wales.  He has shared with us his experience of studying as a international student in New South Wales. Take a look:


What did you study and at which institution?

Bachelor of Telecommunications, Engineering and Computer Science (Double Degree) at the University of New South Wales.

Why did you decide to study in Sydney/Australia?

I was looking for high quality tertiary education just before finishing my high school, so a number of countries and universities were on my target list including Sydney, Australia. I was also looking to live in a safe city with good weather, lifestyle and people. Since my uncle lives in Sydney, I chose Sydney over the other destinations.

What were your first impressions of Sydney/your institution?

My first impressions of UNSW were great! I felt that I was at the best university for my degree in Australia, and highly regarded worldwide.

What was it like studying ie learning/teaching style, interactions with academics and other students such as group work?

It was hard work! I wasn’t used to group work and had to learn that the hard way.

What soft skills did you develop studying in NSW?

The soft skills I learnt during my study at university were communication, working in a team, presenting, managing my time, self-dependency and resilience.

What clubs or other activities did you get involved in during study?

I got involved in a number of clubs: Formula SAE race car with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), friendly soccer matches with university friends, swimming at the University’s athletics centre and Fellowship of Orthodox University Students (FOCUS).

What is your experience of the lifestyle?

I love the nature here in Australia. I’ve been to a number of beaches, reserve parks, and bush areas. I never get bored from visiting the same place again!

Were you supported as an international student? 

The most support was from the careers office. They helped me prepare my cover letter and resume, as well as prepare for interviews and career fairs. I attended a number of workshops and also individual appointments with career officers.

What was your experience of finding an internship/applying for a graduate role/starting your career?

Finding a job as an international student was not easy. Very few companies offered internships and graduate roles for international students, most companies required Australian Permanent Residence Visa at the very least. I went through many of the graduate career booklets that were handed out during the career fairs and most advertisements mentioned the visa condition. Some of them didn’t, and only after I went through the online application process, submitting my resume and cover letter that I got an email saying that the company does not accept applications from international students!

During one of my computer networking subjects, the lecturer invited a software engineer from Avaya to be the guest lecturer for one of the lectures about Voice Over IP protocols. I was very interested in the topic and got in touch with my lecturer who then put me in touch with Avaya to organise my internship! As for my graduate role, this was a pure coincidence. I was walking down the corridor in the School of Electrical Engineering building going to my class and came across a notice board which had a small advertisement about a graduate program at a company called Integrated Research (IR) for software engineers. The advertisement did not have the famous clause about not accepting international students, nor did the website, so I applied. I joined IR right after graduating and stayed with them for 7 years.

What led you to mentor other students? 

I believe that many people helped me during my time at university and it’s now my turn to give back. Not only do I get that feeling of satisfaction when I help someone out with a struggle that I have been through myself, but I also get the chance to reflect on my own experiences and think about what I could have done better (and offer it as an advice) and avoid doing the same mistakes in the future.

What advice do you have for students thinking about studying abroad?

Be ready to be self dependent by taking responsibility for your actions and studies while you're at home. It's a safe environment for you to practice rather than learning it the hard way when you're abroad.

What are your medium to long term goals?

Apply the skills I'm learning from the MBA degree I'm currently pursuing and the technical skills from my technology background to help communities grow and make this world a better place.

What is your advice to international students in Australia?

I feel that the number one issue that faced me and my fellow international student colleagues was finding our way into the Australian workforce. My advice would be to make the most use out of the university careers office and events run at the uni! They are there to help you and guide you to the Australian workforce. Attend their workshops, career events and book individual sessions with the officers, most if not all of these services are free of charge!