Jingyi (Zoe) Jia, Management Consultant and Big Data Analyst at EY

Jingyi (Zoe) Jia, Management Consultant and Big Data Analyst at EY, and Exeter Alumn.

Hello everyone, my name is Jingyi (Zoe) Jia. I graduated from the University of Exeter in MSc Business Analytics this January. Before that, in 2020, I graduated from University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Commerce. I have a lot of stories to share with you as an International student who studied in both Canada and the UK. 

Being an International student means my life full of challenges and joy. As a Beijinger born and raised I am glad to experience different study and work experiences in diversified cultures.

I still remember how excited I was when I got my first job in Canada. It took a long time to find the job. After I wrote my CV, I revised it many times so that it was a good fit for the role. Researching the job description and preparing for the interviews, including mock interviews, were significant parts as well.

“Big Data and Machine Learning will be a major trend in business as all industries are working on digital transformation.”

My first full-time job was a logistics analyst in a packaging company at Vancouver, Canada. During that time, I was in charge of logistics procedures for all the orders. I discovered the extended possibilities of Big Data by using coding tools to predict the cost of logistics. Big Data and Machine Learning will be a major trend in business as all industries are working on digital transformation. Although I did not learn any technology in my Undergraduate, I made a decision to study in Business Analytics at Masters level.  

In January 2021 I joined the University of Exeter to study MSc Business Analytics. At the end of the program, I received and accepted an offer of Management Consultant role in digital transformation at Ernst & Young in February 2022. This position is the first full-time job after graduating from the Master’s program, which is a career transformation for myself.  

“The main duty of my job is designing models for financial clients (such as banks) to fulfil their need of digital transformation in marketing or management.”

My role is highly enjoyable. The main duty of my job is designing models for financial clients (such as banks) to fulfil their need of digital transformation in marketing or management. For example, if the client aims to expand their female market or improve the revenue from the female market, we will design the strategies, road map first and then help them achieve the goal by building prediction models. Through using technical models built by SQL and p

Python, the client can predict the AUM growth, the most relevant triggers that boost the sales, or even the best channel to promote currently.

I learnt about EY through the employer career session held at the University of Exeter, and applied this position through the EY website. The Career Zone provided me a great chance to talk with the HR from EY at the Career Fair. I learnt that EY provides a better work environment for women, something which is really important to me.

For me, working as a business consultant in digital transformation is a new start to improve my professional skills in both coding and consulting. I am so glad I can bring what I learnt from Exeter and keep learning the Business Analytics in the real practice.

“…a good consultant always learns and grows faster with strong logical and critical thinking.”

 I would advise new graduates or current students who plan to start the career with consulting to gain more internship experience in project management or business analyst roles. Consulting is a good sector to start the career since a good consultant always learns and grows faster with strong logical and critical thinking. For students who are interested in business analyst or data analyst, I would suggest them to obtain the coding skills such as SQL, Python and R Studios.  

Last but not the least, a good analyst should clearly know what can be predicted or recommended to the clients through the result shown by data. Unlike programmer or developer, business sense is also one of important parts of the duties for business analyst and data analyst.  

“Career planning is a continuous thing. Every step at University such as choosing your major or applying an internship could affect your career in future.”

 In the short term, I plan to work and keep learning in the same sector – digital transformation consulting. Currently, I am preparing PMP certificate to help myself work better on project management in the workplace. Being a professional consultant for technology needs the ability to work well with technology, but also need the ability to manage and solve the problems well by using these tools.

Career planning is a continuous thing. Every step at University such as choosing your major or applying an internship could affect your career in future. Don’t be panic about what to do, but aim for what you are interested in and aim towards it. 

In the long term, I would see myself to chase the trend of emerging technology and management in different industries. Let’s see where I will be in ten years! 

5 mistakes international students make in cover letters

Claire Guy is Employability and Careers Consultant with the University of Exeter Business School.

Research shows that motivation and enthusiasm might be the most important thing to an employer.

Many international students have never seen a cover letter before. Lots of countries don’t use them, or if they do, they are not an important part of recruitment.

Why write a cover letter?

In the UK, jobs for graduates are competitive. There are many students competing for jobs. Cover letters are a way that you can “stand out”. Cover letters can impress an employer and show your enthusiasm and motivation for the job.

Motivation and enthusiasm are very important to UK employers. Research shows that motivation and enthusiasm might be the most important thing to an employer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From What Do Graduates Want 2022-2023 – Research by Bright Network

What should a cover letter contain?

