Bristol international graduates share their Graduate route visa success

Since summer 2021, international graduates have been able to stay in the UK for two years (three if they have a PhD) to work or look for work, under the Graduate visa route.   

This is the first in a series of posts sharing the experiences and advice of Bristol alumni who have secured jobs using the Graduate visa. Hear from Ning, Fei Fei and Emelyn – two of whom work at the Careers Service!  

Ning Tay, Malaysia – Honours Law LLB

Careers Support Officer (International) at the University of Bristol 

 picture of Ning tay smiling in her graduation gown

My initial plans of heading to bar school changed significantly due to COVID. As such, I applied for the Graduate visa and got an internship with the University’s Student Inclusion Peer Support Team, whilst figuring out my career path. Due to the flexibility of the visa, I was able to transition to a fixed-term position in the Careers Service after 6 months of my internship, now supporting the employability of our international students, with a focus on those returning to China.

Higher education is a fantastic place to work, as not only are people familiar with the Graduate route, but I am able to exercise my home region knowledge, language (Mandarin) and intercultural skills in my role. My top tip for international students is to consider the higher education sector, as a great way of building UK work experience.  

Fei Fei Jin, China – MA Film and Television   

Video Photographer and Editor, various fixed-term and freelance roles

a picture of Fei waving

To get my first job on the Graduate route, I knew that it would be valuable for me to build up my network in the video area. I actively attended online networking events and met the founder of a digital marketing agency in Bath.  Later I got to know he was looking for a video editor, so I reached out to him, showing my knowledge and skills, then I got the job, which was a fixed-term contract.

Emelyn Tan, Malaysia – Honours Law (LLB) 

Bristol PLUS Award Officer at the University of Bristol

A picture of Emelyn Tan smiling in her graduation gown

During university I loved working as a Peer Mentor and Global Lounge Ambassador. I knew that I wanted to continue working with students and helping them make the most of their university experience! After graduating, I landed an internship with the Student Inclusion Team, supporting the experience of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and international students.  

During my internship, I transitioned from my student visa to the Graduate visa, which opened my eyes to the Higher Education sector as a viable career option! This encouraged me to take on a temporary role with the Bristol PLUS Award Team to broaden my skills and experiences.  

When the role became permanent, my contract was initially extended until the end of my Graduate visa. However, guidance about the Skilled Worker visa suggested that my role was eligible to be sponsored, so I spoke to my line manager about transitioning to a Skilled Worker visa. Many months later, it was official: my role with the Careers Service was going to be sponsored!  

My advice? If you’re looking to get sponsored, speak up about your long-term visa goals. Even if your current role isn’t sponsorable, having conversations about your goals could open doors in the future and lead to a sponsorable role.  

Access more advice on finding a job in the UK in the international student pathway on mycareer.