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Working in the UK
International students Working in the UK
Usually companies attending Universities or a recruitment fair will not be there to interview or offer jobs to candidates on the spot. Generally, they introduce their company in the hope that you will apply to them. More information
- formalised schemes where you get experience of working with a company through undertaking projects on your own.
- paid positions for a fixed number of weeks, often during the summer but may run at Easter also.
- often aimed at second or third years. There are some shorter internships for first years and some for graduates.
- often used to fast-track strong candidates to later stages of the graduate scheme recruitment process
- advertised in the autumn and spring. Start looking in October for spring/ summer internships.
Charities and non-profit organisations are allowed to offer unpaid internships. Other companies offering unpaid internships may be breaking the national minimum wage legislation.
Work Experience and Shadowing
Work experience can be part of your course in which case the minimum wage requirements do not apply. It often refers to low-paid work for a short period of time, which you may set up yourself. Work shadowing is the opportunity to observe an employee in their workplace. It can be useful to gain an insight into a job role.
Temporary, Casual and Part-time Work
- Temporary work is short term work. Apply for temporary work through The Careers Group.
- Casual work doesn't have fixed hours: you work when the employer needs you. For example, catering staff working at different events venues.
- Part-time work is a regular number of hours per week.
Universities and students unions’ often offer a wide range of volunteering (unpaid) opportunities. These are very valuable in developing the skills that employers look for and improving your English.
Money and Tax
The UK has a national minimum wage which means that, with few exceptions, you must receive at least that hourly rate. In most cases, it is illegal for a company to employ staff in any capacity without paying them the national minimum wage. That does not mean it does not happen and in some sectors the culture of expecting students and graduates to work unpaid has not diminished since the introduction of the national minimum wage. Therefore you will still see adverts for unpaid internships in a range of sectors including global PR firms, the media and marketing. Employers can only advertise through The Careers Group by agreeing that their positions meet the requirements under employment legislation.
Once you have started work you must also register to pay tax. The tax system works largely through a Pay-As-You-Earn system with the employer deducting tax before paying you. There is an entitlement to work and not pay tax provided you earn less than a certain amount per year - your personal tax allowance. In reality your employer will deduct tax on the basis you will earn more than that and expect you to claim back at the end of the tax year. Once again the direct.gov.uk website has a whole lot of information about tax to help you understand what you need to do. It will also give you instructions on how to apply for a National Insurance card
Students - Working and Immigration
The general rule is that non-EU students are permitted to work 20 hours per week during term time, and 40 hours per week in vacation periods. Of course this depends on each student visa and, if in doubt, it is worth checking your entitlement to work first. Student Visas are usually issued on the understanding that the student will be self-supporting and shouldn't need to work, but that work is seen as a valuable means of developing skills. The UKCISA website has useful information about working in the UK during your studies.
Graduate level roles
A graduate level role is a paid job which is suitable for someone who has undertaken a degree or postgraduate study. You are given any training or support that you need. Most small to medium sized firms advertise graduate level roles throughout the year. Once you have received a job offer you can start work as soon as it is convenient to both you and the organisation. We recommend that you begin searching for a graduate level role 6 months in advance of your student visa expiring and updating your CV and familiarising yourself with job websites even earlier. This is because you need to have your Certificate of Sponsorship from your future employer and use it to apply for and gain your new visa before your student visa expires.
You may find useful this 'Guide for employers on recruiting international students'. This helps understand how to sponsor an international student and it can be useful to explain this process to a potential employer at the end of an interview or if they show interest in recruiting you.
Graduate Training Schemes
Graduate Schemes are entry-level positions for graduates. They usually include a period of training (typically one or two years) but they are permanent jobs. Companies may offer different schemes depending on the career route.
In most sectors you need to apply in the Autumn (Michelmas) term between August and December, to begin work with the company July - September the following year. For finance and business roles apply as soon as you can after August.
The Application process: Graduate Schemes and internships
A typical process would include:
- Online application form and/or a CV
- Online psychometric test
- Assessment Centre- includes group work and e-tray exercises
- Final interview
- Job offer!
For help sheets on the application process, visit Careers Tagged and search the stage where you would like assistance e.g. ' How to write a CV'.