A cover letter should explain 3 things: 1) why you want this job role 2) why you want to work for this company and 3) a brief explanation of your experience / skills in relation to the role. Remember that your CV explains all your qualifications, skills and experiences. To create a strong CV you must tailor the content to match the qualifications, skills and experiences that the employer has asked for in the job details. If you have tailored your CV correctly, you will have explained how you are a good fit for the job. This leaves your cover letter to explain in detail why you want the job and why you want to work for them.

What if an employer doesn’t ask for a cover letter?

Not all employers ask for cover letters. If they don’t ask for one, you don’t have to send one, but you still could! Remember, the cover letter is your opportunity to stand out and show how enthusiastic and motivated you are for the role and the company.

5 mistakes that international students make in their cover letters

1  Not using the correct format of a UK business letter. Employers are assessing your ability to write a formal letter. It is likely in your job that you will write letters to customers or clients. Employers want to know you can do this in a professional way. Search online for “business letter format UK” and you will find examples how to set out a letter correctly.

2  Writing statements like “I want to work for a well-known, global company with a great reputation”. This may be true, but it is too vague to be meaningful. A company wants to believe you genuinely want to work for them, and not just any company. You can show you genuinely want to work for them by telling them things you know about the company. This means doing a little bit of research. Once you know how to do this, you will be able to do the research required in 5-10 minutes. A) Visit the company website. B) Find something you like about them. Something that makes you say “wow” or “oh!”. Something that makes you feel good about the company. It may be an award they won. Or that they let staff have 3 days per year to volunteer. Or their sustainability strategy. Find something that matters to you. That connects to you in some way. C) Write about what you found in the cover letter, and be very specific. Whatever you write should only be true for this company.

“All students want a job where they can develop skills and grow a career! You need to think much more deeply about why you want this specific job role. Why do you want to do this job? Which of the tasks in the job description do you really like? Why?”

For example: “CMG won the RedField award in 2021 and 2022, for your focus on sustainability in your office supply chain. I did a module on sustainable supply chains which I found fascinating and it really convinced me of the importance of a sustainable approach. I’d love to work for a CMG who is doing such a good job of this”. Much stronger and more impactful than “I like that CMG is interested in sustainability”.

Top Tip: start with the “About us” or “Our values” or “Our History” section of a company website. You may have to scroll to the very bottom of the page to find it.

3  Writing statements like “I want a job role where I can develop my skills and grow my career”. I know you care deeply about your own development. Many employers will care too, but a statement like this will not make you stand out. All students want a job where they can develop skills and grow a career! You need to think much more deeply about why you want this specific job role. Why do you want to do this job? Which of the tasks in the job description do you really like? Why? What is it about being a (insert your preferred job role here) that motivates you?

DON’T write: “I’m thinking about project management because it seems like a good fit for my skills. It sounds like an interesting career. I think it would be a good challenge. I’m keen to get some experience and start on a career path.”

Write this instead: “I want to be a project manager because I find leading people, deadlines and resources really motivating. During university I found creating a work plan with time limits and then tracking my progress against the plan really enjoyable, especially when the plan involved other people. I’ve enjoyed helping clients whilst working in retail, so adding my interest in projects with wanting to please the client appeals to me.”

Top tip: This might take a lot of thinking about to get to your real reason why you are interested in the role. use www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/  to understand more about the job you are applying for. Another way to get a good answer is to keep asking why, like this; I want to be a consultant. WHY? Because I want to have a job which is interesting? WHY? Because I like variety WHY? Because I enjoy doing different things each day WHY? I like meeting different people and solving new problems… and so on.

4  Using overly formal language. Most countries have their own style of Business-English. Many countries use words that are now considered a bit old-fashioned in the UK. Avoid phrases like “your most esteemed company” “I would be honoured to join your respected company”. These phrases may be commonly used in your home country, but in UK culture they feel a bit insincere, and like empty flattery. Instead, find facts about the company that appeal to you. Such as “HGR has 20 million customers across 13 countries. I’m keen to work for a company that provides a quality service which is valued by its customers.”

5  Including information that belongs in your CV. Your CV and cover letter do different things.

CV = how your skills, experiences and qualifications match the job role.

Cover letter = why you want the job and why you want to work for this company plus a BRIEF summary of how you match the role.

Your cover letter should only contain a brief description of skills, experiences or qualifications that match the job role. Why not read our blog 5 mistakes international students make in their UK CVs to improve your CV?

Want more advice about cover letters? Find out what help Career Zone provides with cover letters including workshops, online resources and this handy guide.

My Career in Translation – Wing Sze Hung

Wing Sze Hung Graduated from the University of Exeter in MA International Relations, 2016.

