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How I landed a job in the UK

UCL Careers13 April 2015

International students know that trying to get a job in the UK can be difficult. Mengjia an International Masters in Economy, State and Society from UCL only knows this too well. She gives her top tips on how to land that job in the UK and the effort required.

“Many people think that international students are disadvantaged in the job market, but I gradually found that if you really want something and was very focused on it, you will be able to utilise your unique strengths to get it”

> Preparation: I went to a double Master program at UCL, specialised in Economics and International Relations.

One year before my graduation, I had an exchange abroad to Russia. Although I could get through to the next stage in the application process, my application form was so poor (my poor English) that I did not get any interview invitation. After reflecting on my weakness, I started to consult UCL Careers actively. The team of UCL Careers is so supportive and with their help I finally improved my “portfolio” of documents for online application upon my graduation. This is a really important stage in the job hunting.

From June to September (which is the beginning of the busiest job hunting season), I used three months to prepare my application forms. I learnt that I benefited a lot from this experience because of my full preparations. It is really important to know what you want, improve your weakness, and get yourself ready. Be open with your own limitations. Most importantly, do not be shy to ask for help when you do need it!

 > Organising the busy schedules and keep motivated: From the date of my graduation in September to the day that I got my job offer, I applied for around one hundred positions in the financial sector. Although I had three summer internships in the financial sector and a three-month summer internship in London before my application, still it was super hard to land on a job. From September to January (five months) I worked on my applications for at least 10 hours per day and 7 days per week (approximately for 70- 90 hours per week). My schedule was so bad and all my friends were shocked. Now looking back, as an international student, I was confronted with a lot of visa problems despite the headaches due to a competitive job market. Thus it is important that I organised my job-hunting time well and the progress of each application.

Being rejected was really disappointing, because sometimes that I did feel that I was qualified for the position. During this process, I got a lot of supports from my friends and UCL GradClub. Most importantly, I was really lucky that I scheduled sufficient amount of time for mock interviews and assessment centres with UCL GradClub and my friends. The consultants at UCL GradClub are very reliable, professional and generous. We went through each exercise before each assessment centre and also reflected on my performances of each assessment centre. Practice makes perfect!

> Never Give Up: I have to confess that for international students the limited time staying in the UK after graduation is one of the biggest challenges. This challenge did discourage a lot of international students once they finished their study. However, I found that if you utilise these four months well, the time scale is enough to find a proper job. In addition, there are so many other opportunities, for example Tier 5 internships to help international students with further job hunting. Do not give up; even it is the darkest time. You can cry, but you should think when you are challenged. Find the solution and take actions. Job-hunting is just a starting point, while there might be many more challenging tasks on the job and in the future. Use this experience as a precious lesson for life.

 > Finally, Be positive: during this process, I was offered seven assessment centres and finally there were two companies, which offered me with graduate positions. I realised that reflection and self-confidence are so important. In the end it was not my skills/internships but my perseverance that helped me to arrive at my dream job! Many people think that international students are disadvantaged in the job market, but I gradually found that if you really want something and was very focused on it, you will be able to utilise your unique strengths to get it. Never look down upon yourself. Have faith and confidence in you, and treat each rejection as a lesson. “Team work” with your friends and UCL GradClub. They are definitely standing by you!

See how UCL Careers can help you Find your Future: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers

Do we live in a VUCA world?

UCL Careers7 July 2014

VUCA is an acronym used to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The common usage of the term VUCA began in the 1990s within US military and has subsequently been used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, including everything from for-profit corporations to education.

The business sector has been talking about a VUCA world for a couple of years now, suggesting the turbulent environment is real and is here to stay.  Is this the “new normal”?  And if so, can we really prepare for a VUCA world?

Dan Simpson, Head of Talent at Siemens UK believes that we should! In order to survive in the VUCA world, we need to change our perception of work.  In this brave new world, work is less location-specific and more network-based.  Your networks are key!  You will take them with you throughout your career regardless of employer or location.

In our VUCA world, we must acquire and, more importantly, continuously update our skills for success.  We need to be prepared to take advantage of different learning methodologies: bite-sized learning in TED talks and MOOCs.  The ability to acquire life-long learning, the ability to reflect and adapt to new ideas is and will become increasingly invaluable.

Whether or not VUCA is the “new normal”, there is no doubt that the world is being shaped in this way.  Dan Simpson at Siemens UK specifically searches for candidates who are able to recognise the importance of networking building, reflecting and updating skills. To prepare for the unknown can only be a good thing.

To find out more about VUCA and how to prepare for the unknown, sign up to the University of London’s Employability MOOC which runs until 25th July.

– Helen West, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers