If you think uni is hard, I’m sorry to tell you that the time after your graduation is no walk in the park either.
Especially as an international student, finding a job can be difficult. You might have improved your language skills and adjust to the new culture, but you don’t have the advantage of moving back to your parent’s place while applying for jobs. This means, you have to find a job before your money runs out – no pressure.
Here are a few things I wish I had known before starting a career after my international studies:
Competition doesn’t sleep and neither should you. It’s easy to push things to tomorrow, but the sooner you start applying for jobs, the better. Some students start applying for jobs as early as February or even sooner than that. Don’t miss a chance on a job because you’re at the bottom of the CV pile. If you want to have a job after your graduation, a good time to start applying is around April. That’s the time companies are filling positions for summer.
The most important thing is that you apply for jobs. Don’t overdo it with the amount of applications you write. It’s about quality, not quantity. You can start to send one application per week. It helps you get used to the process.
Employers are looking to hire a person that shows determination and skills. If, for example, you studied a creative subject, and your portfolio only exists of uni projects, you got some work to do! Companies don’t hire people who do the bare minimum. Do some extra projects and show them what you’re made of.
IMPROVE YOUR CV
OK, now, with “improve,” I’m not talking about removing all spelling mistakes and making it look good–that should be a given. I’m talking about actually doing some work experience that will make your CV stand out.
One of the things you can do is voluntary work at your university. Or, you can create or join a society at your students union to improve your language and social skills.
The local city council might have some paid work for you, like translation jobs, which also allows you to earn some money on the side.
ASK FOR HELP
People don’t tend to help you unless you ask for it. Ask your friends or lecturers if they have connections to the companies you’re interested in. If they know someone, ask them to introduce you. And if they can’t provide you with the right connections, you can always ask them to leave a nice comment on your LinkedIn profile.
If your friends or lecturers can’t help you out, go to your university’s career advice center. They help you by checking your CV for spelling mistakes and relevance.
Also remember to maintain the relationships you have with your uni friends and lecturers. You never know where they will end up in the future and if they can help you then. And also, always return the favor if someone else has helped you out. Invite them for a coffee, or, if they got you the connections to a dream job, take them out for dinner.
CHECK THE LEGAL STUFF
When you’re new to a country, things will work differently than at home. Many times, you have to get thing sorted before you can begin a new job.
For example, I didn’t know that you need a national insurance number to work in the UK. I just assumed as a EU citizen, I could start to work straight away. It wasn’t difficult to get my NINO, but if I had known that I needed it, I would have applied for one before I went to an interview. It shows your employer that you’re ready to start ASAP.
There are a lot of websites that can help you out with these things. Start by looking at the government websites from the country you’re looking to stay in.
SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T JUST SOCIAL ANYMORE
In modern day times, you can be sure that employers will google you. It can be quite easy to find you on all kinds of social media. Make sure that the embarrassing party pics on Facebook are hidden from public, so that your future employer can’t see it.
Keep your LinkedIn account up to date. Tweet about things related to the career you’re aiming for. If you want to start a career in finance, show that you’re up to date with all the things that impact the market. If you’re trying to get into advertising, post some creative work.
DREAM BIG, BUT START SMALL
I’ve seen loads of my friends apply for their dream jobs straight out of uni. They apply for the big companies, which must get thousands of applications every day.
I’m not saying that these friends wouldn’t be able to do the jobs they applied for, but big companies tend to hire people with more experience, in comparison to smaller companies which don’t have as many applicants to choose from.
Once you have some work experience at these companies, it will be much easier for you to step up a ladder and get a job in one of the companies you really like.
ONE LAST THING
Never think a job will just come to you.. unless you’re someone’s famous kid, maybe.