Why should international students get work experience in the UK?
For many international students, getting UK work experience is important. It is likely to be valued by employers when you return home, and to give you a chance to develop skills to help you get the job you want. Working in the UK should help improve your English, understand how UK businesses work, and build personal networks that can be very valuable to your future career.
A small percentage of highly talented international students will be successful in getting sponsored to work in the UK after their course ends. These include students who you have already worked for the employer during their course – and shown that they are important enough for the employer to sponsor them. In other words, you can increase your chance of getting sponsored to work in the UK if you are able to get work experience with the employer before your course ends.
When can international students get work experience in UK?
Here is a summary of the different points at which you can work in the UK. It is essential for you to check your own rights to work in the UK, as shown in your passport and by talking to an international student adviser in your own university. In general, international students can work for up to 20 hours a week during term-time in a combination of paid or unpaid roles, and for unlimited hours during their vacations (postgraduate students may have some exemptions to this). For information on international student rights in the UK see https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Information–Advice/Working/Can-you-work
Working during your course
This might mean:
- Doing a part-time job while studying. Your main reason for doing this may be to earn some extra money, but also to find opportunities to use and develop your skills as an international student. Look out for translation and marketing roles in your university, or local organisations promoting services to international students.
- Completing a placement or internship as part of your course. For undergraduate students this might mean a 12 month industrial placement in Year 3 of a sandwich degree. For Masters students it might mean completing a placement or internship in Term 3, as part of your course. Your careers adviser should be able to help you find and apply for these opportunities, by introducing you to important vacancy sources and potential contacts. If your placement has been signed off by your university as part of your course, there should be no limit on the hours you can work under this route. It is essential to check with your university international student adviser to avoid any risk of breaking the terms of your student visa.
- Doing voluntary work while studying. This might mean volunteering for a local charity or doing a short voluntary placement in a business, including start-up companies. Some universities will not advertise unpaid roles, and all students should negotiate payment for work after volunteering in a role for 140 hours. International students should also be aware that the combination of all types of work (including voluntary and part-time work) should not exceed the 20 hour rule unless it is placement carried out as part of your course.
After your course
International students may be able work on their student visa for a fixed period of time after their course ends, and until their visa expires. For postgraduate and undergraduate students whose course is 12 months or longer this period can be for up to four months after the official course end date. This experience must be in a temporary full or part-time role, and cannot involve setting up your own business. Now that you have completed the assessment for your course, this can be a good time to focus on getting UK work experience. It might mean completing an internship, doing voluntary work or a part-time job. If you find an internship or placement extending beyond the end of your student visa, your university may be prepared to apply to extend your student visa, provided the placement is part of your course. This route is open to some Masters students on 12 month visas finding 6 month internships in the UK. It is essential to talk to the international student adviser at your university about whether this option is available at your university.
Getting sponsored to work in the UK after your course
This is the preferred option for most international students and, as mentioned above, is possible for a minority of highly talented students. For information on being sponsored to work in the UK please see separate information at: https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Information–Advice/Working/Working-after-studies
What to do next and where to find more information
· Start by exploring the different ways you can get work experience in the UK as outlined above. Which would fit in best with your plans? What are the advantages and disadvantages for you personally? What can you offer UK employers as an international student?
· Check your university jobs portal for vacancies in part-time work, placements, internships and volunteering. Set up e-alerts so that you don’t miss out on new roles being advertised.
· Looks out for on-campus employer events including placement/internship, part-time job and voluntary work fairs, some targeted at international students.
· Visit your university jobshop to find out about part-time jobs and volunteering, and your careers service for help to explore your options and develop your job application skills (including how to create a CV for the UK market)
· If you have any doubts about your rights to work in the UK, contact the international student adviser at your university. You cannot risk breaking the terms of your student visa.
· Use key graduate websites for advice on getting work experience and vacancies, including: · https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/work-experience-and-internships · https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/work-experience-and-internships/how-to-ask-employers-for-work-experience · https://targetjobs.co.uk/internships
This information is correct as of June 2019. Students should always seek up to date advice on their personal situation from a qualified immigration adviser at their university or a solicitor.
Iwan Griffiths – Aston University – June 2019
Also see the separate Midlands International Group blogs
· The Experts’ Advice – Finding a Job in the UK (31 July 2018)
· How to Use Internationalisation to Stand Out to UK Employers (31 July 2018) both at https://midlandsinternationalgroup.org.uk/blog/