International students – Life after Leeds
Gaining employment after graduation can be difficult but particularly so for international graduates who need immigration permission. To be in the best possible position, you should start planning early. In this post Careers Adviser Laura Blackledge provides advice for international students who wish to remain in the UK once their studies have ended
Research – You need to research the types of organisations you would like to work for and ensure that you are gaining the relevant experience and skills to meet their requirements. Employers are looking for people who have the right combination of skills, qualities, knowledge and experience. They employ proactive graduates who have made the most of their time at university by working, volunteering and taking part in student activities. It is also vital that you can explain what makes you employable to a potential employer in your written applications and verbally in interviews.
Apply smart – As sponsorship can be a barrier for some international students, consider applying to employers who are already registered as licensed sponsors by the Border Agency. Look for work with large multinational companies with offices all over the world. Many of these organisations offer graduate schemes. Have you considered applying to a UK company that trades with companies in your home country? It can be difficult to find lists of companies trading overseas, but you may find the UK Trade and Investment Services useful. On their website, select the industrial sector that you’re interested in to view case studies of some companies which trade internationally. Their newsroom provides up to date announcements about companies engaged in international business development.
Work experience – All experience of work will help you demonstrate that you have skills and qualities that employers commonly seek, such as communication and team work skills. The best work experience you can obtain is work experience in the industry you want to enter because you will also develop relevant knowledge and gain experience of undertaking specific tasks typical in your chosen field. Many larger employers recruit graduates who undertook a placement with them. This means that gaining work experience with relevant employers is vital. Our section on finding work experience provides more information. The Leeds Internships are open to International Students.
Promote – What can you offer as an International Student? You need to think about what advantages you could bring to an organisation. These may include your language skills and understanding of different cultures, being able to adapt to unfamiliar situations and being able to solve multiple problems eg visas, accommodation. Do you have work experience from your home country? If so make employers aware of this when networking and applying for roles.
Plan B – Sometimes despite research and experience, international students are unable to secure employment before their Visa expires. It is really important to have an alternative in place in case you do have to return to your home country. What contacts do you have? Have you used LinkedIn to market yourself to potential employers? Have you seen the information available for starting a career in your home country? Which organisations would you like to work for? Have you used the Leeds Network to see if any alumni could support you? Which organisations require your skills and expertise? If returning home is likely you should be starting your job search at least 3-4 months before leaving the UK.
Careers Centre – For advice on developing your CV you should look at the CV advice on the Careers Centre Website. Our website also includes a section specifically for international students. Careers Advisers can give you one to one advice including help tailoring your CV to a job description, where and how to look for a job and interview techniques.
If you are a current student or have recently graduated you are also welcome to contact the International Student Office. The Careers Centre is not licensed to advise you on the type of visa you could apply for or the application process. However the ISO is available to provide advice and support with immigration and run a drop in session at 10:30 every week day morning.
The UKCISA information sheet Working in the UK after your studies has detailed information about the various options open to you and is kept up to date. Application forms and official Home Office guidelines are available on the UK Visas & Immigration website.