Hi everyone! As I begin my final year of university after completing my placement year, I thought I’d share my thoughts on how I upskilled myself throughout my time at university, and how I hope these skills will transfer to future job roles!
At Bath, students on placement courses are guided quite early on about placement applications, summer roles, and internships. In my case, we had weekly sessions covering a wide range of topics from how to improve your CV and experiences to how to apply for job roles. Although I had previously been an intern at various places, I was eager to have a proper “job”. I was aware that as an international student on a Tier-4 visa, I was only allowed to work 20 hours per week. So, I decided to work within this restriction by looking for part-time roles.
However, I was an international student with little knowledge of UK workplaces. I thought it would be best to start off working in a familiar environment such as the university campus. As luck would have it, I received a department-wide email about the role of a Wellbeing Ambassador with Student Services. Using the tips I had learnt in the placement workshops (knowing your top 3 strengths and weaknesses being one of them!) I decided to apply for the job. My CV and cover letter were reviewed and after a short interview, I got the role! I was ecstatic- this would be my first ever paid job!
After initial training sessions, I began to take up various ad-hoc tasks. These involved organising stalls and games during Wellbeing Week, doing Instagram takeovers covering various SU events, and filming cooking tutorials for the University’s social media channels. I also made good friends while working on these tasks, and greatly improved my public speaking and communication skills. As I reflect on my experiences as a Wellbeing Ambassador, I can’t help but emphasise how much it helped me improve skills like active listening, teamwork, IT, and time management. Most importantly, I discovered my interest and skills in areas I had not considered before, such as cooking and baking, and photography!
Towards the end of my second year, I started looking for placement roles. Regarding this, I was apprehensive about my CV not being strong enough, and my status as an international student not meeting the eligibility criteria of placement companies. After a chat with my Placement Officer (Amy Childe), I was pleasantly surprised to find that most places appreciate how challenging it can be to manage work and university assignments. Also, except for a few UK government-based roles, I was able to apply to all placement companies that I was interested in. My visa status did not stop me from being eligible for paid placement roles, and I was even issued a temporary National Insurance number as I could not apply for one due to COVID restrictions. To check whether placement providers welcome students from other nationalities, I would suggest looking at the “Nationality Restrictions” column while looking for placement roles. I also highly recommend getting in touch with the Placements Team if you have any queries like I did!
It was at my placement interview with CybSafe, the company I later worked for, that I realised how much working on campus increased my employability. I was able to link various experiences as a Wellbeing Ambassador while expanding on my suitability for the role of a Psychology Research Analyst. For example, I was able to highlight how teamwork with other Ambassadors during wellbeing events helped me learnt transferable skills such as coordination and multitasking, both of which are important skills required in workplace communication, task management, and even conducting real-life research with other academics.
As I now think about my plans after graduating, I can also appreciate how working as an International Student Ambassador has helped me improve my skills further. I started this role almost a year ago, and every task allows me to explore my interests and develop my skills. Whether it is public speaking development while organising webinars or communication skills while chatting with applicants on UniBuddy, the ISA role has greatly improved my self-confidence and employability. Even writing blogs posts such as this one has let me improve myself in areas such as creative writing and articulation!
When applying for postgraduate courses, I’m sure my part-time jobs will form a strong part of my application and CV. For this, I am grateful to the Student Services and the International Admissions teams for giving me the opportunities to discover and develop highly transferable skills which will be highly beneficial not just at university but also in future job roles.
So international students- don’t worry when you see the “20 HOURS MAX” on your Biometric Permit. There are plenty of ways to improve your employability. And a good place to start would be right here, on our beautiful campus!
For campus-based role vacancies, be sure to check the SU website!