Wing Sze Hung University of Exeter Alumn, and Official Languages Officer for the Fire Services Department, Hong Kong Special Administrative Government.

She’s currently Official Languages Officer for the Fire Services Department, Hong Kong Special Administrative Government.

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?  

I joined FILA Hong Kong in Feb 2019 as a translator/interpreter for the Irish Design Director, then became an Official Languages Officer of the Hong Kong Government in Sep 2019 and have been working under the Fire Services Department until now.

My main duties include translating articles from Chinese to English and vice versa, vetting Chinese and English materials, and drafting Chinese apothegms/couplets. I also work for the Duty Lawyer Service after office hours to provide interpretation while foreign lawyers offer their legal advice to non-English speaking residents. 

“Although it may sound boring to keep translating/refining articles everyday, I can put my hands on different materials ranging from lighthearted promotional leaflets to professional operational manuals, so much fun indeed!”

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?  

I did my bachelor degree in translation in Hong Kong and I always enjoy working with languages. I worked for a private translation company before travelling to Exeter. I applied for the post of Official Languages Officer after graduation in Oct 2018.

I got an offer after passing a series of written test, sight translation test and interview. I enjoy the variety of jobs I am exposed to in my current position. Although it may sound boring to keep translating/refining articles everyday, I can put my hands on different materials ranging from lighthearted promotional leaflets to professional operational manuals, so much fun indeed! I also have two supportive supervisors and a team of superb colleagues. 

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?  

Back when I was doing my bachelor degree, study life was quite relaxing and stress-free. In contrast, doing a MA in International Relations was tough, especially in the first Term, when I found it hard to complete all the weekly readings but I had to do so or else I would not be able to join the class discussions.

That said, I enjoyed having to be so hard working, because it proved I had made a right decision to leave my family, travel such a long way and pay a relative high tuition fee to study abroad. The biggest highlight was that I was “trained” to be more expressive in classes. In Hong Kong the lecturer/professor was the main speaker and students would not even raise questions in class, but in Exeter the lecturer/professor was more like a moderator who facilitated class discussions and raised new insights/challenges to students.

I remember being the only non-European student in Dr. Alex Prichard’s “Power and Institution” (still not a compulsory course back then), he often invited me to share my views in class, which freaked me out because I could not really understand the reading materials and I was afraid that I would say something wrong. I want to thank Alex for probably unknowingly pushing me to be a better self, if he never had encouraged me to speak up, I would just remain silent in class and learn much less than I could.

Another highlight was the learning environment in class and after-class. I heard from my housemate that many of the students in the Business School were Chinese, but in the Politics departments, I was happily the minority and got a chance to submerge in a fully-English learning environment. My proficiency in English, no matter written or oral, has significantly increased, and it is a life-long benefit to my career development. My classmates are all very friendly. 

“The knowledge and theories in International Relations may not be directly related to my career today, but my writing, critical-thinking, communication and inter-personal skills have all advanced from my time in Exeter.”

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?  

The knowledge and theories in International Relations may not be directly related to my career today, but my writing, critical-thinking, communication and inter-personal skills have all advanced from my time in Exeter. The former two have been particularly useful for my career since my main duties are exactly to write and to improve other’s writing.

Having written a number of essays in Exeter and received constructive comments from my lecturers, I could spot out most of the problems in the articles handed over to us for our vetting, including unclear and illogical writing and bad English usage, then reorganise the ideas and put them back on the right track. As for the latter two, they are essential for me to maintain a close working relationship with my colleagues and communicate my ideas with officers from other divisions. 

“Nearly everyone in the translation field can write well, but not a lot are confident and skilled enough to interpret. It will definitely be a bonus if you can handle consecutive and even simultaneous interpretation.”

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?  

Strengthen your fundamental language skills, especially oral communication. Nearly everyone in the translation field can write well, but not a lot are confident and skilled enough to interpret. It will definitely be a bonus if you can handle consecutive and even simultaneous interpretation. Be prepared at all times. 

What are your plans for the future?  

I will remain serving the Fire Services Department for a year, then get posted to another Government Department. This appears to be a clear and reliable path for me but I am also trying to look for overseas job opportunities in face of the changing environment in Hong Kong. 

5 mistakes international students make in their UK CVs

Claire Guy is Employability and Careers Consultant with the University of Exeter Business School.

In the UK, employers will tell you exactly what they want from the perfect candidate.

CV writing is much harder than most people think. They are difficult to get right. UK students make lots of mistakes in their CVs. Creating a UK CV can be a challenge for international students, especially if you are used to your country’s CV or resume writing rules.  

