GETTING WORK EXPERIENCE

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/

WHAT CAN YOU OFFER TO EMPLOYERS BACK HOME?

You’ve studied and worked hard during your time in the UK and now, having graduated, it’s time to return home and begin your career journey.  What has your time in the UK given you that help you to stand out to potential employers? We asked for views from across the Midlands International Group.

Here’s what they had to say…….

Getting used to living somewhere where you may initially have known very few people and adjusting to the UK style of teaching and education may well have been difficult to get used to at first but in overcoming this challenge you have demonstrated resilience, an attribute that is invaluable in the work place, where you may often be faced with obstacles and difficulties.  Through completing your studies in another country you have proved how adaptable you are – to a very different environment and culture.  Adaptability is useful in any new job to enable you to settle in, adjust to the company culture and to thrive amidst organisational change and re-structures.

At Higher Education level in the UK you are expected to be able to work independently and to show initiative, actively looking for opportunities and taking control of your development.  The more you have done this, the more evidence you have to show an employer that you are ready for the workplace, where the confidence to work on your own when required, pro-activity and being resourceful will ensure you offer the maximum value as an employee.

Lindsay Southall | Careers Consultant, Birmingham City University

 

Returning international students can offer employers different perspectives on the use of key tools and systems that are used in the UK, especially where the student has industry experience to see real life application.  This may have been developed through key placements and internships, offered in partnership with key companies working with the university. Additionally they offer ways to demonstrate collaboration within course groups made of different nationalities, with diverse viewpoints and approaches to problem solving.

Chris Steventon, Careers Consultant, Coventry University

 

We say, you have it all! The experience of being an international student can really help you to stand out from the crowd and market yourself with a competitive edge. Not only do you have cultural capital (Insider Guides, 2018) with the awareness of a different culture, you can also communicate in a different language giving you the capacity to work in a global market. In addition to this you can demonstrate adaptability and resilience through your experiences of studying in a foreign country with the transition to a new culture highlighting your ability to adapt to new environments (Bellerbys College, 2017). Your international network through making friends and meeting employers will be another invaluable commodity when applying for that graduate job!

Tasneem Dakri, Career Development Coach, University of Northampton

 

Your time studying in the UK and experiencing a different culture will provide you with many of the skills and attributes that employers are looking for when you return home.

We know that employers will value your

  • Professional and theoretical knowledge
  • International outlook – including work experience
  • Creative thinking – the ability to think outside the box
  • Executive ability – thinking independently
  • “Survival” ability – the ability to work under pressure and adapt quickly

The most in demand soft skills from prospective employers include teamwork, communication, persuasion and influencing, interpersonal, problem solving, critical thinking and leadership. You will learn and develop all of these during your time in the UK. English proficiency can also be a key differentiator when applying for jobs in international firms and can directly influence your job hunting and salary benefits.

Ellen O’Brien, International Careers Consultant, University of Birmingham

Author

Mark Blaber, Employability & Enterprise Manager, university of Northampton

UK CVs for International Students

You may be thinking of doing a part-time job whilst you study or a full time job in your vacation period.  Or you could be interested in doing an internship over the summer or planning to apply for graduate employment.  If so then it is likely that you will need a Curriculum Vitae.  A Curriculum Vitae or CV can be seen as a tool that you use to market yourself to providers of opportunities you may be interested in.  You may be more familiar with the term résumé and it is likely a commonly used method of application in your home country.  CVs and résumés across the world share many similarities and hopefully by the end of this article you will be clearer on some of the features of a UK CV and where to look for further resources and support.

Tailoring your UK CV:  An important first step for an effective CV is to identify exactly what are the employer requirements (or opportunity provider); the skills, experience, qualifications and personal attributes that you will need.  The potential of your CV to help you to progress to the next round of recruitment, usually an interview, will depend very much on how well you demonstrate that you meet these requirements.  Adapting your CV to make sure that it markets you as an individual who meets these requirements is commonly called “tailoring” a CV in the UK.

Spelling and grammar:  you should aim for 100% accuracy in your CV.  An employer will judge your written communication ability when reading your CV.  An employer may make conclusions on your attention to detail and also your motivation for the role by the amount of mistakes they note.

