With a rise in unemployment rates, it is becoming increasingly difficult for international students to find jobs in the UK.
Furthermore, new post-study work visa regulations imposed by the British Border Agency restrict students from acquiring permanent employment.
However, it is not impossible for students to get paid or unpaid work experience while studying abroad, as illustrated by a few students from China.
“I’m pretty lucky as not many students are able to find a job or a placement in the UK,” said Monica, a Masters graduate in International Events and Conference Management.
VOLUNTEERING FOR SUCCESS
Conducting volunteer work is ideal for students who wish to gain exposure and insight into the working world.
After graduating with a Masters in Journalism, Layla Chen was accepted to join the 2012 London Olympics Press Operations team.
“Volunteering in the Olympics has been the highlight of my career so far. Other than getting first hand training as a journalist, I got to meet the Chinese Table Tennis champions!” said Layla, whose dream job is to be an international journalist.
For Monica, volunteering has been an integral part of her career path, through which she slowly began realising her dream to work in events management.
“I have been involved in the Tramlines Festival, Sheffield Documentary Festival, and I will be heading to London to volunteer for the Paralympics,” she said.
WORKING ON CAMPUS
Some universities offer job opportunities in various areas to help students gain experience whilst on campus.
A career-oriented student, Susan Song joined the International Career Enhancement (ICE) Club in SHU which enabled her to assist hundreds of international students like herself.
“As a student ambassador, I help mainly Chinese students who may be facing problems. Some feel more comfortable speaking to me in Mandarin, and I can relate to them easily,” said Susan, a 26-year-old student from Jiangxi.
The job allows Susan to gain experience while improving her English communication skills, which are crucial for the competitive job industry.
International students should not be discouraged if they hit a dead end as opportunities will always come knocking by.
“I believe that international students have an advantage as we speak at least 2 languages, and companies often need people to deal with international customers,” said Layla.
Monica advised: “Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your employable skills, be it through attending workshops, volunteering or taking up part time jobs, and you will have a bright future ahead.”
– Story and Photo by Mabel Yan