We see some common mistakes at the Career Zone in the CVs that international students write. Here’s our top 5: 

1 Adding a photo to your CV 

In the UK we have employment laws which are designed to protect people from discrimination. The laws stop employers from hiring people based on their gender, age, or nationality (as well as other things). Photographs reveal a lot of personal information (like gender, age and nationality) and can lead to discrimination. Research has shown that attractive people have an advantage when applying for jobs. The effects are not usually deliberate – interviewers don’t realise they are influenced by how someone looks. UK employment laws are designed to prevent these effects. This means that UK CVs do NOT include information such as nationality, marriage status, date of birth or age, and definitely not photos. The only reason to add your photo is if you are applying for a modelling or acting role!  

2 Including a “declaration of truth” 

Although common in some other countries, UK CVs do not contain a declaration of truth.  Employers trust that you will only include information which is true, and not write anything which is false.  

3 Spelling and grammar 

I can imagine how hard it is to write a CV in a different language! Correct spelling and grammar is important. UK employers will reject a CV with spelling and grammar mistakes. This is because UK jobs require good English. You will be expected to write reports or communicate with colleagues and clients. A CV with bad spelling and grammar will make an employer question if you can do those things. Bad spelling and grammar show poor attention to detail (an important skill for many jobs). Bad spelling and grammar also imply that you didn’t try very hard to write a good CV and that you don’t really want the job. Use a spell-checker! You can also use CV360 – it will give you feedback on spelling and grammar, as well as other things. 

4 Using the same CV for each job  

In the UK, employers will tell you exactly what they want from the perfect candidate. Job adverts usually contain a list of skills that they want. You must look closely at the job advert, highlight each skill they ask for, and then include them in your CV. This means you must change your CV for EVERY job you apply for. It takes more time but is much more successful than sending the same CV each time. If you want to understand more about how to tailor your CV, book onto one of our regular CV workshops on Handshake.  

5 Missing soft skills 

In many countries, soft skills are not an important part of a CV. You may not have added soft skills to your CV before. Don’t simply add them to a bullet-point list. Instead, think about where you have used that skill. Was it during your studies? An internship? In the family business? Choose the most relevant part of your CV and add it into your description of that activity. For example:” Collaborated in a team of 5, to produce a presentation. Met weekly to plan content. Negotiated responsibility for tasks. Presented to an audience of 30 students and academics, developing strong team-working and communication skills”.  

Top tip: It’s a really good idea to look up the definition of a soft skill – they are much more complicated than you think. Simply search online for the skill you are trying to include in your CV like this “communication skill definition” or “teamwork skill definition”.  Reading a skill definition will also help you think about how to add it to your CV.  

CVs are an important part of your success in finding work in the UK. Let us help you get it right. Find out more about the help available from Career Zone with CVs.  

Alumni Profile – Issa Belmond Thullah, Research and Security Analyst, Office of National Security, Sierra Leone

Issa Belmond Thullah, Exeter Alumn and current Research and Security Analyst, Office of National Security, Sierra Leone.

Issa Belmond Thullah graduated from the University of Exeter in MA Applied Security and Strategy, 2020. He’s currently Research and Security Analyst, Office of National Security, Sierra Leone.

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?  

When I left Exeter, I returned home to work for the Office of National Security which is the main coordinating outfit within the security sector, and advises the President of the country on national security matters. Currently, I am contributing to the wider security sector efforts to prepare for, and respond effectively to, threats and hazards that impact on the peace and safety of communities in Sierra Leone. 

“I choose this career because of my past. Between 1991 and 2002, Sierra Leone suffered a brutal civil war that devastated the country to almost irreparable proportions. I was always striving to make a change in my country that will help to resuscitate the lives of those who were affected by the war and to ensure that such does not repeat itself.”

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?  

I choose this career because of my past. Between 1991 and 2002, Sierra Leone suffered a brutal civil war that devastated the country to almost irreparable proportions. The war left 50,000 dead and 20,000 mutilated, while three quarters of the population displaced. I witnessed my country crumbled and succumbed to the atrocities of the war. Lodged with this experience, I was always striving to make a change in my country that will help to resuscitate the lives of those who were affected by the war and to ensure that such does not repeat itself. This is why I decided to work in the security sector to help stabilize the country and create the enabling environment for peace and development to thrive. What I enjoyed most about my job is working with diverse people and changing society for the better. 

“The course is exceptional not just because of its rich academic package, but also the noteworthy field trips and experience sharing by practitioners, offered by external speakers.”

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?  

