As an international student in the UK, it is not unusual to feel that
.... Use your University Careers Service!
professional space is quite different from your home country. The recruitment process is, in some cases, far more elaborate and specific than it is back home. This is in addition to the cultural differences in the workplaces that one might come across, and feel intimidated with.
But the good news is, almost all universities in the UK have a separate department dealing exclusively with this. They often go by the name of Careers Hub, or Careers Services or Careers and Placements Cell (or something similar).
Their services are usually available exclusively to the registered students, and they cater to any career-related queries and doubts you might have. Many students underestimate how crucial their role is, but if you are serious about your professional pursuits, you end up consulting them on more than one occasion.
Here are a few of the services that they provide:
The Careers services usually have appointment-based and drop-in facilities for you to be able to chat with one of the advisors about any career-related aspect: beginning from what all options and avenues are open for you, to prepare for interviews, and getting feedback on applications and cover letters. Some Universities also have a business advice clinic where you can get advice on self-employment and entrepreneurship avenues, including workshops where you learn all about business startup, business planning, market research, financial planning, IP & legal structures, and pitching.
Careers Services often provide you with sample CVs and resumes and templates and help you understand how to customise it for various purposes: part-time jobs, fellowships, academic consideration. If you request, they’d even be happy to look at and provide you feedback on your LinkedIn profile. They follow a very research-proven methodology in their suggestions too: the placements in the CV and the chronology to follow - nothing beats their expert advice.
The career advisors also help you tackle tricky interview/application questions. Not only can they provide you with an authentic insight into what the questions are trying to elicit they will also provide you with effective angles and sample responses. Chances are they will teach you to answer questions using the STAR technique too.
Internship and Work Experience Opportunities
Most careers service departments also post internship, work experience, fellowships, and full-time job opportunities on their portal. Since these are often exclusively available to the students of that particular university, these are a great resource for you to access! As a student, you can log in to the portal and access opportunities from employers seeking students and alumni, including graduate jobs and internships. These are advertised in thousands over the year.
Kirsty Kilgour, one of the Internship Hub Managers at the University of Glasgow explains that the Internship Hub at the University “actively sources exclusive internship opportunities by developing relationships with (primarily local) businesses and organisations. The ethos behind the programme is to create opportunities that are both a valuable development opportunity for the student, and of value to the organisation by addressing resource or skills gaps, or by supporting their graduate talent acquisition. Each individual opportunity is advertised as openly as possible, with the Internship Hub facilitating a competitive recruitment process each time. Students are fully supported through the process and signposted to other parts of the Careers Service where relevant.”
She adds that one of the key strengths of these portals is their exclusivity. “The roles advertised are only open to University of Glasgow students, which means that students are encouraged to engage and apply. Students also rate knowing that the Internship Hub has thoroughly vetted the opportunities so that they can be sure they are worthwhile and genuine”, Kilgour told Student Circus.
Mock interviews and Tests
This cannot be stressed enough. The first time I booked a mock interview with the Careers services at my University and bagged the job, later on, was when I realised how absolutely crucial the practice and the advice of the advisor was. All the tips and tricks and hacks needed to be prepared for the interviews and tests are at your disposal through such an exercise. They also provide you with mock assessment centres and other tests.
Talks and events
The Careers Services often conduct talks and events that connect you to people from the industry. The most common event is the Careers Fair where a large number of employers visit the campus offering graduate jobs and internships. In addition, they also have mini-fairs that focus on employers and jobs within a particular sector so engineering students may have a plethora of companies looking for them, business school may have another and so on. Other events include employer presentations, alumni chats, workshops.
If the careers hub in your University is proactive, they might even be on to something like podcasts, a mentor network for alumni, or something else out-of-the-box.