International Alumni Panel - Staying in the UK After Your Studies (11/11/22): Video Transcript

Title: International Alumni Panel - Staying in the UK After Your Studies (11/11/22)
Duration: 59:32

Kate: Okay so hello and welcome to all of the students and the graduates that are joining us on the call today. Thank you for giving up your time to be here and thank you so much to our panellists for giving up their precious time to be here as well. And so this session is focused around our international alumni who are going to be sharing their insights their experiences about staying in the UK and sharing some some top tips which will hopefully help you to form your decisions once you've finished your degree. So we have four alumni panellists today and in just a second I'm going to give them a chance to introduce themselves properly, but we do want this session to be informal and we want it to be as informative as possible so please do add your questions to the Q&A box on your screens as we go through the session and we will try and either address them as we go through this session or we'll address them at the end. We've got plenty of time for questions so please do ask your questions, I really want you to do that. So without further ado then I'm gonna hand it over to our panellists who are going to just take a couple of minutes to introduce themselves, their roles, their companies, and their career journey and since they they graduated. So Chloe you're first on my screen, would you like to go first?

Chloe: Yeah okay. Thank you for having me today Kate thank you. So hi everyone I'm Chloe and I recently graduated with a master's degree in Money, Banking & Finance. So right now I've been working for Amazon in Manchester for a couple of weeks now - it has been a great experience. So basically I started my job hunting a long time ago. I started doing like the research around July last year and that was before I started to study in Birmingham and so because I know that I will be very busy when the first semester begins so it's always the earlier the better. So I remember the entire job hunting process was very frustrating and it felt like a full-time job already. I started with the Big Four consultancy and I got no luck, and I didn't even pass their online test actually, because I just get started and I was just trying things out without really any actual experience, and there were a lot of rejection of course, but I just got more experience every time after I apply for everything I finished their exams and assessments and finally I just received an interview invitation from Amazon and I succeeded in one go. But it's actually very interesting because several days before that I actually had a mock interview with Tom who is also from the career service and I also did the interview for the volunteer role of Birmingham Commonwealth Games, so I definitely give credit to all of that because it definitely helped me to understand what a real interview would feel like. So I would truly believe that I couldn't really pass that interview if I didn't have all of that practice beforehand and so I think I will just try to share some experience that I had before and give you some little advice. So at first I tried to find some virtual internship online last year and there are so much information available online and all you have to do is just Google and use LinkedIn, and Glassdoor can also be helpful as well. It's very important that you don't just focus on the big names like the big consultancy companies or the board bracket investment banks or any other companies like that because they would be really hard to get into and also you may have a bigger chance if you get to know more smaller company so that you can actually just try to apply for internship at some less popular company and even some medium-sized company that's fine because you just have more options and they are less picky. And more importantly they don't really require so much effort up front, so that you can just save more energy, save more time, and you have more time to find even more opportunities. And also there are some training programs online that you can find and they're really easy to get access to, for example in my case I found some virtual internship programs on Bright Network and they invited some senior employees who work for big companies. The entire thing was just like two weeks and they can't even be counted as working experience or internship, but this kind of event can always give you more exposure and you can just have a better understanding about how do they do their business and how do they feel like to work there. So I'm not saying that this kind of experience can guarantee you anything but it's always important to get enough exposure and to have more diverse experience. So just make sure you're not just focusing on study every day. And it's also important that secondly another point I want to cover just try more volunteer jobs, because they can be so helpful to your personal growth and they can also look good on your CV. So I volunteered for NHS before to help with their vaccination process and I was also volunteering for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, I mentioned that before, and in this kind of activity you don't actually need to do anything so complicated because it's volunteer jobs, so there will be absolutely no pressure at all. And by doing this kind of interesting volunteer job I really just got more exposure and it's an important way for me to understand the culture in the UK and to fit into this society. And these opportunities can actually be found online and you can just always apply and be proactive. And also of course I applied to become a Student Rep in the Business School and that's definitely one of the most important experiences for me in Birmingham. And by taking part in these kind of activities I just get to know more people around me and they can really just build up my confidence and my awareness so much. So I would say this kind of soft skill can definitely be improved. And additionally there's a specific suggestion I have is that - just try to only focus on a few companies at a time, and try not to make a bunch of applications at the same time, because if you don't prepare for the application very well then you just won't make it, it's true, and every time you click that submission button they will just send you an email and tell you to finish some assessments or online interview or test like straight away. So you really just have this tight deadline and it gets to really make you nervous and you just get stressed. And the worst part is that - take the consultancy company as an example - if you failed an application and you will just have to wait for a long time to apply again, typically maybe six months or even a year. So that's very important to not just apply, unless you have already done your research and just be ready. And finally another thing I would say is that I hope you can just find a place that truly suits you. I know that you may feel like being pushed to make some like relevant, like popular choices like the investment banks but maybe it's not actually the place you can utilise your strengths and maybe it just doesn't suit you. And when you do find a specific target that suits you, that's good for you, just find everything to become so much more easier. So and in my case personally I never truly liked the work of consultancy and accounting. I would still be grateful if I end up working there of course but that's not actually something I can truly enjoy. I just don't like them and I don't like staring at Excel all day long although that's how our work looks like nowadays. But I just I don't want that to be only thing I care about, and I was definitely terrified of ACCA and I never wanted to do that. But that didn't really stop me from finding the job in the business industry and it's really fortunate that I ended up in Amazon. So what I want to say is don't lose your confidence just because you are not good at everything, because sometimes you only need to find out one or two things that you're good at and don't feel too bad if you receive too many rejections - that just happens all the time it's normal - so because maybe all you need is just one good offer that's all you need, and that's exactly what happened to me actually. So yep that's everything and before I finish I just want to give you a little reminder that please do prioritise your academic performance because you can always apply for jobs but you only have this amount of time to study. And the master's degree, or bachelor as well, is also very intense so if you fail an exam it's gonna take you a lot of time to make up for it. So I'm sure you know so I'm sure you all know that most companies do require at least 60 percent of your total marks, so yeah just be careful with that. Thank you.