Contact details:  an employer will need to be able to contact you, usually via email.  But they also may want a telephone contact number.  If you expect to be contacted whilst you are still in the UK you do not usually need to add an international dialling codeEmployers can use your address to judge how easy it will be for you to get to work (your mobility), if you include an address that is outside of the UK then it would be a good idea to indicate in your covering letter your willingness to re-locate or that in term time you are based in the UK.  

Creative CVs: Unless you are applying for a role within the creative industries or one where your creative ability is important you should normally avoid using graphs, colours and pictures etc.

CV templates: Templates can restrict your ability to tailor a CV and common ones found online can be poor.  If you would like to view example graduate level CVs then in the first instance consider contacting your University Careers service.

Do not include:

A photo: it is common in some countries to include a photo on a résumé (CV) however this is not usually the case for a UK CV.  Be judged on your ability not what you look like.

Date of birth/age, gender (male/female), marital status or nationality: the UK’s Equality Act 2010 law means that usually a UK based employer cannot discriminate against you based upon these protected characteristics.  If you require a VISA to work then you could disclose this in your covering letter.

Sources of further information and support:

Prospects and Target Jobs are websites specifically for undergraduates and graduates and include information on CVs, including examples. You can access prospects.ac.uk here and targetjobs.co.uk here.

Academic CVs (that you would use to apply for a role at a university) have a different format and content then the usual CV.  You can find out more about these differences, including examples by visiting jobs.ac.uk here.

Your university careers service website will have lots of useful resources including example CVs. A great way of improving your CV and answers to any specific questions you have is to get some one-to-one advice from an expert.  The best place to start is with your university careers service.  They can also provide you with advice on UK CVs not covered in this article, for example how to produce a UK CV that is tailored for a specific industry or job sector.

By Ben Simkins, Careers Consultant, Keele University

Launching Your Global Career- Webinar Series 2019

The Midlands International Group have worked together to put together an updated series of webinars for you to participate in.  This offer a great opportunity to learn how to adapt your skills and approach, in order to help secure positions, both within the UK, globally and back in your home country.

Visit this link to see the full range of workshops and to access the link to register your place.

MIG-webinar-brochure-2019

If you have any questions about taking part or concerns or problems about registering, please Email midlandsinternationalgroup@gmail.com

Top tips for establishing your own business within the UK and for securing Tier 1 sponsorship?

What are your top tips for helping international students to establish their own business within the UK and to secure Tier 1 sponsorship? 

Establishing your own business is an exciting challenge that many students entertain.  This generation of graduates are considered more entrepreneurial.  We asked a number of staff in different universities who support international students, what their top tips are for students in establishing their business and working towards securing a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa. 

Teresa Corcoran from University of Nottingham had the following advice: 

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the support available from the business start-up team within your University. At the University of Nottingham this is called the Ingenuity Lab and they have a range of initiatives you can get involved in, from competitions, to workshops, events, mentoring and  access to “how to” guides. If you are seeking a Tier 1 entrepreneurship visa there are many stages you need to go through to establish your business idea. Seek help early on to allow yourself time to prepare for this.

Kathryn Doerr  from Nottingham Trent University considers the key actions and traits: 

    1. Research, research, research!  You must know the market, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business plan. 
    2. Be passionate! Tier 1 sponsorship isn’t a back-up option.  It requires a lot of dedication , hard work, a comprehensive business plan and a unique idea!  You need to be prepared to work long hours and persevere through set-backs on your way to success.  Having an idea you are really passionate about is a must. 
    3. Network! Building your professional network and approaching stakeholders effectively is key to a successful business.  Your university careers service will have lots of ways to develop these skills, so make sure you engage with them. 

Mark Blaber (Employability & Enterprise Manager) at Northampton University considers the advice he gives to his staff on supporting students: 

  1. Ensure the applicant has given himself/herself enough time

When you’re meeting with an applicant to talk through a potential Tier 1 business idea, ensure the individual has time to go through your internal application process. It takes a while to create a full, credible business plan. Make it clear the student needs to give himself/herself 3 months at least to work on a business plan that will be strong enough for a Tier 1 application. 

