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International Students - A Guide to the UK Job Market

Jobs For International Students
The UK is often a popular destination for international university students, and for good reason. The UK has some of the best universities across Europe and globally, making it an attractive choice for students wanting to take the next step in education, across Business, Science, Arts and other degree courses.

But what are some of the important things you need to know as an international student studying at university, especially when it comes to navigating the UK job market during and after university?

Key points:
  • Can only work maximum of 20 hours per week on a Student visa
  • Internships must only be done during official university holidays (if on a Student visa)
  • A Graduate visa can allow you to work for up to 2 years after you graduate
  • Some employers may be open to visa sponsorship, helping cover your costs of obtaining a visa
  • There are a range of other visas you can apply for once you finish university and depending on the industry you want to work in
Visa requirements
One of the most important elements of being an international student is understanding the type of visa you hold.

Student Visa - during study
If you are studying here in the UK, chances are you have applied for a Student visa to be able to study and work here.

For international students studying towards a full time degree on a Student visa, you will be eligible to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week, during term time. This means whether you are looking for work to earn money on the side, or to gain experience, you will only be able to work part time. This applies to paid and unpaid work.

When it comes to Internships or Placements, you will be able to partake in these during official university holidays (non-term time) - this applies whether you are an Undergraduate or Postgraduate student.

The information above is strictly a brief summary of the Visa requirements. For official guidance please refer to the UK Government/Home Office website or your university.

Student Visa - after study/gradation
Once you have graduated, the Home Office states that you are able to work full time for a set period of time, so long as your visa is still valid.

Graduate Visa
So you’ve graduated or are approaching graduation - what are your options?

You are able to extend your stay in the UK by applying for a Graduate visa which will allow you to work for 2 years, or if you now hold a PhD (or other doctoral qualification) will be up to 3 years. You will have to make any employer aware of this, but with many graduate schemes being 2 years long, it opens many opportunities for you to gain valuable experience and kick start your career.

Visa sponsorship
Visa’s cost money (see full fees here), but some employers are happy to pay for your visa fee. This is known as visa sponsorship. Some employers will advertise visa sponsorship on their roles, which presents you with a great opportunity to save on paying the fees.

Other visas
Apart from Student and Graduate visas, there are a range of visas you are able to apply for to work here in the UK. Whether it’s a Skilled Worker, Start-Up or a Temporary Work visa, the UK Government website is the best destination to discover the requirements for each visa you may wish to apply for.

Navigating the UK Job Market
Depending on your current degree level, different opportunities will be available for you, which we shall outline further down.

And whilst London is a popular destination for many internships and graduate schemes, there are still plenty of opportunities on offer across the UK.

Part time jobs
As previously covered, as an International Student on a Student visa, you will only be permitted to work up to 20 hours per week.

However, that is not a problem at all.

Many part time jobs will be well suited to you as many employers are looking for students to work part time under 20 hours anyway. In terms of popular jobs for International Students, retail and hospitality are two popular destinations. Both jobs offer great flexibility and with so many jobs in cities across the UK available, it increases your chances of securing a great job.

Find which employers are hiring for part time jobs in your city here .

Internships and Placements
Internships are popular all throughout the world, and that is the same for here in the UK. Internships and Placements are a great way to gain experience during your degree, and to get you in the best position to secure a top job after you graduate.

As an International Student on a Student visa, you’ll only be allowed to work over 20 hours a week during official university vacation periods, so this makes Summer Internships a suitable option.

Summer Internships can be as short as 4 weeks, or up to 12 weeks (depending on the employer)

If you need to prove to an employer that you are in an official vacation period, then usually showing your calendar/timetable alongside the university term dates (usually found on the university website) will be useful.

Check out our Summer Internships here .

Graduate schemes
If you’ve finished your undergraduate or postgraduate degree and are now on a Graduate visa, then a graduate scheme is a great way to start your career and start gaining valuable experience.

As many schemes are 2 years long, the same length as a Graduate visa, then this may be ideally suited to you.

Graduate schemes are available all over the UK and for all types of degrees you may hold. So whether you have a degree in Finance, Business, Engineering, Law or anything else, here at E4S we have a great range of graduate schemes available.

One great thing to consider, is that with many top employers also having overseas locations, then you could complete a graduate scheme over here in the UK, before heading to another office elsewhere in the world - once you’ve got your foot in the door, the world is your oyster.

See what Graduate Jobs are available here. .

Postgraduate employers
As a postgraduate student looking for work experience, particularly an internship, is a great way to get your foot in the door once you finish education.

In contrast to regular undergraduate internships, postgraduate internships are aimed at furthering your advanced skills and knowledge gained from your Masters or PhD programme. There are a range of postgraduate internships on offer here in the UK open to International Students on a postgraduate course.

We have a whole page dedicated to Postgraduate Internships available here , which includes some employers to consider.

Good to know - Schemes offered by universities
Depending on your university and the services available, there may be an opportunity for you to do a work experience scheme, such as an internship, through your university.

Some universities will offer an International Students Internship Scheme - an internship typically funded by the university and aims at helping international students gain valuable work experience during the summer vacation period. Be sure to contact your university career service to enquire about schemes available, and make the most of the universities’ resources.

How to stand out in an application process
Create a top CV
Creating a stand out application starts with a top CV, and we have a wide range of CV advice on our website, such as this page. But if we had to give one piece of advice, it is always to keep your CV at 2 pages maximum - but push for just 1 if you can. Our next point is to leverage your experience, but be sure that you are able to keep a recruiter engaged and interested when they read your CV. Having a CV that is too many pages long often deters recruiters from learning everything they need to know about you.

Leverage your experience
Many of the International Students we speak to at Careers Fairs have a wide range of experience from back in their home countries - if this is you, be sure to shout about it in your CV!

Language skills
Whether you know two languages, or five, just knowing another language puts you at a huge benefit compared to other candidates. Many businesses see this as a huge strength, especially if they have offices in the countries you speak the language of.

One great tip is if you’re looking for a graduate job, do some research on recruiters who have multiple offices/headquarters across the globe. If there is one in the UK and another country that you happen to know speak the language of, you could be a stand out applicant as your communication skills may be much better than those who only speak one language.

For example, if you speak German and English, then a job at a top German car manufacturer may open opportunities for you to work in their UK office and other countries. Knowing the two languages can make communication in each location and across offices much easier.

Find a mentor
If you’re ever stuck with how to navigate the UK job market, then try finding a mentor. By mentor, we mean anyone who can help be your guide. A friend, tutor, professor or even your university Careers Service. Speaking with someone about any of the questions you have is a great way to ensure you are able to get a top application submitted and secure a job after university.

Be prepared
Whether it’s having a CV ready, or best positioning yourself for when jobs go live, being prepared will make a huge difference in landing a top job.

Registering on E4S will allow you to set up job alerts - meaning we can notify you as soon as a relevant job is posted to our site. Whether you want to know when a Part Time job in London becomes available in the summer when you can work longer hours, or when a Graduate Engineering job is now accepting applications, E4S can do it all.

Register now to let employers find you and be notified about the latest relevant jobs