Why UK employers like postgraduate candidates with work experience – and how to get it
Employers in the UK make high demands of potential employees. Having a postgraduate qualification will show commmitment to your subject and to your personal development – particularly if you have shown passion for a career area through a conversion course or study of a speciialist area – but employers will also want to see that you can fit into the workplace and apply your skills and commitment to a working environment. That's where work experience can help.
Check your status
If you want to work in the UK either during your course or after graduation you will have to check your status. Different rules apply for foreign nationals from different countries. However, most students are allowed to work undertake:
- term-time employment up to a maximum of 20 hours a week
- vacation work (full-time hours)
- industrial placements as part of their course, a summer internship or part of an MBA
- work shadowing
- voluntary work.
Looking for jobs
A wide variety of jobs may be available in your area and don't be put off by quite menial work. UK employers will view any work experience in a positive light and it will give you an insight to another part of our culture that you might not otherwise have had. For part-time or vacation work of a general nature, check out the jobs board on your university website, look in local papers and newsagents and ask friends and any relatives who live in the UK. If you are seeking an internship or a course-related work placement, your tutors or the Careers Service will be able to offer advice. Check the websites of any of the organisations that offer work in your field for vacancies. Work-related experience can sometimes lead to full-time employment in the future so it is worth putting some effort into this.
The Careers Service will also be helpful when it comes to seeking full-time employment after graduation but you may find it works differently to your own country. They don't, for example, preselect students for specific job vacancies, nor do they forward CVs to employers. Instead they provide you with information and guidance and then it up to you to make applications or approaches if you wish.
Some of the best advice on making applications, writing covering letters, and preparing for interviews and psychometric tests can be found in your university's Career Service Guide. Careers advisers can also offer tips and hints on making applications look professional and even give you mock interviews.
Sources of help and advice
The Home Office: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working
Council for International Student Affairs: www.ukcisa.org.uk. Free telephone advice line 020 7107 9922, general line 020 7354 5210.