Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Crumbling currencies around the world are raising alarms for international students. “Can I survive a recession?” are top of the mind of fresh graduates and those soon to complete uni.

The economic situation is worrying students. Many are unsure whether they can secure a job in their preferred fields or whether they can afford to extend their visa while working odd jobs to sustain themselves. These questions hang in the air. 

We witnessed the lasting scars of the pandemic which brought economies to their knees and students graduating into an uncertain job market. History has shown a trend that when career prospects grow dim, graduates set their sights on postgraduate studies. After the 2008 financial crisis, for example, a third of students considered another degree to survive the tough employment market.

While this might be feasible for some, there are others who struggle to even cope with the spike in living costs, let alone afford a postgraduate degree. As the global recession continues to affect the world, a silver lining presents itself where students are offered a chance to step back and re-evaluate their priorities after graduation.

Broaden your focus 

Though companies may be slowing down on their hiring or even laying off employees, you should take this as an opportunity to broaden your focus on a specific aspect of your ideal job. If you are interested in breaking into the tech industry, for example, think of related areas where you can get a toehold and use that as a stepping stone. 

If money is not an issue, applying for a master’s degree might be the next best option. Take the opportunity to look for scholarships, loans or bursaries that can help you fund your master’s to ride out the recession. 

During such uncertain times, don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to come by. Instead, create those opportunities for yourself. Consider viable options to refine your skills and learn new ones to be career-ready by the time companies start actively hiring. 

Consider doing an internship or volunteering

It’s a blessing in disguise to be unemployed and underemployed in a recession. Why? For one, time is on your side but how you choose to spend that time matters greatly. 

Internships and volunteering are great alternatives to doing a master’s. An internship will not only help you gain relevant skills and insight into your chosen field, but you are also earning side income that can help you stay afloat. If you consider giving back through volunteering, this also adds up to your CV and proves to future recruiters that you chose to be productive. 

Other than that, doing an internship or volunteering for organisations encourages you to build a professional network and connect with relevant leaders. You’ll never know when those contacts will come in handy for references.

To survive a session, invest in yourself


It’s never too late to make that switch into a field where labour is in demand. Source: Loic Venance/AFP

It may sound cliche but investing in yourself during a recession is highly beneficial. This doesn’t just refer to money and time but also effort. Take the initiative to upskill yourself with online courses that award you with certifications upon completion or even self-learn website building. There are endless learning possibilities out there. 

Have concerns that your chosen field might not be striving during the recession? Don’t worry. It’s never too late to make that switch into a field where labour is in demand. Taking online courses to pick up relevant skills in a different industry is a slightly more cost-effective way than applying for a master’s if you’re still undecided on a career path. 

Making comparisons with your peers is natural but it’s especially during these times that you tear up that mental timeline, focus on the present and work to better yourself.


Most graduates plan to stay back in the country for post-study work opportunities. However, visa extensions or re-applying for visas might be extra costs to you as an international student. Question is: are obtaining work visas in a recession still possible?

Some countries still offer students post-study work opportunities that grant them a period of time to seek employment with the possibility of changing their visa type. For example, the UK’s Graduate Route permits you to stay for a job experience at the end of your university programmes. Though you cannot extend your Graduate visa after two years, you can switch to a different visa, for example, a Skilled Worker visa.