Category Archives: International

An international student’s experience of securing a graduate job in the UK

Experiences of being an international student at university can vary greatly. Despite having been at school in the UK since the age of 13, I still felt the specific pressures of being an international student at university, especially in regards to careers.

My career aspirations became a high priority from the beginning. Due to my student visa only allowing me to stay in the UK for the duration of my degree, I felt that I needed to have a post-graduation plan as soon as possible. I spent much of my first year getting to know what advice was offered by attending a variety of workshops put on by the Careers Service, numerous employer presentations, participating in university societies and volunteering. When I decided to complete the Bristol PLUS Award in second year, I found I had no trouble doing so having kick-started my career planning early on.

Anna Andreeva

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Year abroad – a modern language student’s perspective

When studying a languages degree, it is obligatory to spend your third year abroad.  Despite the fact that many people thought this meant I had a year-long holiday whilst everyone back home was writing dissertations, it actually meant working 40+ hours a week, speaking more Spanish daily than ever before and learning more about the culture than I ever could from a textbook.

What did you do in Spain?


In August last year, I started a five-month placement at a Spanish language school in Barcelona. In a nutshell, my responsibilities included working as a receptionist, carrying out administrative tasks, answering phone and email enquiries and translating content to go onto the English version of the website. Having never worked a fulltime job before, the first few weeks were perhaps the most exhausting and a bit daunting. Nevertheless, once I had settled and got to know my colleagues, I started to really enjoy the work I was doing. After a month, I was put in charge of the schools Spanish evening course. This was the part that I perhaps enjoyed the most because, whilst it was a lot of work on top of what I was already doing, I really enjoyed having something for which I was solely responsible.

How did you find your placement?

The hardest part was probably finding the job itself. I started looking for an internship early on in my second year, seaolivia-barcelonarching Spanish job sites and lists of placements previous students had been on. Dont be disheartened if you send lots of emails and CVs and receive few replies as this tends to be the norm. One day, whilst thinking I was never going to find anything, I came across the language schools website and found that they offered work placements. Whilst the initial application process took a while, it was definitely worth it. So, keep looking and you definitely will find something!

What were the benefits of working abroad?

Working in another country was a great opportunity to meet and work with people from all over the world whom I might otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet. When working such long hours, sometimes even weekends, it was easy to feel that all I was doing was working. So one thing I would suggest to help adapt to living in a new country is throwing yourself into different activities outside of the workplace. This way you get to know more of the city and the culture.

Having now started to think about future job applications, I think the year abroad was a very valuable experience. Working abroad shows international experience, highlights language skills and shows you can adapt to different working environments.

The Careers Service can help you to research different countries using the GoinGlobal database, as well as providing resources to help with applications.

Want to work in the UK after your degree but can’t get a visa – have you tried Tier 5?

Applying for jobs in the UK after graduating is a popular choice, but only a few students are successful in getting a job offer from an employer that can sponsor them for a Tier 2 visa. This blog post talks about an opportunity you might have missed, called the Tier 5 visa.

As a non-EU international student, working in the UK can be very valuable in terms of your career prospects back home. In 2012/13 I studied a masters course at the University of Bristol and really enjoyed it. However when I arrived back home, I realised that getting a good degree isn’t enough to get a dream job. Employers are looking for transferrable skills and knowledge and also whether you have experience of putting those skills into practice. For this reason, work experience in the UK is highly valued.

So if working in the UK is so valuable and so many people want to do it, what’s stopping them? The most common answer is “I can’t get a visa”.

As you probably know, non-EU international students need a visa to work in the UK. If you have been offered a skilled job in the UK, you can apply for a Tier 2 visa. However, it’s hard to get an offer for a skilled job in the UK. The job market is very competitive, and includes plenty of hard-working UK and EU graduates who don’t need a visa. The job has to have a high salary and the employer also has to be willing and able to sponsor your visa application.

But this isn’t the end of the road for non-EU international students – there are other ways for you to work in the UK, and using a Tier 5 visa scheme could be right for you.

So what is a Tier 5 visa?

On February 10th I attended a talk held by the University of Bristol Careers Service Centre that included some good information on the subject, which I’ll share with you here.

There are a number of categories of Tier 5 visa, but the most relevant one for non-EU international students is the “Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange)” visa. There are many different Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) schemes available, which allow non-EU international students to apply for internships in the UK. Their aim is to share knowledge and allow the interns to experience the social and cultural life of the UK.

You can find the official UK government website showing details of the visa here:

The Tier 5 visa is different to the Tier 2 visa in several ways and there are a number of criteria, so I’ve tried to summarise the most important ones below.

  • Under a Tier 5 visa, you will require an overarching body, such as AIESEC or the British Council to sponsor your visa. The employer doesn’t sponsor you directly.
  • The maximum term of placement for the internship is usually 12 months at a time, but some do stretch to 24 months.
  • The person doing the internship must have completed their last studies no more than 3 years ago.
  • The internship should be full time (35 – 48 hours per week) and the conditions of employment should be in line with the National Minimum Wage Act if outside of London or £15,000 per year if based in London.

Are you interested? Well, there are a number of organisations that provide Tier 5 GAE schemes, and you can find a full list by pasting the following link into your browser window. 

Overall, the Tier 5 scheme can be a useful option for non-EU international students who are keen to work in the UK for a while before going back home.

If you’re interested in hearing this talk for yourself it will be taking place again at 5pm on 9th June 2015 at the Careers Service. However please don’t forget that all immigration enquiries should go to the International Advice and Support Team at the International Office.

So the above is what I have learnt from the event. Some other attendees commented, “Very informative, clear and concise” and “Very good, should have a few more of these to reach more international students.” I hope it’s useful for you too.

–Xiujuan Wang