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Finding Employment in the UK

Student Journey / Student Information / New Students / International Pre-Arrival Guide / Working in the UK
Job interview shake hands

Finding Employment in the UK

At the University of Sunderland, we support our international students with all aspects of choosing a career, searching for jobs, gaining relevant experience, developing transferable skills, writing applications and preparing for interviews. We’re also here to support you if you’re interested in working for yourself after you graduate. We offer a wide range of support, including one-to-one appointments, group-work sessions, events and online resources. You’ll also find some of this support within your academic programme.

Working During Your Studies

Working while you study as an international student is a popular way to gain work experience and employers are increasingly interested in hearing how you have developed skills beyond the core components of your academic programme.

Every student who is granted a valid Student Route visa to study a full-time programme at the University of Sunderland should have a right to work while studying, however the working limits depend on the course you intend to study.

If you are studying for a qualification at degree level or above you can usually:

  • work up to 20 hours per week during term-time
  • work full-time during vacation periods and after your course has ended before your Student visa expires

We advise you to check your eligibility to work during your studies with the UK Council for Student Affairs (UKCISA), you can also check your BRP card as your working restriction(s) should be specified on there. There are also some types of work you must not do during your studies under your Student visa (e.g. work self-employed or start a business).

When you undertake paid work in the UK, you should earn the UK’s National Minimum Wage or more. In order to work in the UK you will need:

  • A UK bank account.
  • A National Insurance number. This is your personal account number for working in the UK. It ensures that any National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded.

Where to Search for a Part-time Job

Once you arrive at the University, you’ll have access to our vacancies portal which advertises part-time job opportunities on behalf of local employers and organisations. You’ll find part-time jobs and other work experience opportunities advertised on our portal as well as links to a range of other job search sources such as Indeed, Reed and TotalJobs. You can undertake part-time work on or off campus.

If you’d like some help with your job search, you’ll be able to talk to our team, via drop-ins and one-to-one appointments, to discuss the type of part-time work you’re looking for and develop a job search plan that is tailored to your needs. The University also holds an annual Student Jobs and Volunteering Fair every October, giving you the chance to meet local employers offering part-time job roles.

Gaining Experience During Your Studies

Finding a part-time job is just one way of gaining experience and developing your skills. The University offers an exciting range of additional opportunities you can access during your time as a student with us. These include:

  • Volunteering: Many students volunteer during their studies and this is highly regarded by employers as a fantastic way to develop your skills and experience. Upon arrival, you’ll have access to our vacancies portal which enables you to search for volunteering opportunities with a wide range of local organisations and charities.
  • Professional Insights Scheme: This is a mentoring scheme that allows you to meet real-world professionals and gain career insights into a specific industry, sector, or job role that interests you.
  • Internships: Our Changemaker Internships are open to current University of Sunderland students who are interested in taking on a paid project with a local SME (small and medium-sized enterprise), completing 100 hours of work alongside their studies.
  • Become a Student Ambassador: Student Ambassadors work part-time for the University. Hours are very flexible and there are usually paid opportunities throughout the year that you can fit around your course timetable.
  • SuPA: The Sunderland Professional Award (SuPA) recognises and rewards all the activities you’re involved in outside of your academic programme and supports you in understanding how to articulate the skills you’ve developed to employers.

Working in the UK After Your Studies

You might also be considering looking for work in the UK after your studies. Securing a graduate role in the UK is challenging and competitive for all students, so it will be important to start your search early and make use of the support available from the University.   

Things to think about:

  • Visa options: Visit the UKCISA website for a full list and detailed explanation of current visa options and guidance on applying. This includes information about the Graduate and Skilled Worker immigration routes. You can also speak to the University’s International Student Support team for further guidance.
  • Consider self-employment: Working for yourself is also an option if you’re looking to work in the UK after your studies. Our Entrepreneurial Development team is here to support students and graduates to start a freelance or self-employed career and can provide business advice, peer support and access to a co-working space.
  • Understanding UK graduate recruitment processes: It’s important to start your job search early and do your research. Many large employers who offer graduate programmes (sometimes known as graduate schemes or graduate training programmes) will recruit at the start of the Autumn term for roles beginning the following academic year. Other employers, particularly small and medium sized companies, will recruit year-round as roles become available. There are usually multiple stages in an employer’s recruitment process- from CV and application forms to video interviews. It’s very important to invest time at every stage of the application process. Think quality, not quantity when it comes to applications and ensure every application you make is tailored to the role you are applying for.
  • What makes you stand out?: As an international student, consider what sets you apart from other applicants in the job search process. Promote your unique selling points such as being multilingual, having a global perspective, having international work experience and commercial insight into regional markets. While your academic qualification is important, employers are increasingly interested in hearing what you have done beyond your course to develop your skills and experience.

Our Support

Once you arrive, there will be lots of support available from the University to help you find employment, both during and after your studies. We will work with you to support your career decision making, explore opportunities and help you make effective applications. You can use our full range of services throughout your time at the University and for three years after you graduate.

These include:

One-to-one support: Our team is here to support you throughout your studies- from making career plans, exploring self-employment, finding job opportunities, building contacts and providing application support, there’s lots we can help with! Once you’ve arrived, you’ll be able to drop in and speak with our team in the Gateway (City Campus) and Prospect Building (St Peter’s).

Employer Fairs and Events: We regularly organise events and recruitment fairs giving you the chance to meet employers who are interested in recruiting students from the University of Sunderland. Our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair takes place annually in November, an event that attracts over 70 top recruiters on-campus offering graduate job, placement, and internship opportunities. We also hold an annual Student Jobs and Volunteering Fair every October.

Workshops: We run regular workshops to help you understand how to search for opportunities and make successful applications. Workshops include ‘How to Write a Graduate CV’, ‘How to find a Graduate Job in the North East’, and we also run sessions on applying for jobs in the UK as an international student.

Online resources: We have a wealth of online resources which you can access 24/7 via our student portal. This enables you to browse job vacancies, sign up for events and complete online courses (pathways) to assist you when making applications and prepare you for life after graduation.