What I enjoyed most about the MA Applied Security and Strategy programme is the perfect dialogue between theory and practice. The course is exceptional not just because of its rich academic package, but also the noteworthy field trips and experience sharing by practitioners, offered by external speakers. Students are availed the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real life situations and get their career ready. My biggest highlight is the field trips to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London and Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) in Gloucestershire. 

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?  

The field of security and strategy is dynamic enough to accommodate a variety of skills and competencies. However, those I consider most useful are adaptability and problem solving, leadership and administration, innovation and strong work ethic, critical thinking, communication, organization and time-management, data analysis, project design and management.  

“Use your time at the University to engage as much as you can with materials and people to hone your skills and get your career ready.”

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?  

Chosen security and strategy is a great choice. Use your time at the University to engage as much as you can with materials and people to hone your skills and get your career ready. The field of security and strategy offers many career opportunities with satisfactory experience. One is assured of employment in the government, think-tanks, defence and intelligence industry, companies engaged in security research and analysis, non-profit organisations etc. There is so much prospect to grow and live your dreams. 

What are your plans for the future?  

In the long run, my goal is to move up the hierarchy of the national security sector architecture and be part of the highest bodies for the consideration and determination of matters of security and development in my country. Also, I intend to pursue an academic career as university professor. 

Returning Home and Impressing Employers with your Time in the UK

Going back home after your time at Exeter? We’re able to help you wherever you are via phone, email or video appointment.

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.

As an international student you have worked so hard during your studies. You have adapted to UK culture, developed your language skills, and taken on academic challenges. Surely employers in your home country will be fighting to offer you a job?

While it is true that many employers see the benefits of a UK education, you will not be the only overseas-educated student returning home. The competition may be tougher than you expect. You may need to do more than show your degree certificate and watch the job offers coming in!

Here are our top 10 tips for international students who plan to return home after their studies:

1 Stay connected to the job market in your home country

It can be tempting to focus purely on your studies in the UK and leave your job search until you get home. This might mean a few months between arriving home and starting work though. The job-hunting process often takes longer than you might expect. It’s unlikely that you will get the first job you apply for. Would you be happy with this? Could you support yourself financially while you look for work at home?

Most students would rather have a job waiting for them after finishing their studies. In today’s virtual world, job searching at a distance is possible for international students. You will need to know how and when employers in your country typically recruit. For example, in the UK application season is October to January but in China, there are two periods, September to November and March to May. Employers in Malaysia tend to recruit all year round. What is the schedule in your country?

The following websites contain useful information about employment around the world, as well as country-specific job vacancies.

You should also pay attention to any channels specific to your country i.e. Weibo / LinkedIn

2 Don’t forget connections at home

Your friends and family are a huge source of support- tell them all that you are looking for work. Ask them to help by introducing you professionals who might be able to give advice about working in your country. Tell them to let you know if they see or hear of opportunities.

At Exeter we have strong alumni networks of graduates from most countries. Many of them are keen to support current students too – why not reach out to alumni in your region through one of our groups?

You could also connect with professionals working in your sector via LinkedIn. We have written a super guide about using the alumni networking tool. Have a look at industry-related groups or country specific events too.

3 Make the most of your time in the UK

Most international students would love to find a UK internship. However, internships are competitive and usually need to be applied for months in advance. UK internships mostly run over the summer and so may not fit with term dates if you are a postgraduate student. This means that you may not be successful in getting an internship. The good news is that there are lots and lots of other alternatives to internships which will still help you tell a rich story about your time in the UK.

By getting involved in extra-curricular activities, you can show your ability to fit in, add value to wider communities and work on social issues that may be relevant to employers. At very least, you will have fun and build a network! If you’d like to find out more about ways you can develop during your studies, why not come along to our workshop Maximising Your Time as an International Student in the UK or see our advice on the Career Zone international student pages.

Think about what makes you unique. Your improved English language skills are important but you have so much more to offer.

4 Think about what makes you unique

Your improved English language skills are important but you have so much more to offer.

  • You are a self-motivated, risk taker
  • You can adapt to new environments and learning situations
  • You are culturally aware
  • You have a greater understanding of how Europeans do business

These qualities are so impressive to employers. However, you need to explain them clearly because they will not speak for themselves.

Try asking yourself these questions to reflect on what you have learned:

  • What has surprised you most about the UK?
  • What things have you found most difficult? (Tip- difficulty is where we usually learn most!)
  • What were you hoping to gain or develop by coming to the UK that you couldn’t get in your home country?
  • How was your education at home different to what you’ve experienced at Exeter?
  • How are you a different person now?

