August 5, 2022, by NUBS Postgraduate Careers
How I gained UK work experience and brought my skills to a UK charity.
Chuwei is from China and currently studying an MSc in Risk Management at Nottingham University Business School, UK. He shares with us the support he received from the NUBS Postgraduate Careers Team when trying to secure work in the UK and what he gained from the work experience. See his story below:
*What company and job role did you apply for?
I applied to a Postgraduate Placement Nottingham vacancy for a part time job as an Impact Report Co-ordinator within a UK-based charity. The job was to be completed alongside my full-time studies. The organisation was called When You Wish Upon a Star. As an international student, I wanted to experience the UK working environment and culture. At the same time, it was inevitable that I would have to communicate with my colleagues and leaders in the workplace, which not only practiced my professional English language skills, but also strengthened my communication skills with colleagues at all levels. What attracted me to this charity was that it aims to fulfil the wishes of children with terminal illnesses, which is a very worthwhile cause. I could see that the role would allow me to apply the analytical skills I learnt in the classroom to the real world and use those skills to support the company and contribute to the achievement of its goals.
*Tell us more about your part-time job?
I worked as an Impact Report Co-Ordinator, and as the name suggests I was asked to produce a report through extracting useful data to be used in future planning. My work project was divided into two specific parts, designing a satisfaction survey and analysing the results of the survey. In the first stage, I designed the survey with the objectives of the project in mind, using a market analysis model to analyse in-depth the strengths and weaknesses of the charity and the market environment and to summarise the data and content we needed to collect. In the second stage, I coded all the data collected and then analysed it using qualitative methods and quantitative models to summarise what the company had done well up to that point and what needed to be improved, culminating in a final report.
*How did you prepare for the interview?
I was very nervous when I received the invitation to interview as it was my first interview in English. Luckily, the Careers team held weekly drop-in sessions in Nottingham University Business School, which made it very easy for me to find the help I needed quickly. During the drop-in session the Careers Consultant looked at the job advert and quickly analysed the types of questions I was likely to be asked in the interview. She then helped me to think about my own examples and experiences to answer these questions, which greatly increased my confidence in this. To make the interview even better, my Careers Consultant offered to book a longer one-to-one interview practice and feedback session a few days later. This helped me to work on putting together the examples of my skills and experience and then gave me a chance to try out my interview skills and gain feedback on the validity of my examples. In preparation, my Careers Consultant also reminded me that I could use the STAR framework to structure my answers, which I had learnt during a career development workshop during the previous week. This really helped me to structure the answer to the communication skills questions in the interview. My Careers Consultant gave me invaluable feedback, advised me on how I could improve on my performance and identified the areas I’d performed well in during the interview practice. This all helped to increase my confidence. In the end, I passed the interview with flying colours and was offered the job.
*What questions did you get asked at the interview
In line with my Careers Consultant’s advice, the questions I was asked were based on the skills required, which were all outlined in the job advert and recruitment details. For example:
Can you demonstrate your data analysis skills?
Please provide an example of when you demonstrated your communication skills?
Do you have any previous experience in survey design and creation?
What do you think would be the biggest challenge for you in this job?
*How did the Careers team help you
Through the Accelerated Career Leader Programme during the semester, I learnt a great deal about CV writing methods and formats I also learned the STAR framework for answering skill-based questions in interviews, which greatly helped me prepare for interviews. During the one-to-one interview practice with a Careers Consultant, she listened carefully to each of my prepared answers and suggested changes where she felt they were not appropriate, or clear, which made my answers sound more professional. For international students, they also corrected a lot of my English grammar mistakes, and I can say that I could not have succeeded in my interview without their help. The careers team also provided me with graduate job application support, giving me detailed advice on how to plan my graduation application schedule. I was also introduced to an international student-friendly graduate job board called Student Circus (which the University subscribes to and is free for students to use). The Careers team provided special online practice employer test resources called Graduates First which was useful when applying for large companies that ask graduates to undertake online tests as part of their recruitment. (NB: ACLP is a career development programme which forms part of the career support offered to Nottingham University Business School, MSc students).
*What advice would you give students who have an interview coming up?
The University’s Postgraduate Placement Nottingham scheme allows current postgraduates to undertake part time work with businesses and allows students to utilise their skills in a real working environment. The work is paid and fits in flexibly around your studies. Ask for help from the NUBS Postgraduate Careers team, they have so many resources that can help you. Put your best foot forward from your interview practice and trust the career team to give you the most professional feedback.