Jennifer Aduro

July 9, 2024, by Jackie Thompson

My advice to international students thinking about their future career

By Jennifer Aduro, MA Digital Teaching and Learning graduate

When I was coming to the end of my studies as a digital teaching and learning (DTL) master’s student in 2021, I honestly had no idea what job roles to apply to. I knew what I wanted to do in a broad sense; design learning experiences but I felt there were challenges.

I considered my inexperience with the hiring environment in the UK, coupled with the uncertainty of the market due to COVID, the skills gap I had (as I was new to the field in some sense), and being unsure how to proceed, were things I needed to resolve. So, I booked a meeting with the Careers team and one of the options on the form to indicate a reason for booking the appointment was (paraphrasing here) “I don’t know what I want to do”. I thought, “Yes, that sounds like how I’m feeling.”

My careers appointment

I sent my CV ahead of time and went into that meeting hoping for clarity. I met with a careers adviser, Anna, and the discussion covered a lot more things and I got more out of it than I expected.

We spoke about my experience, the skills gap I felt I had and she helped me see how experience in other areas, and the knowledge gained from my course could be translated to the required skills.  She also gave me important feedback on my CV, talked about where to find jobs and how to use search terms and generally helped me think through what a career path looked like for me with my skills and education. And not long after the appointment came to an end, she had sent me three job vacancies she thought were a good fit.

My job offer

A week or so later, Anna connected me with Helen Whitehead, a learning technologist at the university, who was running a two-week online programme and whom she had told I wanted some hands-on experience with facilitating digital learning. Helen was happy to take me on and those two weeks were an eye-opening experience and proved to be of great value.

All this paid off because I had my first meeting with Anna in September and got a job in October, only a month after I submitted my dissertation.

That was when I understood how important the Careers team is to graduates especially international students like me who are not familiar with the work culture and the hiring processes of the country we have chosen to study in.

My role as a learning technologist

Now, and for the last three years, I have been doing what I love to do; designing learning experiences. I work as a learning technologist in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham. It has been great as I’ve gone from seeing the student side of the systems to creating, evaluating and curating these experiences for other students on the design side.

I can say that the concern about my skills gap was allayed with my work experience, especially as I have used some of my healthcare knowledge and experience from my first degree in occupational therapy. However, I may not have had the confidence to apply for certain jobs if Anna hadn’t explained how to evidence and translate my previous experience in my CV and at interviews.

My advice to international students

This is what I tell every international student I meet; before you start fretting and before you start sending those multiple applications, talk to the Careers team in your school. In my experience they want you to succeed and get a job almost as much as you do, and they want this for two main reasons:

1 They really and truly want you to succeed

2 It is free and excellent marketing for the school. To be able to say, “We provide a great education and support for our students to not only do well in school but also to go on and excel after school”, reflects very well on them. No surprise, UoN graduates are among the most sought-after by UK’s top employers

So please make use of them. Start early if you can, but even if you’ve graduated and you’re still struggling, reach out to them, they serve alumni as well. Don’t forget, they are experts, they know a thing or two about recruiting.

If you’re an international student and would like to chat about navigating the UK job market, or you’ve finished the DTL programme and need tips to evidence skills from the programme, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

If you’re an international student looking for work experience or a graduate job in the UK, go to our international students webpages and book an appointment with an adviser.

Posted in Alumni StoriesInternational StudentsPostgraduate Taught Students