Thursday, 24 November 2016

International student now working in the Arcadis Group, UK

International student now working in the UK Case study

Alex Omelchuk
MSc Construction Management 2015-16
Now: Project Manager with Arcadis Group in Birmingham (UK)

My name is Alex; I did my Master’s Degree at the University of Birmingham in 2015-16. I am a civil engineer who arrived in the UK to do postgraduate studies in Construction Management. My aim was to find a job in the building industry within the UK.

How did you go about job hunting in the UK?

My story began in October last year when I started applying for jobs through the Graduate Schemes, Internships, and Volunteering. My first priority was to gain experience and to develop myself as a young professional. For that reason, I concentrated on applying even for short -period programmes, like summer placements, no matter how big or small the company was. Of course the priority was my studies, but I realised that I should start looking for work in parallel with them because of very high competition in the job market and time restrictions linked to my student visa. I decided to make the most of my experience as a postgraduate student in the UK. My parents had payed a huge amount of money in order to give me the opportunity to choose a better future. So, the stakes were too high and I felt a huge responsibility for my family. I established a goal and clarified the reason for coming here, which was basically to find a job. Moreover, I said that even if I don’t find a job in the UK after my graduation, at least I would have gained very valuable and important experience in the whole procedure of ‘’job hunting’’, which definitely would make me more self -confident and fluent in English.

There are several different ways of looking for jobs: applying on the web sites of the companies; identifying professionals on LinkedIn and talking to them directly; or talking with the recruitment agencies (Reed, Hays etc.), who look for jobs on your behalf. I did all of these methods simultaneously and changed my strategy from time to time when there weren’t positive results. Also, I Googled the 100 top UK construction companies and started following all of them on LinkedIn and other social media.

What advice do you have for current international students hoping to find a job in the UK?

I would like to give some advice to international students who are looking for a job in the UK. First of all, do your research and learn about your field, the existing companies, their projects and objectives. Generally, try to get involved in everything, I mean follow the news of the market, go to events and participate in them (it’s very important to start talking to people), which the University organises (Careers Network and others), it will dramatically increase your communication skills and will broaden your knowledge. Just decide what you are interested in (apart from your main field) and go. For instance, I attended a number of events: one was called ‘B –enterprising’ and was all about business, how to create your own start -up and how to implement your ideas into real life. My main field was construction, but I was also interested in business, so this gave me some insights.

Also, clarify what is your dream job, if someone asks (but don’t tell them that you want to be a CEO and do nothing!) you have to be able to give a reasonable answer. In regards to Career Fairs, they didn’t directly help me to find a job as such, but they provided a lot of information. I strongly recommend that you go to Careers Fairs prepared; remember that there is no point in going there without talking to anybody and just collecting the leaflets. Guys, talking is the key!! Do not be embarrassed if your English is not perfect, it doesn’t matter, your self- confidence and strength are what matter!

How did you make your application stand out and impress your employer in your interview?

I suggest that use the CV checking services which Careers Network provides and to take advice on how to present your CV properly, it will really help you. In my case, I didn’t mention my nationality or my age in my CV and this is not required in the UK. After you create a perfect CV and Cover Letter (which are the basics) you should start applying.

During interviews, concentrate exclusively on your skills, educational background and work experience (if you have any), reveal your personality and don’t focus on your international passport! Be adaptable, smart and well prepared. You have to know everything about the company where you will be having an interview. Know your strengths and prepare the answers to that classic kind of questions like: Where do you see yourself in five years... Also, first impressions matter, so it is extremely important to be dressed up properly and to pay attention to the details, like have a haircut before you go to the interview! One useful tip is not only to answer the questions, but to ask them about their clients and current projects of the company, or other different details which interest you. You should convince them that you are a motivated person.

How did your postgraduate studies at Birmingham prepare you for your current role?

At this moment, I am working as a project manager and my Masters really helped me to prepare for the current role. I like the fact that it was extremely close to the real professional world, it helped me on my last interview, because the questions were mostly about my postgraduate studies and the modules which I have done.

The University of Birmingham provides plenty of information and gives you a chance to participate in many events. But from your side you have to put in effort in order to succeed because no one will secure a job position for you; don’t waste your time and motivate yourself every day and don’t let the rejections get you down. I strongly believe that dedicated and hardworking people will be rewarded eventually. I wish you the best of the good luck!

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