Working in the UK

If you’re an international student you may plan to work in the UK either during your studies or following graduation. The information below outlines the ways in which you can do this.

We cannot provide advice on your eligibility to work in the UK. If you have a question about your immigration status or would like advice on applying for a visa please contact the Student Immigration Manager who can provide advice and information. See our information page on visas.

Our leaflet about who can work in the UK is full of practical information about working in the UK and the recruitment process.

National Insurance

Everyone who works in the UK needs a National Insurance (NI) number. This is used to ensure that any National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded.

To apply for an NI number, contact the National Insurance Office on 0345 600 0643. They will either post you an application form to fill in, or ask you to attend a brief interview to prove your eligibility to work in the UK. The length of time it takes to get an NI number can vary, so we recommend telephoning the National Insurance Office as soon as you start looking for work. Visit for more detailed information about National Insurance.

Work restrictions and regulations

You may have restrictions on the number of hours you can work and the type of work that you can do while you study. It’s your responsibility to check any restrictions before applying for jobs. The Careers Service is not authorised to give any advice on work permits and visas. Please contact the Student Immigration Manager who can provide advice and information. 

Finding a part-time job

While studying at university you may wish to gain a part-time job. This can provide you with:

  • extra money
  • allow you to meet new people and get to know the local community
  • enhance your CV by gaining the skills that graduate employers seek, including time-management, leadership, team-working and communication.

See part-time job vacancies on TARGETconnect.

Work experience and internships

In the UK, all employers value relevant work experience. Internships are typically undertaken in your summer vacation and can be paid or unpaid. We only promote paid internship opportunities on TARGETconnect. You can also read the work experience and internships section of our website for more information.

Staying to work after graduation?

Would you like to stay in the UK to work after graduation? There are two primary routes for gaining graduate employment in the UK:  

  • Graduate training schemes
  • Direct entry into a job after graduation 

If you decide to do this you’ll need to think about your visa and this will require some planning. Go to our visa information.

How to find work

Graduate Training Schemes

Many large organisations in the UK offer graduate training schemes as the entry route for graduates. These organisations can be national and multinational, private or public sector organisations. They usually offer a structured 1-3 year training programme that’ll allow you to experience many aspects of both the role and the organisation as a whole. On some training schemes there will also be the opportunity to gain qualifications.

Direct Entry
Upon graduation, you may be able to apply for a position that doesn’t form part of a graduate scheme. This is known as direct entry and may occur because the:

  • employer is a small company
  • role requires specialist skills
  • position arises outside of the main graduate recruitment cycle
  • company requires an experienced professional

Direct entry roles can occur at any time of year; however, employers would expect you to start straight after the recruitment process, so these positions would be unsuitable to apply for if you’re still in the process of completing your degree.

When to apply

Many graduate schemes follow a recruitment cycle, where they advertise vacancies in the autumn term of the final year of study, for graduates to commence employment the following autumn. Some graduate schemes are advertised very early, e.g. in September with a closing date in November, so it’s a good idea to start researching early. Some graduate recruiters advertise positions all year round.

Get more information on finding a job.

Application advice

The recruitment process will depend on the type of role you’re applying for. Roles at smaller organisations typically have a two-stage process of a written application followed by an interview. Many graduate schemes have a multiple-stage process, which may contain some or all of the following:

  • A written/online application form or a CV and covering letter.
  • Psychometric or aptitude test.
  • A preliminary interview, which may be conducted over the telephone.
  • An assessment centre. This is often one of final stages in the selection process and may involve a series of individual and group exercises testing different competencies.
  • A face-to-face interview.

The format and style of your CV should be adapted depending on the requirements of the employer and the country.
If you're a student applying for your first job, you may be interested in further application guidance. You can also book a careers appointment to speak to one of our Careers Consultants directly.

Contact the Careers Service

You can contact us via TARGETconnect.

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