In February, the Careers Service invited five international alumni to share their valuable insights and experiences with searching and applying for graduate roles in Asia.
Here are five top tips from our speakers:
Utilise your Bristol experience as your unique selling point
Yun Wen Soh, Singapore — Honours Law LLB (2021) Incoming Trainee Solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills
When preparing for job applications and interviews, think about the different experiences you have at Bristol and use it as your unique selling point (USP).
Try to identify a range of competencies throughout your time at university that will make you stand out as a candidate. Remember, your extra-curricular experiences are just as important as your legal internship and work experiences!
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
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.
It was my great honour to undertake a two-month internship at Bristol Braille Technology (BBT) under the SME Internship Scheme. My position at BBT was Braille and Employment Researcher Intern. My main duty was to conduct research on how braille promotes employment and improves the lives of the visually impaired. My work was mostly done remotely.
Working for BBT, I learned workplace etiquette and gained lots of new skills, including working to a high standard. As a non-native English speaker, my English has improved tremendously during this internship. My colleagues and supervisors are all native English speakers, and, frankly, it was a little difficult for me to keep up with them when I first started my internship. I quickly got over this problem with a lot of English practice.
At the same time, the research skills I learned at university came in handy and my time management skills have also been enhanced. This valuable experience has laid a solid foundation for my future career.
All in all, as a visually impaired person, I have benefited a lot from this internship, it really boosts my CV and I have become more confident. At work, I didn’t feel any discrimination and I wasn’t treated differently from anyone else. I sincerely hope that more of my peers will benefit from this scheme in the future.(more…)
Are you an overseas student, looking for work in the UK, but short on time?
We know there are lots of competing demands on international students’ time. Often juggling both independent and group assignments, and this year, adjusting to doing this remotely online. In normal circumstances adapting to a new culture, city, and education system presents enough to be getting on with. On top of all this, is the task of finding graduate work. This can be time consuming as an international student. From getting to know the UK jobs market to understanding the graduate visas available. Not to mention choosing roles you have an interest in and feel you could contribute to.
International student job portal, Student Circus, advertises internships, placements and graduate jobs across a range of sectors and company sizes, from start-ups to large multinationals.
It is an exciting time for international students! If you are graduating from this summer, you will be able to apply for the new Graduate visa, to stay in the UK and work or look for work for two years, or three years if you have a PhD.
The main benefit of this route over the Skilled Worker visa is that you do not need an employer to sponsor you. Here are 3 steps you can take now to make the most of this opportunity.
Step One – Clarify your goals
Do you want to work in the UK for the longer term, say 5 years, perhaps more? Or do you prefer to get some shorter-term experience here, before returning to your home country, or working elsewhere in the world?
If you only want to work in the UK for a couple of years, you don’t need to worry about sponsorship anymore – you can simply apply for the Graduate visa!
If you want to stay in the UK long-term, look for a sponsored job through the skilled worker visa. Register for Student Circus – the UK graduate schemes and jobs on this website are all ones that employers have confirmed they will sponsor.
The Graduate visa gives you more time
If you haven’t secured a sponsored job before your student visa expires, you can apply to the Graduate visa, start working for an employer, and then apply to continue working for them on the Skilled Worker visa – as long as the necessary criteria are met.
You also have further chances to apply to sponsored graduate schemes, which tend to open every Autumn (see our international student timeline for getting a job in the UK).
Remember, some employers may not be fully familiar with the Graduate visa, or the Skilled Worker visa. For the Skilled Worker visa, employers need a licence to sponsor, and the job you are applying to needs to fulfil certain criteria to be one they are able to sponsor. It’s important to educate yourself so that you can explain these rules to employers if necessary.
As an international student you have a lot to offer UK employers. You have gained subject-specialist knowledge from your degree(s), and important skills from work experience (including volunteering) in your home country, and hopefully the UK. If you haven’t got UK work experience yet, it’s helpful if you can gain some. View our Intro: Finding work experience and internships in the UK and find out about our SME internship scheme.
Most importantly, you will have a global mindset, cultural knowledge and often language skills such as Mandarin or Arabic, that are in high demand. This can help you stand out. Watch our Intro: Communicating your value to Home and UK employers and reflect on the skills, knowledge and experience you have as an international student who has studied in the UK.
Step Three – Adopt a targeted job search strategy
Research employers who will value what you have to offer
Consider this story for example: an Indian student taking an MEng in Aerospace Engineering focuses on contacting aerospace employers who see India as an important strategic partner. She discovers that the UK India Business Council has published Advocating Business Success in 2020, which highlights the founding members of a new Aerospace and Defence Industry Group, launched to “support and build on the huge opportunities for collaboration that exist between the defence industries of the UK and India”. This gives her a target list of employers as well as important commercial context she can reference, to stand out in her applications and at interview.
To find UK employers who are likely to value your home country knowledge, start with finding the membership organisations relevant to you. Search the name of your home country, or wider region, and add “UK” and “business membership” or “Chamber of Commerce” to find their website(s). Then, familiarise yourself with their membership lists and sector reports.
Don’t just limit yourself to well-known, larger employers – in the UK, over 99% of employers are SMEs (small or medium sized enterprises employing fewer than 250 people). SMEs are often able to recruit more flexibly and may give you a greater range of experience and responsibility than a larger employer.
Find advertised jobs – or access the hidden job market
You may find your target employers are advertising roles through Student Circus or on their websites. If they aren’t, consider approaching them speculatively: this can lead to employers hiring you in what is known as “the hidden job market”. Send a cover letter and tailored CV demonstrating the value you believe you can bring, and follow up with a phone call to see if you can arrange an exploratory meeting.
The #WeAreInternational student ambassador programme is an education policy and leadership development scheme for international students in the UK. With my growing interest in education policy and love for personal development, I thought it would be the perfect fit for me, and I was right!
From the very beginning, UKCISA staff have been nothing but kind and supportive. Even the recruitment process was insightful and enjoyable. It entailed a group activity and presentation, then a one-to-one interview. I remember all the candidates being so passionate, confident, and knowledgeable. We were informed of the decision a couple of days later, and fortunately, I was successful.
The induction training session, being before the pandemic, was an in person two-day event. It covered an introduction to UKCISA, essential policy knowledge and skills, and an individual session going through our personal development plan, tailoring it to our policy area of interest.
Being a #WeAreInternational student ambassador has been one of the best experiences of my university journey. I have been able to have a say in the international student experience! This has included: (more…)