Careers Service

Vera (Zhongyi Qian): Assistant teacher

  • Degree: MA Languages and Cultures (research route) (2014)
  • Home country: China
  • Now working: Moscow
  • My role now: Assistant Teacher at The International School of Moscow

My story

My first part time job was as a waitress in a restaurant. I came to Manchester in the beginning of September when most students haven’t been back so it was relatively easy to get a job. I literally carried my CV with me and walked along Oxford Road searching for restaurants with recruit advertisement. I was lucky enough to get employed when I entered the first restaurant as it was a newly open one which was searching for part-time waitresses. Although I didn’t work for a long time, it did help me gain confidence of communication skills.

Gain confidence…even facing disappointment

I had been job hunting for the whole year of my master degree, either online or by recruitment fairs. Although disappointment kept coming, by keeping updating my CV and preparing for the phone interviews, I became more and more self-confident and finally prepared for face-to-face interviews when it came.

Make the most of the recruitment fairs

Every time I attended one recruitment fair, with the idea to be proactive, I always contacted the company by phone next day, introduced my interest of applying for the organisation and asked for suggestions. You can get tips about how to start such conversation from The Careers Service. This nice guy met up with me and gave many helpful suggestions, and literally became my contact for the company. Although I didn’t work for this company, the experience itself was brilliantly helpful as it made job hunting in the UK seem not as difficult.

Social networking was important to get my current job

At last I applied for and got employed for my current job, it was informed by my school and suitable for my degree of languages and cultures. My classmates, and advisors offered me the opportunity directly and my nice friends kept feeding me latest information and more importantly, they back me up and give me spirit support.

My time in Manchester

Keep trying, reaching out of my comfort zone!

I would not say that I am better than other Chinese students, I may be just braver to take a favour of new stuff in my life. For example, I tried to take part in the Students’ Union’s elections with the hope of working as a Student Rep while study during my one year here. To be frank, I’m not that kind of out-going student who can promote themselves, and the progression election was by no mean an easy job for me. I put my posters around the campus, I established and edited my own Facebook page, had interviews with university radio and promoted myself both on the street and in restaurants. Although the final result was not so satisfying, I learnt a lot from my engagement. I used to talk with students on the street and tried to promote my campaign in 20 seconds, the experience itself was valuable as it developed your communications and language skills and also make you more open-minded. The most valuable part in everything is the process rather than the results. The feeling of disappointment will diminish as time goes on, but the skills and competencies will grow stronger the next time.

The Careers Service is of great help

They organised many job-hunting sessions in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. The most impressive one in my opinion is the “Job Search” presentation by Natalie Walsh, it totally changed my idea about job hunting in the UK. The tips Natalie introduced are useful, the core of what she said is “be proactive”. You must be ready to sell yourself in 30 seconds at any time; you must be proactive to talk with your friends, your family about your career wish, in case they can offer you helpful information; you must be able to provide good impression to employers in the recruitment fair; you must learn how to send emails / make calls to people you don’t know for information. The career sessions also introduced how to positively use your social media: I got inspired to edit and prepare my LinkedIn profile with no efforts spared. Surprisingly there were indeed employers contacting with me through LinkedIn.

The Careers Service also helped me tweak my CV and offered useful handbooks with lots of extremely useful suggestions, especially the advice and template for covering letters. As I found the job hunting in the UK totally different from it back in China, it was The Careers Service helped me update my job-hunting strategies.

Suggestions for other students

Make the most of Manchester and make the most of the university. Use the Careers Service and the Learning Essentials presentations organised in the Learning Commons, and there is also free support service for you essay in language centre. Grab opportunities and try new things.

You may face challenges, but don’t be afraid!

The first and biggest challenge for international students is to find the job with visa sponsorship. My solution is to work in a third country (neither UK nor China), as there are actually loads of opportunities to work abroad. I used to have the wish of staying in the UK but found that the opportunity of working in a totally different country would also be brilliant.

Another challenge in my opinion would be reaching out your comfort zone and adapt yourself to English cultures and working environment to which you can’t simply apply the ideas and strategies you developed in your home country. For example, British employers would like to favour more confident and optimistic candidates.

Another challenge, or problem, is “a lack of direction”. Some international students don’t have specific targets and plans, they always have the idea like “let’s try first, if I cannot get a job in the UK, I can still go back home.” Either way for them is okay, so they don’t set a absolute direction for themselves, then they just won’t spare no efforts due to a lack of direction. If you had planned before coming it would be great for you to make the most of experience here.