Nima Sherpa and Radha Lima spent more than a year planning their move to Canberra so Mr Sherpa could study for his masters.
The couple arrived from Bhutan in December, their seven-year-old daughter entrusted with her grandparents.
"I was just searching for jobs. I applied for many, but after two months I got a job as a room attendant. Then I worked there for only two weeks, because of COVID-19 ... the hotel was shutdown and again I was jobless," Ms Lima said.
Mr Sherpa found work with a commercial cleaning company, but that too was cut short.
With high international student fees looming, along with rent and bills, it was an uncertain and difficult time for the couple.
But they found work with Transport Canberra and City Services as cleaners, part of the ACT government's $28 million Jobs for Canberrans program.
The program is designed to employ people who had lost work in the coronavirus pandemic but were ineligible for federal government wage assistance.
"Finally the ACT government came to our rescue, and we're very grateful and we're very thankful, especially to TCCS," Mr Sherpa said.
"It's been a pleasure working with Transport Canberra and City Services. It's been a great honour for us, especially when we're stuck with certain hardship or times of it being so hard finding jobs."
Tasked with cleaning suburban depots, Mr Sherpa and Ms Lima start early each morning to sanitise touch points across multiple sites.
Although they missed their daughter - plans to bring her across to Canberra have stalled due to coronavirus - they said they were adapting to their new city.
Mr Sherpa has also successfully completed his first semester at the University of Canberra.
"We're getting adapted to the environment and we're starting to love Canberra. It's a beautiful city. ... At times you can see all the seasons in a day, but nevertheless we're enjoying it," Mr Sherpa said.
Under the jobs program, Access Canberra has taken on 17 extra staff, including student Harry Cope.
Mr Cope was working casually at a roof-top bar when the COVID-19 restrictions started, supporting himself while he studied politics at the Australian National University.
"I had worked there a bit over four months, so I fell through the cracks of JobKeeper and I wasn't able to support myself. So I had to move back to Sydney," Mr Cope said.
After moving home and continuing to study online, Mr Cope was eager to find a way back to Canberra. He trawled job ads online before applying to Access Canberra.
Now, Mr Cope has found himself on the front line of providing information about COVID-19 to the public, taking calls on the ACT government's coronavirus information line.
He said it was rewarding to be helping people through a very stressful period. He was also glad to be back in the capital in a new sharehouse.
Mr Cope said he had got his share of tricky questions - including from choir masters and martial arts studios wanting to know how to comply with restrictions.
"You really get a range of all the different individuals. Some people are very kind and very patient, other people are a bit more distressed.
"It's just learning to deal with those and handle those people respectfully so after the call they leave feeling a bit better," he said.