5 Be prepared to describe your skills and learning

Employers in your home country might not understand why they should hire someone with a Exeter degree or realise the quality of the education you are gaining. It is up to you to explain to them why you are the perfect candidate and why your studies have made you a great future employee. Would you know how to explain your degree to employers in your own country?

Think about how you will explain your studies so that employers at home can understand it. How was it different to studying at home? Did you experience new methods of teaching? Simulated business projects or work-based assignments? Group work? Critical thinking? How would you describe your course to show your new learning, ideas and professional development?

6 Get ready to describe the University of Exeter

Employers in your country may not have heard of the University of Exeter, so it’s up to you to explain how reputable it is. What facts, figures or league table positions could you include in your descriptions? What might you say about your course, professors or college? Make sure you have something ready to tell employers in your home country when they ask about the University.

7 Have a clear and positive answer prepared to explain why you have returned home

Returning home after studying abroad can sometimes raise questions. Employers may wonder why you didn’t stay in the UK. They may think you were not good enough to find work. Make sure you explain to them that you made the choice to come home. Although some of your reasons may be because of family or friends or lifestyle, try to answer in a way that benefits the employer. Be positive in your explanation, for example:

“I couldn’t wait to bring home my insights into European sustainability in business to Thailand, particularly around the use of plastics. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere other than Thailand and as the world’s 6th biggest contributor of ocean waste there is a lot of work for us to do! I really want to be part of that.”

8 Be realistic

You may not find an employer who wants to pay you a higher salary simply because you have a British qualification. Feedback from some employers around the world is that returning students can sometimes be over-confident and expect better opportunities than home educated students. Sometimes your UK education may really show the benefits when you start to apply for promotions, so be patient.

Talking to Exeter alumni or other professionals in your home country will help you to have realistic expectations.

9 Be prepared for reverse culture shock

Do you remember how you felt when you arrived in Exeter? I bet it was exhausting! Trying to get everything done, learn new things and speak English all the time.

Going back home might feel the same. You will be different and so will your friends and family. Life will have moved on at home. However, they may have little understanding of how your time at Exeter has changed your outlook. Be prepared for things to feel a little difficult and be kind to yourself in the first few weeks.

10 Stay in touch

As a graduate from the University of Exeter, a forever institution, you are not only entitled to all of the fantastic resources that the alumni office can offer, you also have access to the Career Zone forever. All of our graduate Career Zone support and resources are now housed in one central location for you to access from your home country.

For more help with taking your UK experience back home, come along to our workshop on the topic which runs several times each year, and is bookable on Handshake. We run a series of workshops specifically for international students on other topics too.

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.

Alumni Profile – Kristen Fader, Master of Art Conservation Candidate, Queen’s University, Ontario

Kristen Fader, current Master of Art Conservation Candidate specialising in Japanese and Chinese wood block prints, lithographic prints, papyrus, and sustainability in conservation at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada.

Kristen Fader is a current Master of Art Conservation Candidate, at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. Her specialism is in Japanese and Chinese wood block prints, lithographic prints, papyrus, and sustainability in conservation. She graduated from the University of Exeter with a Masters in Classics and Ancient History in 2020, before returning to her home country.

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I have recently begun my Masters of Art Conservation with a specialisation in paper and photographic objects. This is the only program in Canada, and I am one of three students accepted into my stream, so it has been such a ride to preparing for the program, being accepted, and finally being here in the thick of it all. To prepare for applying to this program, I volunteered as a conservation assistant at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter while completing a Masters of Classics and Ancient History. I may have never discovered this career path without attending the University of Exeter, so I am so grateful to my time spent in Devon.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I choose this career path because I have always loved history. In fact, my undergraduate degree was in Political Science, but I decided to pursue my passion of Ancient History at Exeter. I thought I would go on to do a PhD, but it just wasn’t practical enough for me; fast forward a few months into my M.A. at Exeter and I discovered Art Conservation was something I could do. It combines science (mainly organic chemistry), art history, and practical hands-on art conservation skills. This three-legged stool is something I enjoy most about my career because my expertise is quite multi-disciplinary, something I have always valued throughout my educational path.

What did you enjoy most about your programme at Exeter, and what was the biggest highlight?

I really enjoyed how you could narrow in on your own interests. After discovering art conservation, I began to look at how I could tailor my degree to focus a bit more on art history and conservation ethics since I had mostly been focusing on mythology at that point. I was able to look at the ethics of removing layers of cartonnage from Egyptian mummies, and my thesis focused on concepts of originality and authenticity of Roman “copies” of Greek “originals.” The beginning of the year in 2020 was when COVID became very serious in England, and so I had to return to Canada, but I never would have been able to continue my studies if it wasn’t for the amazing support from everyone in the program.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Being flexible/resilient and building up a good knowledge base. Art conservation a lot of the time is almost like a riddle. You have to figure out what the object is, what it is made up of, and then figure out how to conserve it from there. Sometimes things works, and sometimes they really don’t. It is in these times that you have to be confident in what you have studied outside of the lab, and also be resilient to go back in and try something else.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Do you chemistry classes! Unfortunately I had to take a year to take organic chemistry because I did not have all of my requirements for applying. Chemistry is such a vital component of this field, and it has been so great beginning to see how chemistry can be applied in an art conservation context.

What are your plans for the future?

For my program, I have two internships to complete in the summer after studies each year. My plan is to complete one at the British Museum, or possibly the British Library, next summer. I hope to set up my professional career in either England or Europe, and so having already lived in England, I am very grateful that I now know how to go through that process.

The Career Zone – Helping you Reach your Career Goals

Our range of services can really help you gain crucial experience, and boost your careers confidence. Even if you’re studying at Exeter for a year, we can help you maximise your time at University, and help you on your way to a bright future. We talked to Anda about her experience of using the Career Zone, and how we’re helping her with her career path.

Anda, please tell me a little about your background, you are a European student studying social science at postgraduate level at Exeter – why did you choose Exeter?

I am a European student and a Criminology and Psychology graduate. I study MSc in Social and Organisational Psychology at the University of Exeter. I have chosen to study for my Master’s at Exeter for a few reasons. Firstly, I chose Exeter because it is a Russel Group university and a leading university for research and teaching. I specifically liked the research culture within the Psychology department. Second, I wanted to study Social Psychology, and Exeter is one of the few universities that offer this specialisation in the UK. I really liked the practical aspect of my course, for example, we had an extended research project module and we got to learn and practice advance statistics which I believe is a great skill to have for employability.

Anda, current MSc in Social and Organisational Psychology student at the University of Exeter

“After the one year I have spent at the University of Exeter I can say that the career advice and support I have received at the University were one of the best opportunities for my career.”

In your time at Exeter what was particularly useful to you about the services the University offered?

While I expected to really enjoy my course, I did not expect the Career Zone and employment opportunities to be so good. Now, after the one year I have spent at the University of Exeter I can say that the career advice and support I have received at the University were one of the best opportunities for my career, as it really helped me develop the skills for searching, applying and securing jobs but also offered me the opportunity to apply for internships within the University and get the essential work experience I needed.

You told us that you used Handshake and our webpages to apply for five jobs in the year and actually took four of those jobs on – four jobs in one year! Tell me about that please, how was the application process, how important were the jobs to your career development?

Yes, I have used Handshake and I have applied and worked on two Student Campus Partnerships (SCP) jobs in current research undertaken at the University, one marketing internship through the Pathways to Marketing scheme where I worked as a Data Analyst within a marketing company, and I worked as a Student Ambassador.

I found the Handshake site very useful. When I was looking for jobs, I would write in the keywords I was looking such as ‘research’, and I would check it periodically to find new opportunities. I found it very useful that underneath each job posting the Career Zone attaches a short advice list that summaries all the things you need to consider when writing an application (such as information about how to write a cover letter). All the University internships come with a standardised application form which makes it very easy to structure your answers and learn what employers are looking for at each stage. Therefore, the process of applying to jobs at the University of Exeter is easy because it is streamlined and organised.

The jobs were very important to my career development. Before coming to Exeter, I only had one relevant job experience (for the career that I want) and some volunteering experience. Now, I have three other extremely relevant positions on my CV and I have learned so many useful skills that have helped me develop professionally and bolstered my confidence.

“The jobs were very important to my career development. Before coming to Exeter, I only had one relevant job experience and some volunteering experience. Now, I have three other extremely relevant positions on my CV and I have learned so many useful skills that have helped me develop professionally and bolstered my confidence.”

Could you tell me about some of the workshops and sessions run by the Career Zone that you undertook?  

Before I started applying to jobs, I went on Handshake and booked many sessions that could help me improve my employability skills. I have attended sessions on writing your CV, cover letter and interview skills. I have also attended employers’ events and meetings, LinkedIn workshops, and a workshop about building resilience and confidence. I have also used an interview tool provided by the University which simulated a trial interview with pre-made questions and a video recording option.

I also had the opportunity to be appointed to a mentor through the Career Mentor Scheme and I have received valuable career advice from my mentor.

Lastly, I have applied for and was awarded the Exeter Award which is an acknowledgement from the University of all the extra-curricular activities I have participated in such as training and jobs.

