Resources to find a job in the UK as an international student

Hello everyone! I’m Perla from Mexico and I’m currently finishing my masters in Advertising and Marketing at the Leeds University Business School. I have loved my time in Leeds, and I’m so happy I made the decision to come, because I truly believed it changed my life and provided me with great opportunities. One of these has been able to land a job in the UK, which I’m really excited about. I know there are lots of international students that, just like me, wish to stay in the UK to work upon completion of their studies, so I will provide some tips that I consider helpful to achieve this.

In this blog, I want to share with you how I landed a job in the UK as an international student and which resources (provided by the university or external) were helpful for this. Since this is probably my last blog as a Link to Leeds Ambassador, I will also share some photos of my time as a masters student so you can have a better idea of my experience at the University of Leeds. As I said, I’m happy to have found a job and a company that believes in me. My role will be within a digital marketing agency that focuses on influencer marketing. As a Campaign Executive for Fashion and Lifestyle, I will be responsible for proposing appropriate content and influencers for each campaign, and monitoring the campaigns’ performance to make sure the set KPIs are met.

First of all, I would like to highlight that I moved to the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic, so my experience while looking for a job was slightly different from the one you would have in “normal” times. Having considered this, I would also like to share that the University provides both online and offline resources for job hunting, so this change did not stop me from receiving support. Another point to keep in mind is that I am eligible to apply for the Graduate Route Visa, which allows international students to stay for 2 (for undergraduate and masters students) or 3 years (for PhD students) in the UK to work or volunteer upon graduation. If you want more information about the Graduate Route Visa, make sure you check out the blog I wrote about it. 

Now let’s get into the job hunting resources and tips…

  • Personal and Professional tutor: The university cares deeply about students, both academically and personally. This is why we are assigned a personal tutor, someone who you can speak to in case you have any trouble. Regarding job hunting, my personal tutor gave me some tips to look for jobs in the UK and made sure I knew about all the resources the university offers for students to be able to find a job in the UK, or even abroad. I would suggest telling your personal tutor about your wish to stay in the UK to work. It is likely that if they know about any opportunities for which you are suitable, they will let you know so you can apply. 
  • Professional tutor: All the courses at the University of Leeds have employability skills embedded to make sure students are prepared to start or continue their professional careers and unlock their potential. In my case, my course had a whole module dedicated to professional skills, career planning, and recruitment processes. The lecturer was our professional tutor, so she was able to provide tips and feedback on specific job applications we were doing, which was very helpful. 

  • Mentorship programmes: The Marketing division at the University of Leeds Business School has the Marketing Connections mentorship programme, which I consider one of the most valuable resources that I had access to. In this programme, marketing alumni sign up to provide advice to current students. In my case, I was matched with an alumni from Lebanon who currently works in London and is a Marketing Director. We had around 5 meetings over Zoom and we talked basically about everything, from where I wanted to live and work to my CV and applications. We also talked about my mentor’s journey to land a job in the UK and her professional experience, which made me realize what to expect for me and made me feel less scared about the future. She also was kind enough to share some recruitment agency contacts. I highly recommend asking your tutor if your course or school has any mentorship programmes to sign up for. The mentors were in the same position as you and understand your doubts and worries, so it is a great advantage to be able to meet them. 

  • Career Centre: The Career Centre was also a helpful resource to find a job in the UK. During my time as a student, they organized online Career Fairs, where we could talk to recruiters from diverse companies, and the Graduate Visa Week, which was an event where they explained everything about this new visa route and how to apply for it. Through the Career Centre, you can also schedule a meeting with a Career Advisor, someone who can help you to improve your cover letter or a job application.
  • LinkedIn: This platform was the one I used the most to apply for jobs, and where I saw the job posting for the job I actually got hired for! I recommend you to update and complete your profile as much as possible. During your time as a student, you can post about any events or activities in which you are involved, for example, I posted about the Debate Club and about competitions I participated in. Regarding job applications through LinkedIn, I applied to a lot of jobs and I didn’t get a reply back in most of them. Even though it would be nice to get feedback from every job you applied for, do not panic if this is not the case. I also recommend you to apply only to the ones you are really interested in, this will save you time in applications and will improve their quality. 
  • Recruitment processes: In my experience, recruitment processes in the UK will most likely include a series of interviews and a practical exercise or timed task. In my case, the job I landed included 3 interviews: the first one with Human Resources, the second one with my boss, and the third one with the head of the department I will be working in. Additionally, I had to do a task that lasted 2 hours, which allowed the company to see how I worked under pressure. The whole recruitment process took around 3 days, but I would say it is more likely that it will take a longer time to be completed. For Graduate Schemes, for example, they could take up to a year. I would say that if you have waited for longer, you should continue applying for other jobs to make the most of your time.

Even if this is something everyone will tell you, try not to panic and make sure you cherish your time as a student. Remember that once you get a job, your priorities and schedule will change, so make sure to enjoy every step of the way! I hope my tips and the resources I listed are helpful for your job hunting journey. Please get in touch if you have any questions, I’m happy to help!