Just because your time studying at University is coming to an end, doesn’t necessarily mean your time in the UK is over. A lot of international students decide to continue living in the UK and secure themselves a job after graduating. There are two main types of job opportunities for international students in the UK.
Graduate schemes are typically offered by large companies looking for new talent every year in a range of different areas. It is a popular option for international students working in the UK after graduation. A graduate scheme isn’t just an entry-level job, it also functions as a training programme which will give you the opportunity to work in different departments and work on multiple projects within the company. This is a great way to discover what areas you enjoy working in, and if you are offered a full-time position at the end of your graduate scheme, you may be able to influence which department you end up working in. Most graduate schemes last about two years. Companies normally start looking a year in advance with applications generally opening in September, so be ready to start your application early. Successful applicants ordinarily start their new roles during the summer period after graduation.
An alternative route that covers the rest of the graduate market would be a direct entry. These job positions will normally be from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and job opportunities can become available at any time of the year, ordinarily with an immediate start required. This means you will probably need to wait until you finish your degree before you start applying. It is also important to check with smaller employers if they can afford to sponsor you because international students are required to have a starting salary of at least £20,800.
Don’t wait for job opportunities to be advertised. If you find a company and a job role you are interested in approaching them yourself because job roles aren’t always openly advertised. If you can impress a company with initiative and a unique set of skills this approach can be very successful.
There are many opportunities and job prospects in the UK for international students but as your time at University draws to an end securing a job can be a daunting process. So here are my top tips to help you prepare for life after university, master the recruitment process and learn the skills you need to secure yourself a good job in the UK.
1. Get some work experience
A part-time job or work experience placement can be a great way to show employees how focused, hardworking and valuable you could be to the company. If you work hard and prove yourself a valuable worker it could potentially lead to a graduate placement (just make sure the placement you apply for is in an area related to the career you want to go into). Work experience is a great way for international students to improve their English Language, and it also makes you much more employable. Experience in invaluable because it helps you develop key skills you may not experience at University. Just make sure you check your eligibility to work whilst studying in the UK because you will have some restrictions if you are studying under a tier 4 visa. If you struggle to find work experience consider approaching companies in your chosen industry and offer to volunteer. Working for free doesn’t sound appealing, but it could really pay off in the long run.
2. Join a society
The job market can be a competitive place especially if you are looking for a certified employer to sponsor you. If you want to be successful in getting sponsored you will need to stand out from other applicants in whatever way you can. Make the most of any opportunities you come across at University and be proactive in getting involved with any extracurricular activities or societies. It will read well on your CV and help you stand out to employees.
3. Master your English
If you want to work in the UK your English Language will need to be of a high standard. Take whatever opportunities you can whilst studying at University that will help you improve your English. Join debate societies, take additional classes, get a part-time job. Do whatever it takes to get your English Language to a high standard. International students have great potential to stand out to employees because you will be able to speak more than one language which could be extremely beneficial to some companies.
4. Start job hunting early
If you are looking to apply for graduate schemes, start looking early. A lot of companies tend to open applications in August or September (a year in advance) with some deadlines as early as November. With direct entry jobs (as I have mentioned previously) you are normally required to start the job straight away, so job hunting for international students normally starts after university. However, you could start job hunting early and inquire about any part-time jobs, placements or volunteer opportunities available that you could take on whilst you study at University.
5. Perfect your CV and cover letter
The application process for a lot of UK jobs involves filling out an application form as well as sending a CV and cover letter. Whilst your CV and cover letter will need to be tailored to each job you apply for, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a start on them. Once you have finished perfecting your CV and cover letter it will make applying for jobs much easier. If you are applying for similar roles in the same sector, tailoring each application will be much simpler.