Image of Zainab stood outside her office

August 22, 2023, by jhillary1

Graduate Route Visa – How I Got a Graduate Job in the UK with a Local SME

By Syeda Zainab Qaiser, Product Manager, NEST Management

I am currently working for Nottingham-based NEST Management, a business management consultancy that provides systems and software to martial arts businesses.

What are your main duties?

I’m responsible for the management of the company’s products and their commercial success by translating business strategy into product strategy. These products include software and mobile applications that help our clients in managing their students and prospects. I provide and create the vision and leadership in developing and supporting the marketing and selling of products while ensuring practices align with the overall company strategy and goals.

By analysing market research and customer feedback, I identify customer needs and business objectives to build and manage the products and support the business in selling them effectively. This often involves creating product roadmaps, executing product strategy, and driving action throughout the company to get products to market on a timely basis. This would usually involve providing insight to stakeholders related to the product and its market, and additionally scoping out user specifications, creating product designs, testing products, and planning for as well as executing product launches.

How did the role fit with your studies?

I got this role through a 200-hour Postgraduate Placements Nottingham (PPN) opportunity, which was advertised in summer 2021. The closing date was the 20 June, and after the interview process, I started my PPN from August 10, 2021. After finishing my contracted hours, the company extended my part-time role by hiring me as a project lead until my graduation, and later offered me a full-time graduate role as a product manager.

What did the application process involve?

As I applied for a PPN, I was required to submit a CV along with an application form, after which I was called in for an interview and presentation.

What was your experience of seeking work in the UK?

Since I transitioned from my placement to a temporary role and then a graduate role at the same company, I did not actively look for other graduate work in the UK. Overall, my experience of seeking a placement (part-time job in this case), applying for it, and going through the interview processes went quite well. It did, however, require considerable time and effort to make a customised CV and cover letter which was tailored to the needs of the opportunity and company I applied for.

I also had to fill out an application form that involved answering questions which allowed the employer to understand how well suited I was for the role. Also, I was required to make a 10-minute presentation as part of my interview to highlight how my skills, expertise, and experience would help me achieve the key outcomes and objectives of the project.

Did you get any support from anyone?

I found the Accelerated Career Leadership Programme (ACLP) sessions really helpful. The ACLP is a Career Development programme designed for MSc students at Nottingham University Business School. These sessions were provided by the NUBS Postgraduate Careers team as a career development module in the first and second semesters of my course. The sessions focused on understanding the UK job market and provided key insights into the application process. Moreover, the Careers team also arranged alumni guest speaker sessions highlighting their experiences in finding jobs, along with sharing relevant sector knowledge which was really helpful.

I only had a day and a half to prepare for my interview, as I received my interview call with very short notice but the NUBS Postgraduate Careers team at the university helped me prepare for the interview and presentation. They scheduled multiple Teams calls with me and gave me very useful tips and advice followed by mock interviews and useful feedback. All meetings were arranged online due to Covid-19, but they proved to be really helpful. I used the advice provided and it paid off!

Were there any setbacks you encountered?

Overall, it was quite a smooth process for me as I transitioned from my 200-hour placement to a project lead role with the same company during my studies and then finally to a full-time graduate position after my graduation. However, it was quite a commitment giving around 20 hours along with my studies. It was manageable as I raised this concern in the interview, and the company was willing to fully cooperate with me by being very flexible with my working hours and allowing me to take a few weeks off around my assessments.

What advice would you give to other international students seeking work in the UK?

I think the highlight for me was the PPN opportunity offered by the University of Nottingham, so I would strongly advise students to actively look for and apply for similar part-time opportunities. Although there is no certainty that these opportunities can always land you a full-time role, they do offer a great learning experience and provide you with relevant UK work experience and skills development which will enhance your CV.

If you are interested in finding out more, visit the How do I get a graduate job in the UK  webpage.  If you would like to discuss your options, you can book a careers appointment.

Posted in Graduate VacanciesInternational Students