Get a UK Job: A Timeline for International Students

Getting to know a new labour market and how to navigate it can be difficult! That’s why we’ve put together this handy timeline for international students looking to find a job in the UK.

Start Early

For international students pursuing a one-year degree in the UK, finding a job and finishing your degree at the same time can be an extremely demanding task. While the Graduate Route post-study visa allows for a two-year stay in the UK (three years for those who completed a PhD) to work or look for employment opportunities, many students may wish to extend your stay in the UK beyond this period, but may not know how to do so.

If that’s the case, you may want to explore graduate schemes, typically offered by large employers in industries such as finance, consulting, and engineering. These schemes are usually structured to provide recent graduates with training and development opportunities, and many employers within these industries are willing to sponsor visas beyond the post-study work period. One of the advantage of these graduate schemes is that they often welcome applicants from all academic backgrounds, so you can apply even if your degree isn’t directly relevant to the field.

Keep in mind that applications typically open a year in advance, and competition for these schemes can be fierce, so it’s important to begin preparing early to ensure your application stands out.

Graduate Scheme Timeline

As recruitment cycles, application processes and requirements in the UK may differ from those in your home country, we have prepared the following timeline that outlines the key stages of the application process for graduate schemes and other employment opportunities in the UK, to help you play your time as a student effectively:


  • Understand what you want to do and what you can do with your degree.
  • Narrow down which roles and employers you are interested in, through self-reflection and research.
  • Audit your experience and summarise the key skills you have acquired over the past 3-5 years, in order to help you understand where your strengths lie, and what job roles might suit you.
  • Find out what skills, knowledge and experience your potential employers are looking for by looking at job profiles and previous job descriptions.
  • If you are unsure about your career direction, or have any other career-related questions, speak to us on livechat, or visit us at 5 Tyndall Avenue.



  • Check which graduate scheme applications are open – many start around this time. Platforms like Student Circus and Bright Network can be useful resources for finding job openings. (Please note that apart from jobs advertised on Student Circus, not all job postings on other platforms may be open to sponsoring you. It’s important to contact the HR department to confirm their hiring policies).
  • Start creating a list of all the applications you have submitted, and are planning to submit.

October –  January

  • Attend career fairs and events hosted by the Careers Service, and talk to employers to gain insight into what they are looking for in job candidates.
  • Prepare for interviews and assessment centres by checking our online resources, attending events and, when you have an interview confirmed,  booking a mock interview practice with us via livechat.


  • While most graduate scheme deadlines have passed by now, you may still find some opportunities with later deadlines or rolling recruitment. Check out resources like Student Circus and Bright Network to see if there are any current openings that fit your interests and qualifications.

Mid-December – May

  • Assessment centres and interviews usually take place between this period.

April – June

  • Check to see if any early-closing graduate schemes have reopened due to unfilled positions. However, keep in mind that you typically cannot apply more than once for the same scheme within the same year. If you’re interested in reapplying, reach out to the HR department and inquire about their policy.
  • Don’t limit yourself to graduate schemes. Graduate jobs can be sponsored, and are open to you through the Graduate Route visa, and are available all year round. Apply by using sector specific job boards and LinkedIn. If you’re specifically looking for sponsorship, it is best to check with HR before applying to ensure that they are willing to sponsor you. If they are not willing to sponsor you straight away, it is still worth applying and indicating in your application that you are eligible to work under the Graduate Route visa.


  • This is a quiet month, but it is a perfect time to focus on your graduation projects and dissertation.
  • You should still be able to find graduate jobs to apply to.

August – September

Additional Advice

Before applying for graduate schemes, it is highly recommended to gain relevant experience by participating in internships or volunteering opportunities. This experience will not only enhance your application and make it stand out to potential employers, but it will also prepare you for the application process and interviews.

Don’t forget to tap into the hidden job market. Many jobs are not advertised publicly, so networking and building connections within your desired industry can be valuable in uncovering these opportunities. Check out our resource on speculative applications.

Here at the Careers Service we offer a range of resources to help you navigate the UK job market as an international student. Our online resource, Support for International Students Pathway, is a great starting point to help you make the best applications to the right employers in the UK.

If you would like to know more about your visa options, check out our intro talk on your visa options, and contact the Student Visas team.

Inline illustration by Mohamed Hassan on Pixabay