My career journey (so far) from the perspective of an International Graduate

Aiswarya Kishor an Indian student who studied MEng (Hons) Biomaterials Science and Tissue Engineering and graduated in 2018 tells us of her career journey so far. Aiswarya is now a Graduate Information Developer at Arm in the UK.aISWARYA 

I have always admired people who knew what they wanted to do with their careers, especially because I was never one of them. When I first arrived in Manchester in September 2014, I was clueless about what I wanted to do after graduating and so, every summer during university, I worked as an intern to discern which path suited me most.

By third year, I had narrowed the options down to working in research. To the ears of a tissue engineering student, a career on the brink of medical breakthroughs sounded exhilarating! To test it out, I worked as a research intern at Oxford University. It was during that internship that I had the epiphany that working in a lab simply wasn’t the right fit for me. By then, my final year at university was about to begin and most of my limited work experience was geared towards a career in academia.

The natural alternative to pursuing a PhD and going down the research path was to find a graduate job. I soon decided this would be my goal and started actively job-hunting. During that time, several well-meaning friends warned me that finding a job in the UK as an international student was difficult, to say the least, but I was certain of my goal and determined not to give up. The very day I began applying, the rejections started pouring in and I began to experience firsthand the challenge of finding a company willing to sponsor a non-UK/EU citizen.

Throughout the process, the one thing that worked in my favour was the emphasis most companies place on ‘transferrable skills’. As a proactive person who likes to get involved and try new things, I had unwittingly picked up many of those exact skills while volunteering on campus, juggling part-time jobs, participating in student societies and writing for the Mancunion.

In May 2018, these skills and the loving support of some close friends and family helped me bag a graduate job! I now work at Arm — a vibrant company filled with smart, friendly people — doing a job that combines several of my interests and skills. I’ve now been here for about 6 months and I can honestly say that I wake up every morning looking forward to going to work. Looking to the future, I may not know where I’ll be in 5 years’ time, but I am confident that I can handle whatever life throws my way. After all, completing job applications, attending interviews, writing a final year dissertation and facing rejections all at once? Been there, done that.

Some of my top tips for international students hoping to secure a graduate job:

  • There’s no better time to start than now. Keep toxic people a mile away and ignore their words of discouragement. If you really want that job, just work hard and be resilient.
  • Grab every opportunity to gain experience while you are still a student. It is surprisingly common for summer internships and placements to lead to graduate offers.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of networking — it helps you build essential contacts and discover new jobs. Employee referrals will only boost your chances of getting that dream job!
  • Many companies use algorithms to sieve through applications so make sure your CV includes the keywords they are looking for.
  • Manchester has a terrific careers service! Make the most of it. Arrange one-to-one sessions with experienced career consultants, network at Meet the Professionals events, find vacancies on CareersLink and speak to a solicitor if you have any concerns regarding the visa application process.

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