Finding a job can be a challenge for anyone. When you’re hunting for a job in a foreign country whilst also studying, you may be faced with extra hurdles you need to overcome.
How should you go about finding work as an international student in the UK?
Here are seven top tips to help you find work whilst studying.
- Use Your University’s Career Service
When you enroll in your university, one of the first things to do is introduce yourself to the Career Service department. All UK universities have a Career Service team that is there to help you find work during your studies, as well as after you graduate.
The department and its staff will guide you with things like:
- Creating the perfect Curriculum Vitae (CV).
- Sending powerful applications.
- Preparing well for the interviews.
- Finding the right career path for you.
The last point can be a particular benefit if you’re able to get a job linked to the career you want to follow post-graduation. For example, if you’re doing a law degree then your university’s Career Service team may be able to help you find a junior position at a lawyer’s offices.
The service is free to use so you can benefit from it a great deal. You should also attend the events the department organizes; they are a great opportunity to meet prospective employers! Networking is one of the best ways to get a job in the modern world and it’s important to take advantage of the opportunity to do so.
- Understand Your Visa Conditions
Before looking for work you should always know your visa situation and the conditions it imposes on your eligibility to work. The official international student visa in the UK is the Tier 4 visa, which places restrictions on your eligibility.
In general, under this visa you are allowed to work under the following conditions:
- Part-time up to 20 hours per week during term-time.
- Full-time during holiday breaks.
- Work must be authorized.
You can find the limits on your Tier 4 visa sticker and information letter.
There are also other rules for Tier 1 and Tier 5 visa holders. It’s important to know the rules regarding your visa to ensure you don’t break the law. More information is available from the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.
- Sort Out the Paperwork
Finding a job does involve paperwork so it can help to get as much of this out of the way before you start looking. It goes without saying that you should always have an up-to-date CV so it’s quick and simple to apply for roles as soon as you come across one you are interested in.
Aside from that, anyone working in the UK will need a National Insurance Number. You can find out more about how to get it from the GOV UK website.
It’s also a good idea to get on top of your taxation. You can understand the rules regarding UK taxation for international students by reading our previous blog post on the topic.
- Look for Roles Early
If you want a part-time job while studying or something during the holidays, start applying early and don’t wait until the last minute. Many investment banks and other major corporations, for example, often start looking for new employees in August and September. Although the application deadline might be well into November, applications are usually reviewed on a rolling basis. This means that you might get the role as soon as you apply.
Temporary jobs for Christmas or Summer should also be sought in advance. You have a higher chance of landing the role if you show initiative early instead of waiting until the last minute.
- Apply for a Graduate Scheme
Graduate summer schemes and internships are offered in the UK and they are a fantastic opportunity for students. Recruitment tends to be annual but it happens a year in advance - so you apply to start the program in the following year.
Applying for a graduate scheme can help you gain valuable job experience and you can sometimes even land a job at the end. Even if you don’t get a place in these schemes, the process can teach you a lot about the application and interview process.
You can find more about graduate schemes directly from company websites but also through your university Career Service.
- Prepare for the Application Process
The application process for most student jobs in the UK is straightforward. If you have any queries, you can always find company-specific application processes from the employer’s website. If you’re applying through this kind of official channel, the process usually involves:
- Completing an online application and sending your CV, as well as a cover letter.
- Completing online aptitude tests.
- Having a telephone or face-to-face interview (often both), including activities such as case study work, group exercises and so on.
It’s also possible to simply supply the company your CV and cover letter outside of the official application process. If the company likes what you offer, they may organize an interview to see if you would be a good fit for their organization.
- Know Where to Look
You have a lot of options in terms of finding jobs to apply for. As mentioned, your university Careers Service is a great place as many employers advertise with local universities.
There are other sources as well, many of them available online. You can browse jobs at:
Many UK cafes, shops and bars will also advertise vacancies directly in the window or inside. Keep your eyes peeled as you’re out and about. You never know when an opportunity could appear!
Finding Work in the UK as an International Student
Finding work in the UK while studying is straightforward, albeit you need to put the necessary effort in as you would applying for any job. There are lots of part-time jobs out there and British employers appreciate employees that:
- Have good language skills.
- Work hard and show initiative and quick thinking.
- Aren’t afraid of challenges.
- Are polite and friendly to people.
Take the above tips on board, stay active in your job hunt and use any networking opportunities that come along to your advantage. The right attitude goes a long way and you’ll soon land a great job to help you earn some money while studying in the UK.