May 29, 2015, by International students

My top tips for working in the UK after graduation

Nottingham graduate Justin Loh, who is originally from Malaysia, works in the UK as an Engineering Graduate for East Midlands Trains. In this blog post, Justin shares his tips for applying for graduate jobs in the UK, and adapting to the British working culture.

Engineer at work, operating on a wheelskate

Justin at work, operating on a wheelskate

What is the best thing about working in the UK?

I think the best thing about working in the UK is the whole concept of work-life balance. Coming from a country where work-life balance isn’t practiced regularly, it is refreshing to work in an environment where your time is respected, where you are encouraged to have post-work activities with your colleagues or with your friends. However, this doesn’t mean that I have the luxury of doing that every day. I feel that is great that even though employers respect your time, they also expect you to do fulfil your responsibilities before doing so. However, it creates a pressure-free environment which I feel is very beneficial at work and it personally helps me excel better.

How would you advise others to prepare for success if they aim to work in the UK?

If you have good working ethics in university such as being hardworking, proactive, attentive, punctual and have the motivation and desire to learn and improve yourself, you will definitely have a good chance if not more to succeed at work. It is important to remember though that at work, a career is a lifelong process and things do not change overnight. Therefore, learn as much as you can, as fast as you can if you may, but do not scramble all you can in a short space of time. Take your time and sooner or later, with some luck, the right career progression opportunities will present themselves.

Justin at University, taking part in a third year group project presentation

Justin (standing second from right) at university, taking part in a third year group project presentation

What are your top tips for gaining a good graduate job?

I think one of the biggest mistake an aspiring graduate makes is to blindly apply for jobs in multiple industries. Even if they know what industry to focus on, different companies have different cultures and work ethics, some of which may not suit an individual’s style. So I think the best advice I could give is to do an in-depth research on the company before applying. Research about the culture, the graduate system, the career progressions and opportunities that are available and also not forgetting the wage. It is also crucial for international students to do this because not all companies are able to provide sponsorship for work visas. Instead of investing your time on companies that are unlikely to sponsor you, focus on the ones that can. This will greatly assist you in narrowing your job search and thus saves you time.

A good way to identify if a company suits you would be to head to career events. The university’s career and employability service organises a large range of career events and it is very beneficial to attend them in order to establish contacts within industry, discuss about current industry issues and also get a feel if the company suits you.

Last but not least, it is also vital to be up to date on current issues and challenges that the industry that you are interested in are currently facing. Topics such as current technology advances, politics and policies are a great way to spark a discussion with recruiters. This way, you are able to gauge if the company suits your interest and it also leaves a big impression on the recruiters as well.

What has surprised you most about working in the UK?

I think one thing that surprised me so far about working in the UK is the amount of training that they send you to. I guess a common misconception about working in general is that we graduates are expected to be thrown in to the fray and instantaneously start making a huge difference at work. However, it is actually very different. Instead, I have been attending loads of training in order to improve my competencies in the industry and then applying what I have learnt from the courses in my work. I feel that it is good because the courses build on the knowledge you have from university and you are able to apply that knowledge in a practical manner.

How do you think that your international work experience will enhance your career?

I feel that this international work experience will enhance my career because the industry that I am in is very niche. For example, I am currently in the rail industry and working in the industry gives me a great foundation to pursue other avenues in the future because most countries in the world have a rail system. Sure, the standards and procedures might be different but the concepts and working principles are still the same. Moreover, I believe working in the UK will give me a competitive edge to my peers because there is so much going on with the rail industry in the UK in the next 10 years and also, so many top companies have bases in the UK such as Siemens, Bombardier and Brush. Therefore, I believe working alongside these companies will give me the exposure and experience that will aid in my pursuit of success. Also, I believe working in the UK will gain me invaluable contacts that hopefully may help me in my projects or work in the future.

Read our ‘Working in the UK after completing your studies’ guide (pdf) to find out more about about applying for jobs in the UK after graduation.

Posted in CareersCultural integration