Kate: Thank you Chloe and some really good advice there and I think we will probably get stuck into some of that in a bit more detail through the question and answer sessions. Irina you're next on my screen would you like to introduce yourself?

Irina: Yeah so hi I'm Irina. I recently did a masters in international business and before that I did a degree in business management with marketing and a Year In Industry. So you can tell I have a lot of experience with applying for jobs because I did that within my Year In Industry as well. I'm currently working as a marketing assistant for a company that's called Gleeson Recruitment Group. We're a recruitment agency that recruits all over West Midlands and in a lot of areas of business so marketing, HR, finance, and whatever you can think of. So I think my journey with applying jobs obviously started in my second year when I was applying for my Year In Industry placement. I applied for so many companies, and as Chloe said, you shouldn't do that, I wouldn't advise doing that because you don't have time to focus on your academic performance and on, you know, going ahead with different psychometric testing or with assessment centres or with anything like that. I ended up having a Year In Industry with Yale which is a security an alarm company - you've probably seen in Selly Oak if you live around there, or anywhere you go in the UK you're probably seeing like a Yale lock or a Yale alarm on a house. My experience there was sort of in the marketing area, but it was actually e-commerce marketing. So I was working on the platform Amazon, and I was doing different listings there. And in my current job I think I like it because I really wanted to get started within marketing and you have to be really careful of job titles because even though there's lots of graduate schemes out there you can also start by, you know, you can start with the role such as Marketing Assistant or anything as when Kate can ask about them yeah that's about it for me now.

Kate: Thank you very much Irina. Nina you're next on my screen would you like to go next?

Nina: Yeah sure, so hi everyone my name is Nina I currently work as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. I graduated from the University of Birmingham back in 2018 and I did my degree in Psychology. So when I first graduated I joined the graduate program with PwC as a technology data and analytics associate and I was there for almost two years before I joined Microsoft finally last year. I initially joined as a cloud solution architect earlier this year I moved into engineering as a software engineer so yeah it's been a very interesting journey and yeah I guess I'll wait for the other bit to be asked about the details about how I got here.

Kate: Thank you Nina, thanks very much. And Lucius, finally, would you like to introduce yourself?

Lucius: Yes definitely think it's always a pleasure to be here. Hi everyone, my name is Lucius, I'm also a fellow psychology student from University of Birmingham - I graduated in 2017. Gosh it feels a long time ago! And then I went onto a master's degree before I actually joined NatWest. Right now I'm a Strategy Innovation Manager in NatWest group. Probably you would recognise it from some of the brands that we have like RBS, NatWest depending on your location in the Kingdom. But yeah I'm really enjoying what I'm doing right now. So my team - excuse me, yes bad day for me, sorry, excuse me. So yeah my team looks after building all the innovative data science and machine learning models for the bank. So we're pretty much like an internal consultancy helping different businesses within the banks to tackle their business problem using data. So yeah that's pretty much what the team does. And a little bit about my journeys then, because I wasn't sure about the format of the session just yet sorry about that, but yeah I after I graduated like I mentioned I joined the group as a technology graduate as part of the graduate scheme. So I rotated several times within the NatWest group doing rows, started very techy like into a Master Solution Architect and strategy analyst role before actually switching on to a more kind of AI kind of things, like I joined an AI chatbot team, and then I joined my current team in data science. So I guess probably I always got the questions of why you study psychology and ended up in technology, but I think I always think like my kind of love for artificial intelligence that AI has always been one of the biggest drivers for my career decisions so far. So yeah I think I'm enjoying the journey, and definitely a lot to share more about like applying roles and everything, and yeah take all the questions I can today, thank you.

