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Top things for final-year overseas students to do before graduation

Build your networks

The author Charlie Lawson said that a good relationship can happen any time and anywhere. All the people that you meet while studying abroad, be it lecturers, seniors, classmates or neighbors where you live can be potential relationships that should be nurtured.

You should be aware of the reasons for establishing a relationship: Are you looking for a mentor in your field of study? Are you looking for a job when you graduate or to find a friend with the same passion and interests?

Relationships you should build

Teachers in schools

The fastest way to connect with teachers at your school is to meet them on campus. Don't hesitate to talk to your instructor after class to ask questions about your lessons, or make an appointment with them to get advice on your course of study.

Alumni in the same field

The alumni of the school are valuable connections from whom you can learn subject experience and skills in the easiest way. While in school, try to connect with seniors or people who have graduated and are working in your favorite fields to help you better understand the career you want to pursue. One of the easiest ways to meet alumni is to connect with them through Linkedin.

Friends with similar interests and passions

It is entirely possible for friendships made abroad to last a lifetime. Making like-minded friends to spend the years studying abroad with will help you have a more memorable life experience and they can also be a valuable support network ​​​​when you live away from home.

Actively participate in clubs or events on campus to make the most of the opportunity to get to know both international and local students. This is also a chance for you to be exposed to many different cultures from around the world.

Download course materials and tap into your school’s resources

At international universities, students often have access to soft copy documents. So make sure you download all course materials from your school's system for future use before the school deactivates your account. Move important emails from your school email account to your personal email account if you need to.

These documents will be very useful if you need to refer to any knowledge related to your field of study in the future.

Also, connect with a career counselor at your school for help with finding a job after graduation. These consultants can help you with everything from your CV and conducting mock interviews to increase your odds of being offered a job.

After graduation, don't forget that you can still tap into your school's resources through alumni events and even job fairs.

Apply for an internship before graduation

The best time for students to do an internship is in around the last 2 years of studying. An internship is an opportunity for personal development as well as to learn how to meet the needs of the industry. Hence, even though your study schedule is tight, it’s a really good idea to take the time to get to know the real working environment outside of university.

If your application for internships hasn’t been successful yet, don't lose heart, because it's all a part of the process. The idea is to feel so comfortable crafting résumés and meeting with prospective employers - whether in person or virtually - that you'll ace your dream job interview when the time comes.

Update and polish your CV/résumé

Your CV or résumé is an important factor that employers consider when deciding whether you are a suitable candidate or not. Start learning how to build your CV before you graduate, so you're ready to apply for jobs when you do. 

What information should be included in a CV?

Full name and contact information

The first part of your CV should clearly state your name and you can add a personal picture if you want to. Any photo on the CV must be presented in a professional manner. With contact information, you should include your personal phone number and email address as these are the 2 most common ways employers will contact you.

Personal statement

This is a short paragraph just below your name and contact information. In this part, you need to mention your career goals and briefly introduce yourself. You will adjust this section to suit each different role you apply for. Make sure to detail the skills and experience you have to offer the company. 

Education

You should arrange your education in reverse chronological order. That is, you should list the latest information first, and then work backwards.

You need to mention the name of the school or institute and the year(s) you studied there, then the degrees or qualifications and grades you obtained.

Experience

This is the part where employers will evaluate your professional competence. You can arrange your roles in reverse chronological order like your education, or put the work experience that is most relevant to the position you're applying to at the top.

You need to include the following information in this section: organization name; the position you held; the length of time you have worked here and a description of the position. You should use bullet points to describe your main responsibilities, skills, and accomplishments in each role.

References

This is the section where you will leave contact information of people who can prove that what you write in your CV is true as well as clearly state your skills and abilities if the employer contacted them. These people can be teachers, managers or colleagues.

Take care of your well-being

University life can be exciting with many memorable experiences but can also be very tough with many challenges, especially for final-year students. So, if you’re a final-year student, you should know how to take good care of your physical and mental health so that you can make the most of your time.

Three things you need to do to stay physically and mentally healthy: rest, live healthily, and have fun.

Rest

For a final year student, it’s understandable that you may forget to take time to rest when there are so many things to worry about. However, make sure you take some time out of your day to relax by turning off electronic devices. You could read a book, listen to music, take a nap or go for a walk to help relieve stress.

Live healthily

Get into the habit of getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. This will help your body recover and relieve stress. Lack of sleep can cause the body to lose strength, causing difficulty to concentrate and mood swings.

In addition, you should eat enough nutrients - don’t let being busy make you reach for fast food or unsafe dishes.

Have fun

You need to find joy in what you do. Studying abroad gives you many opportunities to experience new things. Don't hesitate to put yourself out of your comfort zone to explore new interests. Record your favorite activities and try to maintain them to put yourself in a good mood every day.

Consider a post-study work visa

Are you heading back home after graduation or staying put to look for work? Check your visa restrictions before your study visa expires and give yourself ample time to prepare for applications and submissions.

If you’re studying full time in the UK, then you might know that you can work for up to 20 hours on a student visa (previously called the Tier 4 visa). Only 6% of students are aware that, as of summer 2020, they can stay on for 2 years after graduating following the reinstatement of the post-study work (PSW) visa2. In Canada, graduates can apply for a PSW visa that allows them to work for up to 3 years.

In the US, students can apply for the post-graduate Optional Practical Training programme. This allows them to work for 12 months in temporary employment in a field related to their studies.

With any immigration or visa issue, students are advised to plan ahead. Again, don't forget to make your university's career services office the first stop for information.

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Start your own business

If you can't find your dream job, why not create it by starting up your own business? Bill Gates enrolled at Harvard University to study law. Two years later, he was persuaded by friend and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to leave university to start up what is now a billion-dollar business. We're not telling you to drop out of school, but success doesn't always follow a straight line.

Even small enterprises need to get their finances in order before starting a business. Make sure you speak to HSBC Business Banking first to find out how we can help. 

Build your portfolio

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a document, or collection of documents, that showcases the work you have done while studying and working. When it comes to job applications, we always focus on CVs. But if you want to stand out from other candidates and help employers better understand your skills, you can attach your portfolio along with your CV. In some fields, a portfolio is also a mandatory requirement from the employer.

How do I create my own portfolio?

There are no set rules for creating a portfolio, but you should definitely make yours available in soft copy. That way potential employers can view it easily and possibly even forward it to others who may have the right job for you.

You can be creative with your portfolio and add testimonials, blogs, photos, social media links or videos, as long as they are relevant to the jobs you are applying for. Always keep your portfolio up to date and check it for errors regularly.

Make memories

Going to university, especially abroad, is also about having fun and making the most of the experience. Get swept up in school spirit and support your university's sports team. Join a social club, go on a road trip, and explore your host country. These could be the best years of your life.

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