You had also done some online self-evaluation, to assess your strengths and weaknesses, how did that help you?

Yes, I did. I feel like the evaluation tools mostly confirmed what I already knew but I have taken into consideration my results and used the identified strengths in my CV, while I started to work on my limitations in order to surpass them.

“I believe that my course and amazing lectures and as well as the Career Zone workshops and work experience have helped me develop personally and professionally and offered me the tools to reach my career and academic goals.”

You mentioned to us that doing all of this extra-curricular activity gave you extra confidence, that’s great, how do you think this will help your plans for the future?

I gained a lot of confidence in the last year as before coming to Exeter, I found job applications daunting and I was very pessimistic about my employment opportunities. However, once I gained the right skills through the sessions I have attended through the career service and I started to apply for positions that I was actually appointed to I felt better and better about my capabilities, knowledge and future prospects. As a result, prior to finishing my Masters, I started applying for PhD positions because I have always wanted to work in research and academia.

After a few applications, I have been awarded a funded PhD position for the project I was most interested in. I have worked very hard for both my academic and extra-curricular achievements but I am also very grateful for all the help I have received here at the University of Exeter. I believe that my course and amazing lectures and as well as the Career Zone workshops and work experience have helped me develop personally and professionally and offered me the tools to reach my career and academic goals.

We’d love to help you with your career planning, come in and see us in the Forum, Streatham Campus, or in the Exchange, Penryn Campus.

Or you can live chat with us on our website

email careers@exeter.ac.uk

call us 01392 724493 9am – 5pm

Monday to Friday, including Vacations 

How to Use your Finance Degree to Pursue a Career in Jordan

Raniah Raed Talal Shawkat, University of Exeter alumn, and current Acting Credit Manager, Iiwwa Inc, Jordan

Raniah Raed Talal Shawkat graduated from the University of Exeter with an Msc in Finance and Management. She’s currently Acting Credit Manager, Iiwwa Inc, Jordan.

Where do you currently live and work? 

I now live and work in Jordan. After my studies in Exeter, I joined multiple internships then started working as credit officer for SMEs clients at liwwa, Inc. I’ve been with them for 3 years and 3 months, and recently promoted as Acting Credit Manager.

Why did you choose to pursue this career?

I chose this career as it needs analytical skills in addition to decision making, which I like. And I can use the knowledge and skills acquired during my studies to implement and develop through this career.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Exeter?

The first point as it is one of the top UK universities, the second thing is my interest in the programme I wanted to study and finally its location as I know some relatives and friends who studied there previously and could gave me ideas and advice about the city. I liked everything about Exeter: the city, the campus, the availability of resources at the library.

Why did you choose your particular degree subject?

I liked the programme and its modules. I also took into account recommendations form friends studied there before me.

How did your degree help you prepare for the position you are in now?

It taught me analytical thinking, quick problem solving, ownership, entrepreneurship, solidarity, agility, and active listening.

Please tell us about the application process for your graduate job, and how you prepared and/or managed this?

I found the job through LinkedIn, went through multiple interviews, the cover letter and a follow up email reflecting on the interview, expressing the interest, the skills and values that can be added had a good impact.

Did you use the Career Zone whilst at Exeter? If so, what especially helped?

I attended some job fairs at the campus which was helpful to get an idea and planning about the career.

What aspects of your UK university education worked in your favour during the application process?

I could sense the focus on developing analytical skills and strategic thinking. Also, living abroad alone for the first time in my life taught me a lot of things and made me a stronger person mentally.

What did you do at university that you think gave you a competitive advantage in the job market in your home-country?

The practical dissertation part of my degree. It gave me the opportunity to work on a real life cases, analyse the financial theories and practice forecasting and valuation which solidified all that I had learnt through the programme on a practical level. I also was a member of the Financial group.

What were the biggest obstacles in gaining a graduate job in your home-country?

There is almost no or very rare organizations that offer internships for graduates, this has a bad impact especially for people who didn’t gain much experience before getting their postgraduate degree.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were applying for opportunities?

The importance of continuous learning and obtaining professional qualifications.

What is your advice for any international student seeking a career in finance and wanting to follow a similar path to you?

I would encourage them to focus on their studies from the first day they join the school.

Our alumni networks in these countries are available to help you socially and professionally now and in the future. You can connect with them whilst you are a student to take advantage of their support when you are back home during holiday season, and of course, reach out to them when you graduate.

The Alumni Office organise regular virtual employability events, which are a useful resource both for graduates and current students. For a full listing of events, please click here and to watch historic records, please click here