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International students: work experience, graduate jobs and finding vacancies

Gaining work experience

Getting work experience is generally the best way of improving your CV, especially if it is in something related to the career you want to get into. Employers will be more likely to take you on if they know you and already know what you are like as an employee.

  • Voluntary and unpaid work experience is just as impressive to UK employers as paid work, especially if it is related to your career interests.
  • Work experience gained outside the UK is also of interest to employers.
  • Any key work experiences should be included in your CV, regardless of where you gained them.

Non-EU international students need to start building work experience as soon as they arrive in the UK because, in general, they can only gain work experience while they have a student visa. Non-EU students are likely to be able to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and any number of hours during vacations. See information regarding working in the UK.

Work experience is particularly important for international students hoping to work in the UK after graduation because:

  • It demonstrates that you can work successfully in a UK commercial environment. For example, it shows that you understand UK business culture and that your English language is strong enough.
  • It may lead to that employer applying for sponsorship to take you on more permanently in the future.

Finding job vacancies and work experience opportunities

Our vacancies and work experience resources will help you identify specialist vacancy sites related to a specific occupational area or your subject, give tips and advice on how to find vacancies and link you to current vacancies advertised through InfoHub.

Historically, graduate work permits are easier to get for:

  • Employers who need large numbers of graduates, eg some large accountancy or engineering firms.
  • Employers for whom your specific language skills and knowledge are an asset.
  • Employers who know you, eg through placement, work-shadowing and project opportunities.

Vacancy checklist

Use the following vacancy checklist for International students (InfoHub resource sheet) to determine whether vacancies you find are suitable.

Creating your own UK work opportunities

Your chances of finding work in the UK can be dramatically increased by finding and approaching employers who will see your specific language skills and cultural knowledge as an asset.

  • See the Home Office list of registered UK Employer Sponsors.
  • Find out about the Home Office code of practice and what the salary requirements are for a job to be considered a 'graduate job'.
  • Look at sites such as Indeed. You can search using keywords eg ‘graduate’, ‘finance’ and ‘Mandarin’ to find vacancies particularly looking for people with certain language or cultural knowledge. 
  • Engage with schemes such as UWE Bristol International Talent, which links international students with employers who are keen to utilise their linguistic skills and cultural knowledge to help them expand into new overseas markets.
  • Use Alumni networks that may be able to link you with graduates from your country who are now in employment in the UK. Look at our Alumni web pages or the British Council website for a list of organisations who can put you in touch with alumni.
  • The UK-based embassy for your country may be able to provide lists of UK employers with links to your country.
  • Speak to The Students' Union about whether there are any appropriate societies that focus on your country of interest.
  • Attend internationally-focused events that bring employers and students together.

You can also find out more about working and volunteering at UWE Bristol.

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