  1. Ensure the idea has something different about it

Remember, with Tier 1 business ideas, you need to be more selective. For example, a lifestyle business such as a website designer, or selling pet accessories online won’t do. Ensure the applicant has an idea that is different to what is already out there. It doesn’t have to the first of its kind. However, it does need to advance upon products and services already available. 

  1. Encourage the applicant to create a Business Model Canvas (BMC) before a business plan.A Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a rapid type of business plan. If you feel the student has a potentially strong business idea, but you’re not 100% convinced, ask the individual to create a BMC first. Why? Because it will help to quickly establish what the major problem being solved by the business is, who the customers(s) are and whether the business will generate revenue and profit. The BMC tool will give the student focus as to what the most important questions to ask are about whether the business is going to be viable. 
  2. Provide feedback on the business plan before submission

If you feel the student has a good business idea, and you have requested a full business plan, after you receive it, take time to critically review it and give feedback. Doing so will help the student identify the main gaps and make changes accordingly. 

  1. Have a support programme in place after a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa has been awarded

Getting a business plan approved is just the first part. If a graduate has made a successful application for a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa through your institution, ensure you have a support package on offer for when the individual starts his/her business. Next comes the practicalities of starting a business, such as business registration, purchasing insurance, getting legal contracts in place, networking and sales and marketing. The graduate will need help with all these things. 

Sally Cleere from De Montfort University considers the activities that students can take up to improve their chances. 

Many international students are very entrepreneurial and are keen to establish a business in the UK, however if you’re on a Tier 4 visa this restricts you from engaging in business activities during your studies.  However there are lots of things you can do to develop your entrepreneurial and enterprise skills during your time at university: 

  1. Join a society such as Enactus (http://enactus.org/) which allows you to apply and develop your entrepreneurial skills on projects which use innovation and business principles to improve the world.
  2. Many Student Unions also have student-led societies focused on business or enterprise.  This is a great place to meet and network with like-minded students.
  3. Attend networking events organised by your university’s Enterprise Team to connect with local businesses, graduates and students – perhaps you have a creative idea, but you need someone with business skills to help you turn your idea into reality?  Collaborating with others can help you develop your ideas so that you can build a strong business plan if you decide to apply for a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa.
  4. Get some work experience – whether it’s a part time job, a summer internship or a sandwich placement, work experience will help you to understand how businesses work in the UK.  Understanding business etiquette and workplace professionalism will be really valuable if you plan to set up your own business in the future.

Chris Steventon (Careers Consultant at Coventry University) 

At Coventry University our Enterprise Hub supports international students in developing their business ideas.  They collaborate with our Careers Service, International Office and Centre for Global Engagement to maximise student’s chances of developing the UK based work experience. It is important to develop understanding of UK work cultures and collaborate with UK and other overseas students through ‘Online International Learning’ projects, course projects, cultural societies and leisure activities.  The top tips to support this vision are: 

  1. Engage and explore work experience, volunteering and project opportunities as soon as possible when joining the university. Time is short to gain the in-depth understanding of local and national workplaces, needed in creating realistic business ideas. 
  2. Use the Enterprise Hub activities, Student Union Societies and workshops run by the Careers Service, International Office and Centre for Global Engagement to understand  the development of career and business plans, Tier 1 visa regulations, and to network with other entrepreneurial people. 
  3. Join professional industry bodies, attend conferences and learn how the industries connected to your business idea work.  Labour Market Intelligence is critical, enabling networking at every opportunity, in order reshape, adapt and gain feedback on your ideas and understand the likelihood of them succeeding. 

This blog was put together by Chris Steventon on behalf of the Midlands International Group. 

What are the top three recommended activities, outside of study, for newly arrived international students to engage in?

Arriving in a new country can be daunting, with the challenge of settling into a new culture, developing new study skills and approaches, as well as finding new activities and challenges to keep you happy and make you feel you belong.  Across the Midlands International Group, we asked for the top responses to what the best activities are for newly arrive international students to engage in

 Kathryn Doerr (Nottingham Trent University)

  • Joining a university society can be a really good way of meeting people, making friends outside of your course and developing skills (including English language skills).  It also looks good on your CV.

