“As soon as I heard the borders were opening, I booked one of the first flights to get here” shares Dhairyaraj Jhala. Dhairyaraj is an international student and ICMS brand ambassador from Gujarat in India. Dhairyaraj studies his Master of Management (Tourism & Hospitality) at the International College of Management in Sydney, Australia. Dhairyaraj is part of the community of hundreds of ICMS students, and tens of thousands of international students that were locked out of Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. To recall, Australia closed its borders to international students from the 20th of March 2020 to the 15th of December 2021. Dhairyaraj waited eighteen months to get onshore and study his Master of Management (Tourism & Hospitality) at ICMS.
During the lockdown Dhairyaraj undertook one semester of his postgraduate degree in the August intake but decided to defer his studies until February of 2022 to complete his course onshore in Australia. During the COVID-19 pandemic Dhairyaraj felt that it was an emotional rollercoaster trying to get to Sydney. “I felt I really put my life on hold during the pandemic. I was trying to be productive as I could and was helping my dad in his business. I gave him some ideas on how to expand and so forth, but I was so close to giving up, but thanks to my dad, my country agent Manish Desai, my lecturers, and my classmates I received the support I needed to stay positive and focused on getting to Australia”.
Now, more resilient and enthusiastic than ever, Dhairyaraj feels no bitterness towards the lockdowns nor the time it took to get to Sydney because “it was all worth waiting for”.
Studying at ICMS in Sydney has “far exceeded my expectations, in fact, I look forward to Monday when I can start my week off studying in Manly”.
Just four months after arriving in Sydney, Dhairyaraj takes the ferry from Circular Quay, arrives at Manly Wharf and takes the free ICMS shuttle bus up to the picturesque Castle on the Hill. Dhairyaraj is elated that he has finally met so many of his classmates and lecturers in person, whilst also making new friends and connections as he goes about his trimester. What’s more, is he has become more involved in the Castle Life as a brand ambassador, candidly sharing his experience of being an Indian student in Australia on his Instagram profile @ayyyitsjalala.
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs in the banking and snack foods industries, Dhairyaraj has been brought up to look for opportunities wherever they present themselves. It was his passion for making people happy, coupled with his culture that influenced his decision to study a hospitality related degree at ICMS in Australia. “Hospitality is like a culture in India and Australia is renowned for its tourism and hospitality industry so I thought with my culture and the experience I could gain; it was a great fit”.
In 2019, Dhairyaraj realised that his Bachelor of Commerce from Ahmedabad University was highly theoretical. Whilst the degree specialised in banking, finance and insurance Dhairyaraj felt that the degree lacked the practical experience that was necessary to gain a competitive edge over his peers and advance his career in the hospitality industry. Therefore, he chose to study a masters because it is more ‘goal oriented’.
“I had put a lot of time and effort into researching where I wanted to study my Masters, but I was attracted to study my master’s degree in Australia over the UK or Canada because of its temperate climate. I then came across a website called the Master’s Portal where I first saw the Castle. I instantly clicked on the link when I saw the castle, then I saw the words ‘beach campus’.
It had never struck me that I could get my Masters in such a beautiful location. When I browsed through the ICMS website I quickly realised that this was the ideal place for me to study. The website highlighted student stories, it showed the real people and real lives that were impacted by studying at ICMS. I realised that ICMS would not just advance my career but also build my network of friends, peers, colleagues, and classmates too”.
Dhairyaraj chose ICMS for its personalised learning and the opportunities it presented him now and in the future.
“What impressed me about ICMS was its class sizes, that were conducive to very attentive and personalised learning. I was put off by other universities and their classes of more than fifty people, I just do not see how a lecturer can pay any attention to you in a class that big. Whilst I did submit applications to a few different tertiary institutions in Australia, when ICMS accepted my application, I called my agent and told them to withdraw any other applications I had lodged.
Thereafter, I was put in contact with Manish Desai, India’s country representative for ICMS. I now consider Manish one of my closest friends and supporters especially with my journey to get to ICMS. He supported me so much during those tough times in lockdown”.
“I have been so blown away by the lecturers at ICMS, I don’t think I have ever waited for a reply for more than 24 hours from them. They really care about me and my success, and my wellbeing. In fact, one of my lecturers remembered me from the first trimester I ever studied at ICMS one year prior to my arrival in Sydney. He made me feel so important.
Mondays and Tuesdays are my happiest days because they are the days when I take the ferry from the city to the Manly campus. I can see the campus from the ferry. I truly had no idea how incredible the on-campus study experience would be. Although the lecturers put in so much effort during lockdown just to make our time studying online the best it could be, I really am enjoying walking into class every day, dressed in my professional attire, and engaging with my lecturers, and classmates.
I truly feel that ICMS is preparing me throughout my degree to develop as a professional. From the way we are expected to dress to the Work Integrated Learning training we go through and the relevant materials we learn in our course. In fact, in one of my classes ‘Visitor’s behaviour and mindset, I have learned about tourist’s motives to travel which benefits me as a future business owner in the tourism industry because I will learn how to investigate what makes tourists ‘tick’.”
On the days he is not studying, Dhairyaraj works as a front desk associate at the Crown Sydney, a five-star luxury hotel based in Barangaroo. “I applied to Crown Sydney within the first few weeks of my arrival. I chose to work at Crown because of its reputation and realised that the team is the cause of its immaculate reputation.
The application process took about 45 days (about 1 and a half months), which involved police checks, Australian National police check, and background references check. Since then, I have felt so welcomed by Crown, every team was so welcoming to me.” Jhala shared. I can study and work at the same time because I set my availability with my manager depending on when my classes are, and they are very understanding of this.
I have also been in touch with many alumni about their experiences finding work during and once they have completed their studies. I am pleased to share that from their experience they have either been hired by the company they interned at or, because of their experience of working at this prestigious ICMS industry partner that their experience made for an impressive CV when seeking a job elsewhere.
Our Stories, Master of Management (Tourism & Hospitality)