If you’re coming up to the end of your study in the UK then no doubt you’re currently considering your options for the coming months and years. It can be difficult to choose the direction to take your life in next but essentially you have three choices: graduate school, looking for a job or returning to your home country. Many international students simply return home and for others seeking employment in the UK has been the goal from the start. It might seem like a tough decision but actually you’re in a fantastic position.
The UK has a fantastic education system and so the options for post graduate study in the country are broad and exciting. The choices include taking a Masters or a Ph.D, enrolling on law school courses or attending business or medical school. British qualifications have good standing all over the world so this is a great opportunity to add to your CV. Just remember that graduate school is a much more serious affair than undergraduate study and it costs a lot more. If you have accumulated a lot of debt, or there is unlikely to be a job at the end of the post graduate study, then you may need to re-think the expense – do some research and look at how much the course you want to do costs and what the job prospects are.
Places at graduate schools in the UK are fought over so research at least two or three that appeal to you. Visiting them will give you a good idea of what the school is like and hopefully also give you the chance to meet tutors and ask questions.
Looking for employment
The most important influencing factor in this decision is whether or not your visa allows you to work. You need to understand what the restrictions and requirements are for transitioning from study to work on your visa in the UK so take a look at the UK’s visa website.
Once you know you’re clear to work in the UK then there are many resources that you can use. Most British newspapers have employment sections, many of which are online, and you can also browse British recruitment websites (use a search engine to find them). It’s also worth asking at the university where you’re currently studying to see if they have any recruiting help and advice. As with any job applications process you must bear in mind the fundamentals:
Who is the employer? Research the companies you want to work for, search online, speak to current employees, call the office and ask for information. The better informed you are the easier it will be to impress.
Who are you? By this we mean can you identify – and sell – your best qualities to a potential employer? What are your strengths and weaknesses and what does the employer need to know to give you the job?
How should you apply? Obtain a full copy of the job description in written form and make sure you understand what the role is. If the job description says ‘email applications only’ then follow those guidelines. If you don’t hear anything within a couple of weeks then follow up with a polite enquiry – but be sure to look at the closing date for applications first and wait at least a couple of weeks after that.
Take your interview seriously. Look the part – wear a smart suit and make sure you are well presented in terms of general appearance. Be on time, be calm, maintain eye contact and be polite at all times. Prepare yourself by practicing with friends. Your research of the company should help you prepare for this and there are lots of online resources that provide sample interview questions.
If you’ve been studying in the UK for three or four years then returning home might feel a little strange at first. Give yourself time to adjust. Even though it seems odd, you could well experience a little culture shock on the return trip, in the same way as you may have done when you arrived in the UK. You may not realise how much you have changed and it may take a while to readjust to old behaviours, routines and people.