Kate: Thank you so much Lucius and what's really interesting is that yourself and Nina are both from a psychology background and potentially in roles that maybe students wouldn't consider you can go into with a psychology degree, so that's really interesting. I think maybe if I start with some questions, and then if the students could drop some questions into the Q&A then that would be really useful as well, to make sure we're covering everything that you want to know. So I guess the first question that maybe we could talk about in a little bit more detail is how did you actually secure your job in the UK? So what sort of process did you go through, when did you actually start looking for jobs, and when did you secure that? Chloe shall we start with yourself and your role at Amazon, how did you secure that job?

Chloe: Yeah. Actually I think the important thing you have to do is just keep collecting information, like whenever there's something going on you have to know, like whatever by just Googling or just browsing LinkedIn or anything. Anything would really help, and like how did I secure my job? So like I said before you really have to do your research and actually but maybe sometimes not that's not always the case because in the case of Amazon I can really only find like a few typical interview questions, like the really typical one, the one you always have to do in any kind of interview and I can't find any information about their case study or anything like that. But that's not end of the story because although you maybe can't find every single information you want, you can still keep gathering more information - for example I actually went to YouTube before like I went to YouTube, I just Googled, and I went to LinkedIn and all kind of social media I can find to just search for Amazon job hunting graduate role. And I really just went through a lot of videos that tell you how to pass the Amazon interview. I wouldn't say they're 100% very helpful, but that's just one of the ways you should do it, and for me in my case I when I was preparing my interview I actually did that for maybe three weeks. So like that was like from the day that I received the interview invitation to the date that I actually had an interview. That was like three weeks. So actually preparing for the interview was just everything I did in that two weeks and my course haven't really started yet, and it started like in the last week but yeah that's the only thing I focused on - just preparing my interview. And I used to write this kind of Word document like maybe six or seven pages long just prepare every single question that they might have for me. And like how should I prepare for the case study if they have this kind of question. Yeah so I really just enough preparation for the interview and yeah because just like I said before, I believe sometimes only it's just one success and once you're done you're done forever, like, you're done for good and you don't have to think about anything else. So yeah just prioritise.

Kate: Thank you, thank you Chloe. Irina how did you secure your role at Gleeson, because you obviously graduated this year, and were they a company that you were aware of? Or how did you come about finding out about them a bit more?

Irina: Yeah so I started as Chloe said very early in the year. I think I started about August looking for different companies looking at where I would like to apply and I started obviously with the bigger companies because they are the ones that are opening their graduate schemes earlier on in the year. Of course there are some who are opening later, but you know I wanted to have a head start and be ready for whatever would come my way. So I've applied to a couple of companies I think Amazon was actually one of them. I had an interview - I didn't succeed but that didn't really put me off because I had a lot of experience with rejection from my previous job search when I was doing the year in industry, and you really gotta brace yourself with this rejection and don't let it put you off, because you can always get back and just take that feedback and use it in your next interview. About Gleeson, I wasn't aware of the company and I think probably not many people would be just because recruitment wasn't really something I was looking into. But I saw the job and it seemed really nice and I got my first interview and I went there and I was so amazed at how you the people were, how the culture was. We get a lot of different perks and that really, really attracted me. My interview process wasn't difficult, because it's a smaller company they don't have all the psychometric testing or assessment centres that bigger companies would have. So for some of you, if you think you're a more personable person and you don't really want to go through all of that you could go for a smaller company. I would encourage you to do so because sometimes psychometric tests you can obviously get very nervous about them and you wouldn't necessarily get the result that they want even though you might fit in the culture and yeah for me that was it. I went in for the interviews I had a couple of interviews with the manager, with my recruiter, and with one of the founders of the company. And then from there it was like a presentation that I had to do just to see that I've got, you know, the necessary skills for the job and that was about it.

Kate: Thanks Irina, that's a really important point that you made there about how early you started looking for jobs, which might come as a bit of a surprise maybe to some international students on the call, but you know a lot of the bigger companies do tend to advertise their roles a year in advance of actually recruiting graduates. And Nina what was your experience of applying to PwC, did you have to apply early? And then how did that differ to then when you moved to to Microsoft?

Nina: To be honest I was like super late to the party because I think before my final year of uni I was just like really not thinking about job or career or whatnot. And it wasn't until like late October and early November in my final year of uni I was like, 'actually I don't want to do this studying thing anymore I wanna you know go find a job'. So yeah so to be completely honest I didn't even know PwC existed. I was never into that sort of business finance type of stuff but it was ranked really high, I think it was number one at the time in The Times graduate employer ranking or whatnot, so I was like okay this must be a good company. So now questionable, but at the time that's literally my thought process I was like okay I'm gonna go down this list to apply for all of the companies and at the time I was like quite interested in technology, so I was like yeah maybe this is a good sort of career path to go down. So yeah so I just went down the the league table and applied to any company that would sponsor me a visa because that was like the sort of deciding factor really for me when I was choosing companies. So yeah and at the end got offered my first choice which at the time was PwC, because I guess I didn't know better at the time. So yeah and I ended up joining PwC and yeah and then when I moved to Microsoft it's because I wasn't really enjoying the work that I was doing at PwC and also I realised that I was quite I guess ignorant around sort of salary and this sort of stuff - not that I work only for salary but I realised that people at PwC are being severely criminally underpaid, same as other Big Four, by no means to bash them but it's just how it is. So yeah so I moved to Microsoft at the time I had the chance to either go to consulting or tech so because I was in tech consulting so I could I guess go either way but I chose tech at the end for the good work-life balance, interesting work, and the informal environment. And I think it's definitely the better option for me because the work-life balance is really good and I still get paid very well and I also don't have to wear suits to the office and I can work from home so which is great - very good pluses for me.

