Should I stay or should I go?

You may not manage to perfectly line up a job for when your course finishes. So, what are your options?

Claire Guy is an Employability and Careers Consultant at the University of Exeter. She runs careers workshops for international students and co-ordinates India Career Ready.

Many international students come to the UK with plans to stay and work after studying. However, you may have already discovered that the UK job market:

  • Is competitive (i.e. well paid jobs in well-known companies receive hundreds or thousands of applications)
  • The application process takes a lot of time and effort
  • Many graduate schemes opened and closed in the autumn term- earlier than you expected!
  • It can take months to get a job.

UK students are often surprised by these things too! The good news is that there is lots of help available from Career Zone to tackle these challenges. We can help you to find less competitive roles, create more successful applications, and recognise the other jobs available for graduates in the UK that are available all year round.

What we can’t do though, is speed up the time it takes from searching and applying to actually starting work. Often that process takes at least 3 months. Once we allow for rejections (and we ALL get rejected) we might be looking at even longer.

As an International Student you’ll have a lot of options to explore

This means it is possible that you may not manage to perfectly line up a job for when your course finishes. Even if you really want that to happen, the reality is that it may not.

So, what are your options?

Keep searching and applying until you are successful. Thankfully, the Graduate Visa is flexible. It allows international students to stay in the UK to look for work. Even if you don’t find a job, you can still stay in the UK. Under old rules this wasn’t an option. However, being an unemployed graduate brings challenges- where will you live while you job search? How will you afford it? How long could you keep searching and applying before you had to take a different approach? One way to increase your chances of getting job offers is to ask for help from Career Zone. There are many ways we can help, including giving feedback on your applications to make them more effective.

Stay in the UK and do a more casual job whilst you continue to look for a professional role. Another feature of the Graduate Visa is that there is no professional level or minimum wage required for a job. This means that you could find a casual job to earn some money while you continue applying for other jobs. Causal jobs are things like administration (office work) hospitality (tourism) catering (food) and retail (shops/sales). These tend to be readily available, quick to apply for, and often have rapid start dates. Come along to one of our short sessions on finding and applying for part time work which are bookable on Handshake.

Apply for one of Exeter’s unique Graduate Business Partnerships. Our GBP roles are full time, paid and with supportive employers in the South West. They are professional roles that tend to last for 3 or 6 months, or a full year. The internships are in a wide range of sectors, including working in Higher Education; Advertising; Arts and Culture; Engineering; and Legal Services. Types of internship vary, but usually cover a variety of roles, such as Marketing, IT, Web Development, PR, Technical, Environmental, Engineering, Market Research, Business Planning, Accounts and Sales. If you want more of an idea about what might be available, have a look at some student case studies.

Consider an off-cycle internship. “Off-cycle” means anything outside of the usual internship cycle i.e. during the summer (May-Sept). These internships are often found in finance and consulting roles and are full time and paid. Simply put “Off cycle internship UK 2022” into your search engine.

Are there opportunities at home that are worth looking into? It’s possible that you may find it “easier” to find work at home. You can write applications and interview in your native language, use your networks, get lots of support from family and friends and maybe stay somewhere rent free too!

It’s worth making some comparisons to help your decisions. How much you can you really earn in the UK?  Try looking at vacancies or job profiles of the careers your considering to get an idea of salaries. Then think about the cost of living in the UK. There’s a big difference in costs like rent and socialising between different UK regions. Find out more in this article on UK’s most affordable cities for new graduates Now do the same for opportunities back at home- how do they compare?

You can find other Exeter graduates working in your home country using the Alumni Tool on LinkedIn. Why not  ask their advice? If you do decide to go home, come along to our session for international students “What every international student needs to know about impressing employers in your home country after your studies” which you can book on Handshake

Look at global opportunities. As an international student you are brimming with cultural awareness, adaptability, language skills and a sense of adventure. Maybe you could take your job search to another country? We provide free access for students to GoinGlobal.  A country-specific career and employment database contains more than 30,000 pages of constantly-updated information, to help you understand how to apply globally.

Whatever you choose to do, the Career Zone is here to help you.