On Saturday 29th November 2014, approximately 500 international students and graduates from across the Midlands in the UK attended the ‘Develop Your Global Career’ Conference in the stunning Great Hall at the University of Birmingham. Organised collaboratively between 16 Midland based universities, the conference provided international students and graduates with the opportunity to meet and network with global employers, learn more about UK visa opportunities and develop their overall global employability attitudes.
Around 20 employers and organizations such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Access Tier 5 (AIESEC), the British Council, BUNAC, Chopsticks Club, Progressio and FDM attended the conference. The event was sponsored by CPA Australia with Hayley Angell (Relationship Manager – Education) providing a great overview on the company and speaking about the traits of what makes a global graduate. CPA’s stand also included a photo booth, which enabled students to receive a free professional photo to include on their LinkedIn pages or professional portfolios – definitely an added bonus. They also ran a competition whereby the winning applicant will meet and have lunch with a business leader within the company, which was an amazing opportunity for one lucky student/graduate!
The conference kicked off with a panel of representatives from organizations such as UKTI, Freeths, Decathlon and CPA Australia giving talks to students about developing a global mind set and considering a desired global graduate’s personality traits from an employer’s perspective. The panel also included a couple of students who shared their experiences and what they had personally gained from the previous work experience that they had undertaken in an international environment. After the panel talks, students were then given the valuable opportunity to network with company officials and professionals and develop their network of contacts. Employers set up stands in an exhibition area and were available for student’s enquiries as well as providing information and promoting themselves to the event’s guests.
The conference also offered two different types of workshops to international attendees. Workshop One was extremely valuable and included information on how students and graduates could apply for Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas in the UK and what options were available. The workshop focused on the eligibility and requirements on applying to a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa. The process of how to apply for visas was explained thoroughly and instilled different cases studies.
Workshop Two introduced and guided students in to becoming a ‘global graduate and obtaining a global mindset’. This workshop was more interactive and influenced student’s thinking of how they could develop into a global graduate. Speakers encouraged students to ponder the prerequisite in to working internationally. Students were reminded that subjects like cultural agility and differences are inevitable in a mixed-cultural working environment. It provided a framework to students of “How will working internationally be like” and “What employers want from us”.
The ‘Develop Your Global Career Conference’ really helped students who are starting with nothing. It was not a job hunting fair where job offers were directly offered, however, it gave students the opportunity to develop valuable global networks and gain better insights from employers in to what a ‘global graduate’ is, all from a variety of different international backgrounds. The University event organizers worked hard to provide detailed information of being able to work in the United Kingdom or internationally. International students can then start to better prepare themselves for the future challenges that they will face after graduating and what potential career opportunities may be available. It is not about getting short-term and immediate benefits but long-term and visionary attributes in establishing yourself to the coming chances.
I would definitely encourage international students and graduates who are planning to work in the UK (or abroad) to participate in these types of events. It is fun, it is useful and it was also FREE.