Kate: You sold it to me! Thank you Nina. And Lucius how did you secure your first role once you'd graduated?

Lucius: Yes definitely yeah I feel like it is kind of definitely a distant memory for me right now, but I did try to cover that I think in one of the other podcast series I think yeah I've done with Cate. So yeah I think like I probably got more fresh memory at that time, but for what I can remember like for now I think like it was I think going through I think it was on my master's degree. I think when I get into the master's degree around like October time I was around the same timing I did kind of already started like preparing for my resume and stuff. And actually the year before when I was graduating from Birmingham, I think at that time I was already starting looking at polishing my resume, cover letter and kind of going through an assessment centre like, you know, a few times at that point as well. So I guess all the preparation has already been kind of in the background for me like before I even actually started it and I guess to some of the other panellists also mentioned the points around, you know, the sooner the better, I think I definitely agree because with my experience with NatWest as a large organisation that kind of like grad schemes, live days, they always have that schedule so if you missed that you missed that. So I guess you do have to kind of like make sure you get on to that as soon as you know you physically and also mentally prepare. And I think what one of the things is they tend to do like first come first serve when they come to grad schemes. So it does make a difference when you actually apply a bit sooner rather than later, because that means they will actually be able to actually look at the resume you know for maybe the first batch of people, and then they can already start arranging some interviews and everything. So if the roles already filled up then you have slightly less chances when you're later down the pipeline so it's just the nature of how the grad scheme works in terms of recruitment of it. And I guess probably that's probably specifically for NatWest how I apply and stuff. But I guess probably dial back a little bit into like how I kind of come to know NatWest, how I search for it - I think I definitely agree with I think others also mentioned about like you probably only need one offer so there's a lot of things behind that like it probably means that you want to, you know, be resilient, handle rejection well. So that probably also means that you want to balance, and levelling up your chance by applying for more companies, but also balancing the time that it takes for you to actually fulfil all the tests and the preparation that you need to do for different companies, and that you only need one offer but also means that you don't really need to worry too much about all these big life long questions like say about what type of person you want to be, because what you really need to do is just get your feet on the ground when you graduate. So there's a level of compromise that to do that you don't have to worry too much about those things that you have all this time especially in a grad scheme that you have to kind of like deal with it, but even if you're applying for an actual role not a grad scheme, you still have that space in your road to think about will this road fit me, whether you want to go into somewhere else or you know you don't have to actually do everything. Yeah you don't have to get through a moment of epitome to be able to actually start applying, because you just probably need one offer at that point in time to ground your feet down. And I think the other point I think is Nina mentioning the sponsorship. I think it was also one of the big elements we're looking for because maybe for international student the options are quite limited in the sense that not all the companies would sponsor you, that sort of things, but then not all the companies who have a sponsoring license who actually have sponsorship for vacancies for this year, and then the third level is not all the companies who have sponsored vacancies who also have sponsorship this year will sponsor the route that you apply for. So there are different like kind of levels you almost imagine like a funnel view to it that you actually can only apply the very like kind of bottom of the suits are but what I'm saying, this is not to kind of like stress you out in any sense, but just do just to help you to make those conscious decisions. I think priority has always been a big word in my life, so it always comes down to this word for me, like you want to be able to prioritise your life a bit better so like i.e. that at this point in time because you want to increase your chances of applying you might want to just throw your hat in the rings for a few more companies, but then when you moving down the process you might actually narrow your focus on a few companies, so you want to prioritise one company over the other because you know by the research that you do, by the things you know about, like by the people that you talk to on LinkedIn, you actually fancy that company over the others, right, so you want to prioritise that and prioritise your effort over it and also you want to kind of consider like the you know academic effort that you also want to put into your degrees and everything. So I guess yeah all in all I think like that process like probably is a time for me to kind of really experience the spirit of priority at that point in time so I need to and but yeah I think that the key phrases for me is always like you only need one offer. So yeah that's it for me.

