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Being an International Student on Placement

By Georgi Ivanov on Wed 20 October 2021 in Placement Blog

Being an International Student on Placement

Check out Georgi's blog on his experience of being an International Student during the recruitment process for a placement.

Initially, you may think that doing a placement as an international student in a country that doesn’t speak your first language is stressful or intimidating, but I can tell you from experience this is not the reality! Whether you’re an international student or not, the whole process from applying for a placement, to doing interviews and all the way through to the first day of placement is largely the same as it is for every other applicant. 

One of the first – and by far easiest – things you can do to save yourself a headache later on is getting your National Insurance Number early. It’s likely that if you haven’t worked in the UK, you don’t already have one of these. Before I explain how easy this is to sort, I just want to reassure you that this isn’t something to stress about. I was able to begin my placement year even before it arrived, but from experience, it’d be a lot less stressful if you had it sorted ahead of time! My experience as an EU citizen who already applied for a visa under the EU Settlement scheme meant that all I had to do to get my NI number was fill out a form and mail this alongside my passport. Bear in mind that in the current COVID-19 climate makes this stuff take much longer than normal – around approx. 16 weeks at the moment! So, I’d strongly recommend you apply sooner rather than later.   

If you’re not an EU citizen, here’s a link on how best to apply for your National Insurance number using a passport from any country, a biometric residence permit (BRP) or a national identity card from the countries that are listed. 

Then, it comes to trying to secure your placement. At the moment, I’m taking a lead role in reviewing applications for our Software Development placement role – your CV and Cover Letter are really important to get right. Take a look at this blog, written by fellow ProspectSoft placement, Will, who outlines some of the key do’s and don’ts when applying for placement opportunities. The CV and Cover Letter are normally the company’s very first impression of you, so proof reading is critical – particularly if English isn’t your first language. 
 
Securing a placement is not plain sailing – but this isn’t unusual. To put you at ease, here are a few insights I discovered along the way that I hope you find useful! 

I began applying for placements relatively early in the year – getting ahead is great, as long as you don’t focus on quantity over quality! I quickly realised that sending out application after application one after another was getting me nowhere. Instead, I began personalising my CV and my Cover Letter to the role I was applying for. Putting in just this little bit of extra effort and can really sway the odds in your favour. To demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the company, I’d recommend delving into things like the company history, culture and employee/student reviews.  

Next, it’s the interviews and Assessment Centres. I can distinctly remember an interview where I really hadn’t prepared enough, and it was evident. Within minutes, I received a rejection email, and this was a real eye opener for me. The employer is giving you their time, so it’s respectful and right to prepare adequately. Taking rejection as a learning curve is also critical – you can let them either shatter your morale or use this as motivation to move forwards positively and action feedback properly.  

So, if you’re an international student looking for a placement, you can do it! There’s really nothing to be worried about – if you take my advice on board, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pursue a year in industry and gain that invaluable experience that can set you up for a successful career upon graduation! 
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Feeling inspired? Take a look at our dedicated placement blog here for more!  

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