  • It’s also important you look into the support offered by your institution for international students; for example at NTU we have international support advisers and a ‘Global Lounge’ which hosts cultural events and promotes internationalisation.
  • Finally, it’s good to gain some kind of work experience while you study – either through volunteering or a part-time job.  It can really help when it comes to looking for placements/graduate roles.  Speak to your university’s Careers Service if you aren’t sure how to go about this.

Sally Cleere (De Montfort University)

From my experience, international students who get the most out of studying in the UK are those that really get involved in university life outside of their studies and expand their social groups.  Most universities offer a wide range of activities to get involved in so you will have plenty to choose from to find something that you enjoy.

  • Volunteering – Most universities and Student Unions will have volunteer programmes and signing up to be a volunteer can be a great way to find out about your local community, improve your language skills and gain valuable experience to add to your CV all whilst making a difference.

  • Students’ Union Societies – joining a student society is a great way to have fun and meet a wide range of people to expand your social circle. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably a society dedicated to it!  It’s also an opportunity to develop your leadership skills by joining the organising committee.  At the start of term, head to the Freshers’ Fair to sign up.
  • Visit your Careers Service – Many international students want to get some UK work experience but understanding the UK application process can feel a bit daunting. Your careers service will be able to support you all the way through university – from getting started with how to write a UK CV and where to find part-time jobs, right through to your graduate job search.  They also run careers fairs where you can network with employers and workshops to develop your career management skills.

Christian Jameson-Warren (Loughborough University)

  • Get involved in an activity (e.g. voluntary work, fundraising) for a cause you are passionate about. Not only can it be rewarding, but doing something you care about will make it easier to speak to new people and improve your language and confidence skills easier. Plus it does look good on a CV.
  • Join a society. If there’s one directly to your job goal (e.g. politics, finance) it would add value as shows your passion and may provide opportunities to network and learn, but if not getting involved in something you’re interested in is still great. Feedback from recruiters is that students who do not get involved in activities outside of their studies don’t stand out, even if they have studied in a different countries. Joining a society is an easier way to both get into UK culture and get involved in activities you can put on your CV.
  • Any sort of work experience adds value, and getting involved in the activities above can help make it easier to achieve this.

Luciana Akemi Awasa (University College Birmingham)

  • Looking for work or voluntary experience will not only help you to develop relevant skills but it will also give you a great opportunity to talk to local people and develop your language skills. This will boost your confidence in speaking English and it will allow you to immerse yourself in a different culture.
  • Explore your options by talking to a Careers Advisor who can help you to reflect upon what you want and can do after your studies. The career services will also help you with your CV, cover letters and job applications in the UK. They might offer mock interviews which will make you feel more confident and prepared especially in the context of a different country and language.
  • By joining a Guild of Students’ society you can meet new people and share the experience of living and studying in a new country. It will also enable you to learn and understand new cultures. Do not miss the chance of taking part in events and activities that can help you to develop transferable skills (e.g., team-working, leadership, etc).

At Coventry University we would advise international students to quickly gain experience or get involved in projects where they can demonstrate how they are adapting to life, study and work cultures in the UK.   We have a UK Work Experience team set up to explore gaining paid experience and support local businesses in delivering collaborative projects.  Students can gain evidence and a reference for using their skills.

The Student Union is an important body at most universities.  Within Coventry Students Union we have a Sabbatical Officer for international students, exploring the support needed and helping students set up projects.  The Student Societies also help students explore other cultures through society activities and this is supported by the university Culturae Mundi project, where students run culture themed events.

Enterprise is another way in which these students can further develop valuable skills, which can then be later taken into UK or overseas businesses.  A number of our students go on to secure a visa to stay and develop their business within the UK.  Our Enterprise Hub supports students to develop their own ideas. They can also be active within the social enterprises set up through the university.

Chris Steventon (Careers Consultant- Coventry University) – Blog author.

Give your studies a global dimension

 Do you have what it takes to compete in a global market of today? Not sure what else you can do to develop your global competencies? Check our tips and advice on how to give your studies a global dimension and gain that edge over other graduates.

Now more than ever, it is vital that you make the most of your studies to develop the so called global mindset really sought after by employers in today’s challenging and highly globalised job market.

Whether you are an EU/Overseas student already studying internationally in the UK or a HOME student considering a career abroad after graduation, there are many ways you can increase your global competences and create an outstanding personal brand to impress future recruiters.