Kate: And I think there are a couple of things actually that I want to kind of pick up there on what you've all said so I guess what I'm taking from this is you need to be prepared, but also appreciate that you applying for jobs takes a lot of time - especially in the UK with graduate schemes, they have very set recruitment processes you know they have very kind of set scoring criteria with applications so you may need to prioritise your applications you know make sure that you give your applications the the right level of attention in order to kind of you know be successful. We actually at the University we partnered with a new company with a new resource this year called Student Circus. So Student Circus is a platform essentially where you can go and they only advertise sponsored jobs so that is helping you to sort of look at where where you may be able to apply, and companies that we know for sure will will sponsor international students. If I get chance later on I will drop the drop the link in the chat for everybody, but that's a new resource that we're using this year. I know we've had a question in Q&A which I think actually somebody's gone an answered so thank you for that, around kind of visa support. The graduate route visa is fairly new so Lucius and Nina wouldn't have had access to the graduate route visa at all when you were making your applications, but it's very similar to the visa that you kind of would have gone through with your with your job applications. We can't give specific visa advice on the call today but we do have an international student team who can answer all of your your questions. And I don't know, does anybody want to say anything about kind of the visa process or perhaps their experience of applying for jobs. Did employers understand that the visa process when you applied to them?

Nina: I just want to say that from what I've seen my friends who are sort of in who have graduated in the past couple of years when the post study work visa is available, I think I would still recommend people going straight for the skilled worker visa because it's just gonna count to - if you want to get a permanent residency in the UK - it's going to count towards that, whereas the post study work visa is kind of like a bit. If you can go straight to like skilled worker visa is much better than going for like a PSW.

Chloe: Yeah and another thing I also want to cover is about basically don't imagine you have a lot of time, because you will feel maybe very stressful after graduation staying here in UK paying rent every month and Council Tax and all of that without any student discount, and you have to pay for everything but you don't have an income. So like if you want to find a job this is the time to start. And yeah just really the earlier the better.

Kate: So earlier the better, the graduate route visa is an option to allow you to kind of stay in the country perhaps a little bit longer whilst you find your feet and whilst you make your applications. Okay so I think maybe we'll move on to the next question which is around how did you make the most of your time at university, was there anything that you did in particular which helped you secure a job here? I think if we just does anybody want to take that question first? If not I'll just pick at random.

Chloe: Maybe I will go for that - so I noticed before that many students they don't really have this habit to check their email to check their inbox every day they don't really do that but I would definitely recommend that because whenever you have some update you receive that from your email. So just form this kind of habit, and to download Outlook on your computer, and on your phone and so that every time when there's an event going on you can just know in the first time. So basically before I attended this kind of 'woman of the year' ceremony and everything is for free they just reserve a table for our uni, and yeah so if you didn't catch that then the opportunity is gone. And every other similar opportunity is also like they would just appear in the email. So just try to read email, I definitely recommend that, but not everyone is doing that.

Kate: Yeah I think for students sometimes it can be information overload, but students on the call are from a huge range of different disciplines so whatever it is that you're studying, your careers team, your career service, will be sending you regular emails with upcoming workshops that might be of interest, any employer events. Careers Connect is the system that we use to advertise everything - opportunities and events. So just make sure that you check that regularly, so you don't miss out as Chloe says. Does anybody else have anything to add on that at all?

Irina: Yeah I will if you want. So I'm not sure whether there any undergraduate students as well attending this event - yes there will be - so yeah so if you're an undergraduate student I think it's just easier for undergrads to do this, do you get involved in committees and societies I'm saying that because usually when they choose the committees it's basically in May for the next year, so then it might be a bit more difficult for some masters students to do that. So definitely get involved with that because that is going to give you an opportunity for you to showcase soft skills. Or if you're basically into Finance you could go for something like Treasurer role that could kind of show that you've had some kind of link with numbers and stuff like that. Or if you want to do marketing you can be you know some kind of secretary, and say you know because all societies have social media. So find different roles that you could be using later on, not just to showcase that you've been involved and you did something outside of your course, but also to kind of link it back to the career that you want to do later on. I think as Chloe said being a student rep is again a really good opportunity to show that you know you're not just involved in your everyday academic life but you are actually doing something for the wider student community. And just yeah just look at all of the emails and see if there's going to be lots of events, webinars, opportunities for you to network with future possible employers, or with alumni, that could later on help you with your job search, because networking is quite important when you're looking for a job. And if you don't succeed within graduate schemes or within looking by yourself for a job, don't be put off by that because you can always find someone to network with, and they could put you in contact with someone else and so on until you could actually find jobs. There are a couple of students that I know who did this and they succeeded in getting a job, or they even had jobs created for them because the team was so lovely and they had a sort of a good relationship with them. So yeah just try and get involved and don't just let yourself sucked in assignments even though it's really easy to do so.

Kate: Definitely and Irina I know you had the opportunity to do a year placement as part of your degree and so some students on the call may have that option, others won't, and I know that a lot of international students I speak to are concerned that perhaps they don't have work experience but look out for other opportunities to do consultancy projects as part of your course, group projects where you might be working on a real life company problem, anything that gives you experience and exposure to companies and working with other students from other disciplines. Lucius or Nina was there anything that you wanted to add at all, or anything particular that you did whilst you were studying?

