Standing out to employers isn’t easy. When there are over a million international students in the US in 2017 alone, it can be hard to find something that makes you unique after you graduate.
But if you’re passionate about your career and want a challenge, completing a year in industry can give you this edge.
Essentially, a year in industry is a year that you take out of your studies to work at a company, social enterprise or charity to complement your program. If you’re studying engineering, your university may offer a year working in an associated engineering firm. Other MSc students may take a year out to complete research, and arts and humanities students may find a media or charity organization that can offer field experience that complements their course.
Most universities that offer these courses require you to apply for your year in industry during the initial application stage or the first year of your studies. Speak to your university’s admission services to make sure you are eligible for this type of program.
Studying abroad is itself a tick for employers but industry experience, especially when it’s in a foreign country, will be what gives you that much-needed edge on other job hunters. How many graduates can claim in their CVs to understand a country’s work culture or to have already built a good network of industry contacts?
Lots of employers worry about hiring fresh graduates because of their lack of workplace know-how. Combine this with language or cultural barriers that international students may face and it’s easy to see why many get lost in the sea of thousands of other graduates entering the job market at the same time.
With a year in industry to your name, though, you wouldn’t need to convince your new employer how good a hire you’d be – you could just provide them a reference and they could verify it for themselves.
“It really does show that extra bit of motivation that all employers are looking for,” said Sally Bishop, a recruitment manager based in the UK, speaking to Study International.
“Any employer would rather hire someone who they know will be able to handle the pressures of the working world and has a reference to back them up,” she added.
You also have an opportunity to make contacts for when you graduate, and perhaps find a company willing to help fund your visa after you are no longer on a student visa.
Not every country allows international students to stay and work after graduation, but if you are studying in New Zealand, Canada or Australia, it can really help to have an employer fighting your visa corner for you.
“I learned so much about how to act in a corporate environment that would have been totally overwhelming to have to learn on my first job after university,” Simon Rappit, an Indian Business Management graduate from Victoria University of Wellington told Study International.
Thanks to his year working in a multinational corporation, he said he now understands how to act in a global business environment, something many international students struggle with.
“The experience of working at this company gave me lots to talk about in interviews that most students don’t have. I knew what employers are looking for because I’ve done similar jobs before.
“I could show I’ve ‘walked the walk’ not just ‘talked the talk’.”
While not every university offers the option to work in industry for a year, you will be able to find out if its possible from your university’s admission services.