Give your academic work an international angle
Regardless what subject you are studying, there are simple ways on how you can make your studies more international.

Talk to your lecturers and tutors about the teaching and research they do. Many of them are engaged in international partnerships or writing on topics of global relevance. When choosing your modules, consider those with international and intercultural perspectives and try to cover these angles in your assignments and dissertation.

Where possible team up with students from other countries and cultures during class discussions or group projects. If your course is ‘with a Year in Industry’ consider an international placement or one with a company with global links.

If you are a postgraduate student, join any relevant international research networks or organise a conference that would bring students from other countries to share and discuss the research you are all involved in. Last but not least, follow global developments in your subject by reading international journals, magazines or expert blogs.

Go on a semester or a year abroad

Speak to your tutor and the International Office at your university about an opportunity of studying and/or working abroad for a semester or even a whole academic year.

Opportunities are endless and depending on your university’s international partnerships, they can range from Erasmus+ in Europe (both study and internships), working as a Teaching Assistant abroad with British Council, studying in the USA or Mexico or even doing an exchange at one of the satellite campuses of your university.

You don’t necessarily need another language to take part (as many courses abroad are also taught in English) and there is lots of support available to help your brush up on your language skills before and during your year abroad.

Studying or working abroad will equip you with amazing new skills, such as intercultural communication, planning and organising and resilience. It will also give you a fantastic opportunity to make new friends all over the world, as well as gain new perspectives on your studies and potential future career. Finally you’ll come back more mature and confident and with a clearer idea of what you like and don’t like doing after graduation!

Employers value the ability to adapt to new environments and practices, as well as people who can communicate effectively with others across different cultures and languages and your experiences abroad can provide evidence of the qualities they need.

On your return, make sure to come and speak to your careers service. The advisers there will be happy to help you articulate and present your international experience in future applications and interviews. They also organise regular workshops and events that bring along international companies to campus, so make sure to attend them, ask questions about international and intercultural opportunities and grow your networks.

Get involved with volunteering

If your course does not allow you to go on a year abroad, consider taking part in volunteering. Volunteering with local and international organisations gives you the chance to contribute to the community, improve your CV, develop new skills and have fun.

Volunteering can be a great way to gain global experience by taking part in diverse projects, from helping people to learn English to supporting local immigrants and refugees or participating in intercultural mentoring schemes.

Check out your careers service’s website to find out more about the voluntary organisations they are working with and how you can get involved. Or if you have a particular idea in mind, why not starting your own student-led project overseas?

Join a society and meet students from other countries

Through your university’s Students’ Union you can meet people from many nationalities, learn about other cultures, take on new challenges and get work experience by holding a position of responsibility in a society.

Participating in university life and the local community will enrich your time at the university and make you attractive to employers as it suggests that you can make a valuable contribution to the workplace too.

Student groups and societies welcome all students and are a great opportunity to widen your social circle, learn a new language and get familiar with different customs.

Learn another language

Ability to communicate effectively in more than one language will greatly enhance your career prospects in a global job market. It will help you develop your cultural self-awareness and give you insights into other countries and cultures. Employers value graduates who can interact confidently with diverse people personally and professionally.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters confirms:

“More and more employers are looking for graduates with a global mindset. This means an ability to work across different cultures and borders, an awareness of the global forces affecting organisations and the diversity of thinking to tackle challenges in a global environment. If you can also communicate effectively in more than one language, you will be well placed to make the most of international opportunities.”

Learning a new language can be sometimes  added as a new module or a pathway to your degree, or taken up university’s languages centre. Check your university’s website for more details or discuss options available to you with your personal tutor.

Inspired by any of the ideas above?

Take action – visit your careers service’s website, research your options and book a careers guidance appointment to discuss your next steps.

The post was written for the Midlands International Group by Gosia Mobbs (University of Leicester), 28 June 2017.

 

What is networking?

Networking for International Students

Image: CC0 – Public Domain.  No attribution required

You might have heard about networking and how important it can be in helping individuals achieve their professional and personal goals.  But what exactly is it? Networking is the idea that through the personal connections we make with individuals we encounter we can develop mutually beneficial relationships.

Remember networking is not just about what we can get from other people, just as important is how we can help them.

