Careers information and tips for new students
Moving to a new country can involve a lot of changes to get used to. Below are several actions that can help you best prepare for your future career.
Get your CV ready before you start and get it checked by your careers service
This may seem counter-intuitive so early on in your studies, but getting your CV right early on not only will save you time later, it will also allow you to apply for a variety of opportunities throughout your studies, including insight days, work experience/shadowing and internships. In addition, working on your CV can help you identify your personal strengths and skills and importantly, learn how to articulate them clearly to employers – a key skill in the recruitment process that many people struggle with.
Familiarise yourself with the support available
Within your university there will be a group of trained professionals within Student Services who can help you settle in and stay at university. Although there may be some variation between universities, this typically includes:
- International Students’ Advisory Service
Support and advice for prospective and current international students on immigration issues, registration and other related legislation, as well as helping with any questions you may have about living in the UK.
- Counselling Services
Professional, confidential counselling for students experiencing emotional or psychological challenges.
- Disability & Learning Support
Specialist advice for students with physical and mental health disabilities, learning difficulties and other medical conditions.
- Welfare Support
Practical support for managing stressful experiences that students typical face.
Help you in deciding what career you want, making a plan to get there as well as supporting through every stage of the application process.
There are also other organisations that offer support international students. For example, the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) offer advice on visas, immigration and living & working in the UK. The British Council provides information to international students interested in studying in the UK that can tailored to your home country.
Engage with your careers service and understand what employers want
It’s easy to leave thinking about getting a job until nearer graduation, however engaging early with your careers service will allow you to maximise your time so you are better prepared for employment in a competitive job market.
Not only can your careers service help you decide on a career goal, they you can also work with you to create an action plan to achieve this. This includes researching what employers in your chosen sector want from applicants. Online resources such as Prospects, TargetJobs or resources on your university website can help with this, as can attending events with employers on campus. The Careers Service can also help you identify which of these skills, attributes and experience you already have and plan how to develop the others; for example identifying and applying for relevant internships, employment/voluntary work or student society roles.
Become familiar with sector information and vacancy websites, as well as application deadlines.
Websites such as Prospects and Targetjobs, are great for searching for internships, placements and graduate opportunities within the UK as well as having opportunities and information about working in different countries. Your university may also have a system for advertising opportunities both in the UK and in other countries. There are links in the ‘Useful Links and Resources’ section of Midlands International Group website to other resources, for career information and vacancies around the world.
There are also many websites that have information about the latest trends/information in your chosen sector, while others advertise vacancies for specific job sectors. For example, if you are interested in being a management consultant, reading Consultant News and Management Today will keep you updated on the industry, while Top Consultant advertises management consultant jobs in the UK, USA and Australia. Keeping updated with latest industry trends can help you be better prepared for your chosen career, and you may be asked about this in a job interview.
It is also important to know the recruitment timescales within you chosen career. For example, if you are interested in a career in finance, the deadlines for placements and graduate opportunities are quite early in the academic year.
Information about working in the UK
If you are looking to work in the UK at any point you will need a National Insurance Number. Speak to your International Students Advisory Service for help with this.
If you currently require a visa to study in the UK and wish to apply for jobs here after your studies, you will need a Tier 2 visa. Not all employers sponsor Tier 2 visas, so it’s important to check prior to applying for a company if they can sponsor you or not. A list of companies that can sponsor Tier 2 can be found at here.
Connections, connections, connections…
Most jobs are found through talking to people, otherwise known as networking. There are other really good articles on this website about how to do this well, but in summary:
- Don’t forget to keep in contact with people in your home country if you plan on returning there to work after your studies.
- Contact people who recruit for the job you want to do, including at career events at your university such as Careers Fairs.
- Connect with alumni on LinkedIn who work in your chosen sector.
- Your academic department staff may also be able to introduce you to people in your industry.
It can be intimidating to speak to new people and you may not feel you have the time. However, scheduling a small amount of time consistently each week can lead to see some great results.
Mix with students from other countries
Surprisingly, there has been feedback from employers that students who study in England return home with worse English skills because they have spent most of their time socialising with students from their home country and do not engage with students from other countries or fully-engage with UK culture. Not only is spending more time with students from other countries a great experience, it can greatly improve both your spoken-English skills and other ‘soft’ skills that employers value – such as interpersonal and listening skills, social confidence, relationship building as well as a more multi-cultural, global outlook. Changes in many jobs mean that people skills are becoming more important, and being able to build friendships with people from different cultures is a great way to demonstrate this skill to employers.