Work-integrated learning (wil) is regarded as an important vehicle to assist students development of relevant professional skills, knowledge and attributes that can enhance their employability. Wil arrangement for international students is a challenging issue for institutions, international students themselves as well as other related stakeholders. While there is an emerging body of literature that examines wil for international students, how the value of wil is perceived by this cohort is little known. This paper responds to this dearth of the literature by exploring the different meanings that international students in the vocational education and training sector attach to wil. Using bourdieus thinking tools of capitals and habitus to interpret interview data from 105 international students, this paper shows that wil is seen to not only add value to student learning, career aspiration and employability but also transform and enhance their symbolic and social capitals. The paper underscores the instrumental, symbolic and developmental meanings that international students associate with wil. In particular, it highlights the reciprocal relationship between students development of vocational being and personal being through wil. 2016 Society for educational studies.