No one can argue how much the UK Education sector is enriched and enhanced by the contribution of international students. International students often feel frustrated when they come to seek work in the UK post-studies but there are still many opportunitiesto develop employability whilst studying.
Yes it will be harder because of visa regulations but it is not impossible. Some companies will be quite clear on whether they can recruit an international student but regulations can and will change so nothing can be taken for granted in this situation. Seek advice from within the University or from an excellent source such as the UK Council for International Student Affairs
Why not start to put the following ideas into practical use from now on to help develop your employability? It is never too late to get started on making yourself more employable but early starts yield the most results.
Have a career plan
Do you have a clear idea in terms of your career or is are you still trying to find out what you want to do? Consider what it is that you want to do, what sector you want to work in. If you don’t know then use a reflective tool like the Prospects career quiz and reflect on the results with a Careers Consultant.
Do your research on sector and companies:
This is important, many recruiters feel that applicants apply for jobs without knowing why they are. Don’t be someone who applies to everything and anything just to get a job. Demonstrating that you know what a company does, why you have selected a particular company and why you are motivated to work for them makes you more likely to stay and therefore be a good investment to the organisation. This is feedback not just from UK companies but worldwide recruiters. To be successful you must be ‘commercially aware’ . Demonstrate your motivation!
Get work experience and get relevant work experience:
All work experience is good but some will be seen as being more desirable to a recruiter. Do get part-time work as this will help you develop customer service skills and team working but also think about internships. If you can do a placement year then do! This is excellent experience that links to the area you want to work in. Also, consider volunteering and work shadowing.
Reflect on your skills
Often we take our skill set for granted. Few of us take the time to stop, pause and reflect on the skills we have, the skills we need to get or enhance. Don’t just think of skills as being what you do at work. You develop skills during assignments, volunteering or as part of our university societies. Understanding the skills we have and being able to explain them on an application form is vital. It is never enough to state we have a skill, give evidence of it and how you have used it. Use a skills audit and use it regularly and see how you are developing.
It is always better to do ten focused applications than a hundred unfocused
It sounds obvious but quality will always win over sheer quantity every time. Avoid wasting yours and the employer’s time and energy. Avoid non-tailored, generic CVs and covering letters. Instead create bespoke versions that give clear evidence to a recruiter. Attend Careers workshops for help.
Maintain your ‘home networks’ whilst you are in the UK and network.
Networking is important in both the UK and at home. Utilise the links that you have and develop new ones. Don’t be frightened by networking; it is a conversation with a careers focus. People will be open to helping you (where they can) if they can see you have a clear goal. Join LinkedIn to help you make contacts and become a contact for others. Make your profile effective and professional. If you want to connect with others personalise your email to explain the benefits of connecting to you and why you are contacting them.
Practise your English Language skills at all times and have a wide circle of friends from all backgrounds.
Practice your English skills both verbal and written. Use your time in the UK to develop your English skills. Many international alumni often say they wish they had made more friends from different cultures to them. They regretted speaking too much in their mother tongue. Practice by talking to people you meet.
Get involved in extracurricular activities
Recruiters value the worth of such activity. For Masters’ students they often feel they don’t have the time to get involved in clubs in their first term. Ultimately it is important to balance your workload. Undergraduates may get carried away by the social aspect and it can be a shock at the end of the year when you get your results! You may want to join societies when you have more times but make sure that you are active in them. or consider volunteering.
Don’t see your Careers Service as only being there for CV checks and events
Your careers team offers a variety of support and they are full of people who are highly knowledgeable of the UK graduate labour market. Use us! Additionally and importantly, we are impartial so it is your choice. Good luck and do not be frightened to ask for help. Enjoy your time in the UK.