What are the potential benefits of networking?

Networking is all about making contacts.  Making contacts can improve your employability.  The “graduate jobs formula” below illustrates the impact that making contacts could have on improving your employability.

Employability = Qualifications + Work Experience + Skills x Contacts (Redmond, 2010)

Your contacts could help you with:

Insider info; want to impress an employer with your commercial awareness? Having an employee of a company you are targeting for job applications as a contact could provide real insights unavailable elsewhere.

Heads up on upcoming opportunities; often employees of a company will know about opportunities for work and work experience before they are advertised.

A good word in the right ear; making an application? Want to increase the chance of being shortlisted for interview?  Using contacts within the company to provide recommendations for you could make a difference.

Recommendations and endorsements (LinkedIn); LinkedIn allows you to collect recommendations that are much like references and also gives the opportunity for other people to endorse the skills you have listed in your profile.  Using your contacts in this way can help you to develop a more impressive online profile.

Practical help; there are numerous ways in which your contacts can support you with practical help.  For example, to arrange work experience or advice about a tricky application question.  Consider your network, what practical help could these individuals offer you?

References; want a great reference? You could ask a contact in your network.

Personal Introductions; sometimes it’s not the people you know, but the people that they know that can help you.  Your contacts can be helpful in supporting you to develop your network.  Maybe they can’t help you but they know someone who can?

Six Degrees of Separation– Frigyes Karinthy (1929)

The theory that because we are all linked by chains of acquaintances that we are all just six introductions away from anyone else on the planet!

“Proof! Just six degrees of separation between us

After checking 30 billion electronic messages, Microsoft researchers say the theory stands up” – The Observer, 2008.

Consider…what do you want to achieve by networking?

Networking, the basics

A good general rule for networking is to treat every encounter with someone as an opportunity to create a new contact.  Consider who you have in your network at the moment (everyone has one), your family, friends and acquaintances.  This is the starting point from which you can build.

Do not be passive, identify and seek out opportunities to grow your network; for example, your University Careers Fair and employer presentations (to network with graduate employers), social events (to network with your peers).  Check if your University offer networking training or opportunities to meet with Alumni or employers.

Think about the positive impression you want to make; effective impression management can be the key to creating new contacts.  The following are viewed as good practice in terms of meeting new people;

Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people

Principle 2: Smile!

Principle 3: Remember their name

Principle 4: Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

Principle 6: Make the other person feel important.  Do it sincerely.

(Carnegie, 2006)

Networking via social networks

LinkedIn is an online professional networking tool and available in over 200 countries worldwide, with over 450 million members.  This makes it the world’s largest professional network on the internet.  It is a great way to not only make new contacts but also to maintain and manage your existing network.

Check if your University offers LinkedIn workshops or training.

To sign up to LinkedIn visit: https://gb.linkedin.com/

For an introduction to LinkedIn and how it can used visit: http://tinyurl.com/m9whhq7

For a more detailed guide to LinkedIn visit: https://university.linkedin.com/linkedin-for-students

Top tip:  you will usually need an email address to connect with someone through LinkedIn.  Ask people you meet in person (that you would like to add to your network) if they would connect with you via LinkedIn and if so, ask for their email address!

References:

Carnegie, D. (2006). How to Win Friends and Influence People. London: Vermillion.

Redmond, P. (2010). The Graduate Jobs Formula. Surrey: Trotman Publishing.

Ben Simkins, Careers Adviser, Keele University

Why gain global competencies?

Why gain global competencies? Intercultural skills will benefit you whatever your career plans

Are you open to trying out different things – new experiences, different cultures or learning things in new ways? Do you look out for, and exploit new opportunities when other people don’t? If you answered ‘Yes’ to either of these questions you may already have the global competencies and mindset which are fast becoming a part of graduate employer ‘wishlists’. Having these is more than just about meeting business needs in a global economy. They will also equip for you many of the situations you face in your student and graduate life.

There’s no shortage of definitions of global mindset and competencies, and of intercultural skills, a closely-related idea. There’s also plenty of different ways graduate employers break them down when they recruit. For students and graduates what’s important is to have a broad understanding of what they mean, to be able to connect them to your own way of doing things, and be looking out for opportunities to develop them.

