Graduate stories: The Graduate Route visa has allowed me to do a meaningful job

Utsa attended the University of Bristol as an international student from India, majoring in BSc Social Policy and Sociology.

A picture of Utsa smiling with a city scape behind her

After graduating last year, Utsa used the Graduate Route to secure a job within the university and is now working as an International Scholarship Assistant.

She is one of over 80,000 international students granted a Graduate Route visa since it launched in the summer of 2021.

Utsa spoke to us about her ambitions for working in a role that allows her to make a positive impact on the people and communities around her.

Was the Graduate Route always your plan? 

Working in the UK post-study has always been a part of the plan for Utsa, but as she says, “I perhaps never imagined the first graduate job would be as a scholarships assistant in the University”.  

Many students have multifaceted ambitions, and Utsa was no different. “I was passionate about working in something related to media and making a positive social impact. In my final year, I applied for a job at one of the most competitive consulting firms, as well as an analyst role in the NHS.” Utsa finally decided to work in the International Scholarship role, and she says this role “has allowed me to make an impact on the lives of international students who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to study at Bristol – a truly life-changing experience.”   

The importance of work experience  

In normal circumstances, internships can give students a big advantage when it comes to securing a job. Unfortunately, as one of the students from the ‘Covid generation’, there were few internships in Utsa’s first summer holiday period.

“In 2021, when normal life started to return somewhat, I began to make the most of the opportunities the University provided. I became a Global Opportunities Ambassador in my second and third year, before taking up the media and marketing internship – part of the Careers Service’s SME Internship Scheme”.

Prepare for every interview you are invited to 

Utsa has a clear goal when she tries to consider what jobs to go for and prepared extremely hard for interviews. “With a personalised CV and cover letter, I achieved a high rate of interview offers following my job applications. I then prepared at least 20 potential interview questions and practised them over and over to ensure that I performed at my best”.  

Think where you need to get help  

Utsa shared she has benefited from speaking to other people and sourced her own careers mentor by chatting with people she met during her internship and work experience. “While I was working as an International Student Ambassador for the Global Lounge, I was sent an email about applying to become part of a reading panel for the Think Big Scholarship. The insight I gained from being on the panel helped me when applying for the Scholarship Assistant role.”  

As an international student, the more you know about the UK – the people, the workplaces – the more prepared you will feel.

“It’s important to forge your own network. Compared to home students, as international students, we are often less familiar with UK industries and work culture. Friendships can offer shared happy memories – and can also bring you opportunities you may never have planned”.  

Any tips for international students graduating this year? 

Don’t underestimate the logistics and practical considerations when it comes to switching your student visa to another visa type. “You need to start to plan things early on, bear in mind there are many administrative things you need to consider. Where are you going to stay after your student accommodation contract ends? How will you get support from your social network if most of your friends are moving away? What is the lead time to get the visa sorted?” Be sure to plan ahead and leave plenty of time for the unexpected.

If you want to find out more about the Graduate route visa, or any aspect of your career planning and preparation, you can speak to your Careers Service by visiting us at 5 Tyndall Avenue, or by logging onto our Live Chat service.