Lucius: Yeah again I can go for that one so I think I want to echo yeah about getting making use of the committee and yeah projects in the school. I definitely did those things and also to give a shout out to Careers Network of the thing at that time a big internship, big careers coaching, CV workshop, I think mock interview and everything I can find out Careers Network. So definitely helped me to get into the right mindset and everything, so I would definitely recommend that you know from my personal experience. Probably to cover like two or three more points I think like just quickly go for I think the first point maybe is around the thinking about demonstrating your skill. I think it's a little bit like the soft skill that thing like right now like when I'm sitting on the other side of the table like trying to help in the recruitment processing, what we're looking for essentially is do kind of various skill and experience space like it's not good enough for you to probably say that, 'oh you have that soft skill', but you need to put it into a context of how you make it work. So I think it came to your point about participating in project and I think that would help with that and I think probably a little softer is also there are a different level of arguments that you can provide so like an example would be if you say that you're participating in some project from a course environment I think that's good. I think it's actually more powerful if you're participating project from a society or in a kind of external facing company but that's because that's closer to the work environment. So there are a different level of arguments that we can build up. So I'm not saying that like don't start anywhere but what I'm saying essentially don't feel like the rush that you need to kind of get to the best kind of experience that you have like which, probably in my head would be ideally you've been into the company and you've done an internship in that company so that would be the the experience that you want to shine in your resume because that's such a powerful statement, because you're already in a company you've been there for some time as well, but if you don't have that don't worry, you have all these other level of arguments that you can help build that credibility in your resume that not only saying that you can do it but also from your experience you can tell that you can do these things, that you can demonstrate the soft skills. So that's probably the first point worth noting down. The other point is about practising your language skills, because I think as an international student I think it's always been a bit learning curve I think even for I think right now I think... words are evolutions like because everyone is so good because you know it pushes up the standard for everyone is very good at the language skills but I think if you want to put that into the context of you know working or you know actually in a country how would the cultural reference work and all this stuff, it's doing a good amount of talking to people to get to know this. So I think putting yourself out there like mingle with people, participate in networking events like what Chloe just suggested. Make sure you grab those chances. I think that those are all the things that could you know to make sure that you demonstrate and practice your language skills as much as you can. I think last point I wanted to just bring in is just embrace the difference that you have with other people. The reason I said that is like I think probably just from the culture that I'm kind of coming from it's very normal for me to actually watch out for my peers to say that well let's see what my peers doing and then I'll probably do the same things right. It's very common in the culture to do like that but I don't think it actually work like that in UK in the sense that I think in UK we respected that individualism in the sense that you know everyone, a little bit like minding your own business right, but that doesn't mean that I mean like I think the point I really want to get to is that is okay that you benchmark or baseline yourself against your peers, but it is okay to be different right. You might you might worry about work in this situation where no one's in your class actually looking for jobs, but you know for sure that you want to get a job in UK because you love working here, you want to get yourself grounded into the feet. It's okay to be different than everyone else and then and another aspect in that difference would be like you might also you know be a bit more proactive in this culture, because like you know in UK if you don't ask for it people don't know that we want it. So I think make sure that you also put your hands up when the opportunity arrives, make sure you volunteer yourself, be proactive, and doing those things so I think yeah those are some points I want to build on there.

Thank you Lucius. And Nina was there anything that you wanted to add to any anything that's been said?

Nina: Yeah I think I definitely agree with the things that everyone has already talked about. Yeah I think just building on points as well, I definitely agree that language skills are super important because at the end of the day if you're not able to actually communicate with people, like whether it's an interviewer or your colleagues, it's just not gonna fly, no matter how good you are at the technical stuff perhaps that you do. So I think that's definitely something, you don't have to sound like a native - it's okay, but you need to be understandable by other people, and you also need to understand other people as well, so you need to be able to express yourself in interviews that demonstrate that you are a suited candidate for that role And I definitely also I think it's because me and Lucius both studied psychology, and people in psychology are a bit can be a bit rogue I think sometimes! I was literally the only person in my friend group, which mostly consisted of psychology students when I was at uni, so and the thing is I was also the only - well there was another one who's also International, but she got married so that's something else. That's another way to get your visa in the UK. But you know I think it's harder! But I was the only person that needed to get a work visa to be able to stay here - everybody else were either from here from Europe, or got married or whatnot. So I think the pressure was definitely there but nobody like around me like none of my friends were like really under that same pressure. So I just had to do it myself, I just had to like make sure that I have to walk this sort of path on my own, and also because I was late to the party so I didn't really get the chance to network, or meet, or socialise with other people who are also looking for jobs. But if you still have the time to do that I would definitely recommend that because I think having that sort of support, just having that environment where you can talk about job hunting, to share your experiences, I think is super important. If you can't find that there are a lot of really good websites that you can find like Student Room, there's another one I can't remember the name, yeah just search for, say, graduate scheme the company name and insert the year like 2023 next year - something like that - you'll find a lot of chat rooms for students who are looking for graduate roles, you can share experience there, you can see what other people are saying, you know, people who've gone through the process, the interviews, assessment centre etc and I think it's really valuable to have that support environment actually. But yeah even if you don't have that in real life, you know, we're living in the 21st century where you can find everything online, so definitely look out for those as well because I found them super helpful when I was applying for my graduate job.

