September 22, 2022, by jhillary1
How I Secured a Graduate Job in the UK as an International Student
By Malaika Cornelio, Economics student
At the beginning of my academic journey after starting my Economics degree, I envisioned a career path closely related to my degree, such as policy analysis. However, during my second year of university, I veered off this path to explore a career in tech to challenge myself and diversify my CV. This led me to apply for and secure a year-long internship with Microsoft UK, contrary to my initial career goals.
Exploring my options
My other university and course choices on UCAS included economics with a placement year, so I knew that I wanted to add another layer to my course mainly around gaining work experience. This was really to increase my employability upon graduation, which was crucial to me as an international student.
What spring boarded me to this stage was being surrounded by a lot of students with placement years integrated into their course. Learning from peers motivated me to approach Student Services to investigate applying for an optional placement year, given that the School of Economics did not have integrated placement year options. Additionally, being surrounded by peers on this track gave me an insight into the assessment requirements, the role of the university and the procedures involved in a placement year.
Having completed my placement year, I have debunked a lot of my previous doubts. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and not letting imposter syndrome take over was a great driver that got me to this point. When applying to internships, I looked for roles where I could utilise my previous experiences and interests. For instance, by completing the Nottingham Consultancy Challenge (Nottingham Advantage Award module) I learned that I enjoyed prescribing tailor-fitted solutions to clients, conducting layered business analysis and extensively exercising problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, my friend who had recommended I explore my options in tech helped me understand that I could still apply for consultancy roles in a tech company, pursuing my interests and utilising my analytical thinking skills.
Securing my internship at Microsoft
The preparation for the application process was hard work – I was juggling these preparations whilst continuing my university work, exams and various commitments to student societies.
I used the Careers and Employability Service for support, particularly through a scheduled mock assessment centre. They provided a detailed and useful feedback service which helped me learn about my strengths and grey areas. In addition to this, I referred to a host of self-searched information from ‘big Tech’ careers coaches on the internet which shed light on tips and tricks to succeed in interviews and Super Days. I also used support from organisations like Sanctuary Graduates and SEO London. They had sessions with current Microsoft interns who had talked to potential applicants about the interview process, the company and various roles. This was very helpful with getting contacts from Microsoft and leveraging them during the assessment centre and interviews.
Optimising my time while on placement
At the start of my internship, my manager highlighted some general objectives for my internship, and I used these to structure my placement. I decided to dedicate the last six months of my placement to learning about a customer success graduate role, which I’ve successfully secured as my graduate job.
My placement year has enabled me to think differently, become more organised and has boosted my personal development which will help in my final year and when I start my graduate role. The Careers ‘Spotlight On’ events on placements were very helpful as you can understand exactly what’s involved.
If you’re a student going on a placement or considering doing one – speak to other students who have done so, talk to the Careers and Employability Service and leave plenty of time for self-research. Don’t try to do everything yourself – get support and advice as this provides better perspectives and a better chance of success.
Are you planning to work in the UK either during your studies or after graduation? Take a look at our Working in the UK webpages for available options, advice and support.
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