Success Story: International student rising star in cybersecurity

Breaking News Update: Amith Raj, Master of IT Graduate Majoring in Cybersecurity Awarded Global Talent Permanent Visa.

The Department of Home Affairs pilot program “Global Talent Independent Program” is resourced with Global Talent Officers all around the world whose role it is to headhunt talent. Once such Officer reached out to Amith on LinkedIn to see if he was interested in lodging a visa application via the Global Talent Program and advised that his profile looked promising.

Amith expressed his interest and provided referral letters from 5 different companies and industry growth centres he has worked with to meet eligibility criteria. He also showed his research papers and patent citations which added value to past and current projects he is leading in Australia. Under this program, Amith’s application was given the highest priority processing and the visa was approved within 2 months.

This visa is only given to the top 1% of highly skilled applicants all around the world. Only 5000 visas are issued and Amith was granted his Permanent Visa which allows him to stay in Australia indefinitely and makes him eligible for Australian Citizenship next year.

You can find more about this visa here

Amith Raj came across Ribit at a university fair and joined Ribit’s talented community as an international student, not expecting to land an amazing role so quickly and before graduating. 

Majoring in Cybersecurity aligned his skills to the needs of Stone and Chalk’s business, and when Ribit matched him online to this part-time opportunity he grabbed it with both hands.

Receiving an invitation to apply for this job was a direct consequence of updating his profile on Ribit, which we encourage all students to do. Following a series of interviews, Amith landed the job, which was highly relevant to his studies, and went on to become a full-time employee and an important member of the Stone and Chalk team.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your topic of study and motivation

My name is Amith Raj, I studied at Macquarie University and graduated with a Masters of Information Technology Degree majoring in cybersecurity.

When I finished high school, I knew I wanted to do something within engineering & science, but I didn’t know which stream best suited me. I considered electronics engineering, but I really loved computers alot, I was a very good gamer. I wanted to spend more time with computers and learn how they worked and operated, so I decided to do a Bachelor’s in IT. Once I started the course I quickly discovered that I really enjoyed the information security subjects, particularly how we protect information within the systems we build. 

I contributed to a couple of international and national conference papers on the subject of cybersecurity, and an IEEE paper. These research papers were cited by various academics and in reputed patents. I found myself deep into cybersecurity research and really wanted to pursue this further, this motivated me to do a Master’s in cybersecurity here in Sydney.

How did you find the experience of studying at university?

The best thing about being a university student is that you get to learn while enjoying all the facilities, like the libraries, the bar, and the events. You also make a lot of friends. Fun and constant learning is the kind of life I think everyone would like to have.

Most students are working part time while studying and making sure they submit assignments on time, and also taking care of daily life chores, like cooking, cleaning, washing. Work/study/life balance is challenging when you have too many things to manage, it can be hard find. 

How did you prepare to find work upon graduation?

Before I graduated I had already applied for my current role at Stone and Chalk. I registered on Ribit while I was still studying and had almost forgotten about it. After updating my profile, I received an email inviting me to apply for this job via the Ribit platform. I was matched online and recommended for the job. I was thrilled as the job ticked all my boxes, it was part-time, relevant to my studies, and with a reputable company operating in the startup emerging technology sector, so I applied instantly. Once I graduated, Stone and Chalk offered me full-time employment. 

Tell us about Stone and Chalk and how you fit in?

Stone and Chalk is an impact network that supports start-ups and scale-ups across various emerging technology sectors including  fintech, defence, cybersecurity, agtech and proptech to name a few. Stone and Chalk is also the biggest dedicated start-up and scale-up innovation community in Australia with major hubs in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, so staying connected through technology is paramount.

When I first joined the team in a part-time role my title was ‘Networks and Digital Services Coordinator,’ and I was mostly working with the network service providers and doing system administration tasks. Now that I’m full-time I have a whole lot of other responsibilities, which includes cybersecurity and other risk factors. I’ve been with the organisation for three years and my roles and responsibilities have evolved as my career moves more towards the cybersecurity domain, which is where I see my future heading.

As a student looking for work what challenges did you face?

When I came to Australia as an international student, I didn’t have a job lined up or much work experience. My visa meant I could only work 40 hours per fortnight.

I was pretty sure that no one would hire a person who can’t work full time, which most of the IT jobs required, and I kept that in mind while searching for jobs. 

I worked for Uber Eats on a bicycle and I kept applying for jobs, mostly in retail industries, because I was not confident that I would even get an interview in IT. Then Ribit sent me an email saying you’re invited to apply for this job and it was the first and only IT job I applied for.

There were almost five rounds of interviews. They really liked my skills, that I’d been working, and the projects that I’d been involved with in during university days.They thoroughly vetted me and after meeting with the General Manager of Stone and Chalk Sydney, the last round, I was guaranteed a job. I couldn’t hold back the happy tears, it was really emotional for me because it’s very difficult for an international student here to get a job in IT, or any study relevant fields they want to work in.  Landing the job at Stone and Chalk has been my biggest triumph.

What motivated you to register on Ribit?

I read about Ribit at a university fair and later, remembering it was a student jobs platform, became curious. I registered because it was free and it was easy to set up my profile, plus I thought I’ve nothing to lose. Ribit allows you to enter your skills, specifically, instead of prioritising work experience which most students don’t have, so that the recommendation system can match you with the employer’s needs.

Have there been any standout moments in your career or in your university experience you would like to share?

After I graduated from Macquarie with my cybersecurity Master’s and started working full-time with Stone and Chalk, a friend was working with a company called Trendspek. After meeting some of the Trendspek team at an event, they invited me in for a chat and offered me some casual part-time employment. I have since then been their Head of Cybesecurity for the past year, working with them on a part-time basis, like a side-gig, and sometimes on weekends. Recently I helped the company achieve their ISO 27001 certification, which is the international information security standard in the trusted domain. So I’m very proud of this achievement, the company took a chance on me and I’m very happy that I grabbed the opportunity and delivered what they needed.

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