Kate: That's brilliant, thank you Nina. And we've got around 10 minutes left so I'd encourage if anybody has any more burning questions please do put them in the Q&A section to make sure that we can answer them within the time. But just talking about recruitment processes in the UK, was there anything that you found particularly surprising or different from what you were used to elsewhere? Anything that's kind of typical to UK recruitment processes that you'd like to talk about? Chloe, you've unmuted, do you want to go?

Chloe: Yeah I have like a bunch of experience in that everything is very important from, sorry, everything is very different from what I imagined before. So just like Nina said before, I never imagined I can just work from home right after I graduate, and I don't have to wear suits and everyone's super chill, and they're very casual. That's just not something I imagined. And during an interview I remember I was very extremely nervous and yeah I was literally sweating, but the interviewer they're just very nice, and even if like there's some tiny technical issue although I didn't really hear about their question and what they talked about it's fine to ask them to repeat that. So and also there's definitely no discrimination at all, so you don't have to worry about like if you're a woman or man or like how long have you been here in UK and like what kind of like all kind of other things people take discrimination at. Like that doesn't really exist and I can really feel this kind of diversity and inclusion, and right now I'm working the pan EU base the business management is a pan EU based so I work with colleagues who from all over the world across EU and it really made me more confident because I can just hear different kind of accents than I've ever experienced before and it's very funny. And no one ever feel bad about that so it's okay just be bold, be confident, everything is okay, you are hard working enough.

Kate: Thank you. Thank you Chloe, had you finished? Okay perfect. Irina or Nina is anything that you'd like to add, anything that you found surprising?

Nina: I'm happy to go. I think definitely like this is still very surprising when every time I talk to people, even people here to be fair, a lot of even British people, they don't know about this - but I did psychology. I work in software engineering now and I think the same with Lucius as well also works in tech, and honestly nobody cares about your degree, what discipline you did your degree in, very, very rarely do people care. Especially I think in the realm of the visa sponsoring jobs, I think it's even more common for people to not care about your degree. All the popular companies for international graduates, like the banks, the Big Four, the tech firms, they don't really ask for any specific discipline. I think that's very surprising for a lot of other people. So even at Microsoft they recruit Software Engineers, which is the most technical - even in the tech company, so the most technical role - they also recruit people who are not computer science graduates. So I think even if you're not enjoying your degree, if you want to change career, there are limitless options that you can go for. Yeah that just where you can sort of correct your mistakes perhaps, that you chose the wrong degree to do like I did.

Kate: I think if you look back Nina you probably agree that maybe you didn't do the wrong degree because it's all about the experience and everything else that you do, it's about the full entire package, isn't it, when you apply for jobs. Irina or Lucius is there anything else that you wanted to add at all about anything that you found surprising?

Irina: For me just the whole recruitment process for graduate schemes and placements was mind-blowing because I didn't expect that. I've always expected to have, you know, an interview with another person or potentially a couple of other people and then that was it, but then when you have so many tests, psychometric tests, you have assessment centres, and then after the assessment centres you might have another interview. It was really surprising for me because I I don't think - I'm from Romania - and I don't think that's happening very often. I think now we're starting to grow there with the bigger companies. But I was really put off by all of these recruitment steps because I felt like I couldn't be myself, I couldn't you know show them who I really was because in an assessment centre it's very competitive - you have so many other students - so if you're not the kind of person that, you know, you're not necessarily trying to get ahead of others, like I'm not saying not competitive because I was to an extent competitive, but sometimes it's difficult to to put yourself out there and have all the other students kind of doing the same thing. It's overwhelming. So don't be put off by that and do keep trying and if that kind of recruitment process doesn't really appeal to you, you can always as I did go for a smaller company, and then as you work your way up the recruitment process is basically going to be a little less daunting because you're gonna have, you know, your career steps to showcase and your results through all the strategies you've created or whatever other results and outcomes, you would have those to speak for yourself.

Kate: Yeah that's really interesting, and interesting point about, you know, we're not all good at selling ourselves and it can be very uncomfortable for you in an assessment process to sell yourself, but just imagine that you are up against other students, other graduates, who may have very similar experience to you. So you need to work out what makes you unique. Lucius was there anything at all that you wanted to add that hasn't already been covered?