DB Arriva, the multinational public transport company, assesses graduates’ global mindset in three ways: if you can explain who and what motivates and inspires you; how you try out different things, without fear of uncertainty about what it means; and if you excel in relationship building and using support networks. You’ll notice that there’s nothing here about languages and international understanding, but for DB Arriva the term ‘global’ can mean international, regional or even relate to another business unit.

Other organisations view global mindset differently. For HSBC’s international banking operations it’s partly about being open to different ideas and cultures, communicating openly, and valuing different perspectives. While entry to brewers Heineken’s International Graduate Programme requires a genuine interest in other countries and cultures, language skills and at least 6 months spent working, or volunteering outside your home country.

What this shows us is that having a global mindset and competencies doesn’t have to mean you want to work for a multinational corporation or be globally mobile. Instead it includes skills and ways of thinking that overlap with many of the other things graduate employers will be looking for when they recruit. Whatever career you want to go into (or even if you have clear career ideas), you will need to work successfully in groups where the members are from mixed backgrounds, communicating clearly, and be open to new ideas and ways of doing things. This might be in your part-time or vacation jobs, in student societies, voluntary roles or course groupwork. From time to time most of us will find ourselves having to deal with situations where we don’t have all the information we need, having to take on new roles in unfamiliar situations where we have to work outside our ‘comfort zone’. This might look difficult to start with, but the end results can include a sense of achievement, some stories you can use in your job applications, and sometimes finding yourself asking the question ‘Did I really do that?’.

  • For more information on why a global mindset is important see:

http://www.gradplus.com/graduate-news/graduate-recruiters-say-a-global-mindset-can-give-you-the-edge.aspx

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/study-abroad/uk-industry-needs-global-graduates-but-what-does-that-mean-8613898.html

7 ways to improve your global mindset and become very employable indeed

  • To explore how you can develop your global mindset and other skills graduate employers are looking for please visit your university careers service

Iwan Griffiths (Aston University)

Developing a Global Mindset.

As the employment market becomes increasingly globalised and complex, more and more employers are looking for graduates with an awareness of these issues and an ability to work across countries and cultures. This is referred to in a variety of ways – some call it a global mindset, some talk of global competencies and some are organisations are now looking for global-minded graduates.

It’s important to realise that a global graduate isn’t simply someone who can speak a foreign language or has travelled abroad. Whilst being multilingual can be a huge advantage the term global mindset covers a much wider spectrum of skills and qualities including the ability to understand international perspectives, to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds and can grasp how international business interconnects and operates.

One definition of global mindset from the FT Lexicon is ‘one that combines an openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity and ability to see common patterns across countries and markets’.

Different employers often include different skills and attributes within the term global mindset or when talking about global competencies. BG Group talk about “the ability to think globally”, whereas Ernst and Young look for graduates with “the ability to work seamlessly across international boundaries”. Some companies ask for graduates who have spent some time abroad and schemes like Heineken’s International Graduate programme want candidates “To have a genuine interest in other countries and cultures”.

It’s possible to break some of the common skills and qualities into three main areas:

Social Skills – working collaboratively across cultures, adapting your communication skills to suit different audiences, being able to negotiate and influence international clients and respecting and understanding other people’s perspectives.

Psychological skills – demonstrating your drive and resilience, showing high levels of self-awareness and reflection, and having the ability to develop new behaviours and skills.

Professional skills and knowledge – having a good understanding of foreign economies and industries and the interconnectedness of the global economy, having good language skills, being able to learn in different cultures and environments and having the ability to form global networks.

A British Council report on intercultural skills conducted research and highlighted some of the following key skills:

By reflecting on these skills and qualities you can then start to see which areas you feel you already have strengths in and which areas you may want to focus on building on and developing during your studies.

There are a number of activities you can engage in during your time at university, to demonstrate your global mindset.  These can include campus based opportunities, such as language learning, attending international guest lectures or cultural events, as part of student union activities.  You may also have opportunities to explore global competencies through module choice options, such as those with an international dimension or international exchange.  Another major way to demonstrate your global mindset is to participate in overseas opportunities through activities such as study placements, summer schools, internships and volunteering projects.

Mundeep Panayi (De Montfort University)