Lucius: Probably just one quick point because I was actually a bit surprised - I mean not totally surprised - but I think from my experience and seeing like probably just to Irina's last point there, I think initially I did generally feel like I can kind of try to be myself on those occasions, I think probably when I reflected now, the challenge I did actually face - I feel like because it's such a unique I mean like success is a quite unique process so you're pretty much kind of in there with everyone else who has similar backgrounds, so it makes you feel like you want to kind of like be someone else - a different persona - to be able to kind of be better and stuff, and I do think it is this. I think as a matter of fact there are probably a lot of companies that actually encourage that culture. But the more I think about it, that probably I always say, that it's a matching process right. I think initially my point was about you know like, 'ah don't be afraid, just be yourself in the process', but then I think from what I'm hearing today it feels like it's a matching process, so if you find the organisation who would adopt a similar kind of way of doing interviews, assessment centres, and everything, but it still allows you to be yourself then it's probably the organisation that you'd want to stay with but I do recognise that not every organisation's like that. So I guess that's probably the only point that I noticed because yeah I think that probably also coming from a kind of Asian background so like we are very competitive in the nature of the culture. I think I just everyone trying to you know be best at something so I guess the the other reason I have is that you probably don't necessarily have to be like that mode. I think you want to be decisive you want to kind of tell other people that you want something, and then you can show them how you would get it, but then like well an example is like in the interview you don't always have to be the the alpha type of person, you don't have to be the top person in it you can be an observer - and they still get the interview because I think that was, that's the insight I found so helpful because right now I'm also helping recruiting graduates, and I think even the criteria that we were given, we're not just looking for you know the most active with the student. I think we're looking for the talents individuals who can offer something on the table. I think that's how I would say it so as long as you have something you need to offer to the team like whether it's you observe the whole things and then you can guide towards the conversation the trends of it, or what you are you know you're a very good supporting individuals like whenever a vision has been created in the groups collectively you can articulate it very well and play it back. So these are all the very good skill set that you can demonstrate and yeah I think that that's those of us also have.

Kate: Yeah that's really really important points Lucius and I think it goes back to actually you know understanding what your own personal strengths are and understanding that actually not every job that you look at is going to be right for you, not every company is going to be right for you, it's about trying to find out those companies, those roles, that really suit yourself and your values and your strengths, and that's really important as well. Just double checking to see if we have any questions in the Q&A. We've covered quite a few as we've been going along which is great, and yes the session is being recorded and I will send the recording out after the session today. Somebody's asked if there are any good websites that provide good and valuable online training - I'm not sure if that's relating to any particular training. If that's just general training -

Irina: I could yeah I could say just a little bit - if you want training in career for example do go for Careers Network because they're here to help you - that is what Kate's doing right now actually. So they are there to help you with different mock interviews or mock assessment centres. I actually had a very good list of questions that you could be asked in an interview so if you want to prepare your answers. If it's any other type of training, I think what's very good for digital skills. LinkedIn - we get a free LinkedIn premium was it or LinkedIn Learning?

Kate: That's right, LinkedIn Learning.

Irina: Yeah so you can find a lot of training there as well. I did some of that as well and it's just a way for you to showcase that you are interested in the field that you want to go into, and it also provides you with a couple of you know insights and different types of skills from soft skills all the way to you know training on for example in my case Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator which are very useful for creating content and which is something that I use. So yeah I would recommend to look at those first and then there's lots of free student little courses online that you can find I don't remember the platforms but there's lots of like free online training platforms that you can find yeah.

Chloe: I remember like just like Irina said I think our university have this kind of cooperation with Careers Network and you can definitely find more information about that, and if you don't, just send them an email and they will probably try to help you. And also LinkedIn Learning that's everything is for free. And I also did something on Google, I think it's called like Google Academy, something like that, and they basically they do everything. They have some tiny marketing courses and some like digital skill courses and they also have some like programming courses, and everything is for free, and you can also get like a little badge or something, certificate. So if you are interested in a specific field then you can just try to find this kind of training online. They're not really like super super helpful but if people see that then they would know that you're serious about. They would know that you generally have this interest in this field. So yeah and I also think something like Bright Network that's not advertising that's just something that happened before in like Coventry University, and like there's also some cooperation and you can just search for like 'Bright Network' and I think they are doing this kind of internship like virtual internship thing and in every like winter or and summer yeah - just search and you'll find more.

Kate: That's right. Lucius?

Lucius: There are deals for Black Friday - that's what I just want to say. If you check out for like course they appreciate they do like pretty good discounts I think about around the seasons and yeah I think there are a few more, I just couldn't remember off the top of my head, but I think like if you are just generally looking for like technical courses, I think the top few kind of Google search tend to be you know some good hints for you to look out for.

Kate: Yeah. I know IBM also offers some some courses as well. I'm just conscious of the time - it's one o'clock already. We had a really really great discussion. I think we covered quite a lot during that session so I'd just like to finish by thanking the panellists - thank you to all of you for joining us and giving up probably your lunch break today, really appreciate it. To all of the students on the call, I will send a recording out shortly, so you'll receive a copy of that. If you have any other questions then please do get in touch. But to everybody on the call thank you so much and enjoy the rest of your day.


Thank you.



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