Graduate Blog

Exceptionality and Opportunism: Do You Have What it Takes?


As an international student coming to the UK, I have a tier 4 visa—but if I am to find employment, I require a tier 2 visa.

To obtain a tier 2 visa according to Penningtons Solicitors LLP (a top 100 law firm), one needs completion of a UK degree, a minimum employer payment of £20,000 threshold, £800 proof of personal funding (graduating employees appear exempt from Resident Labour Market Test); if meeting these, and (possibly other) UKBA requirements: 1. The company can assign an unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship, 2. The applicant then submits a leave to remain application to the UKBA, and 3. On approval, the applicant can commence full time work. (*Disclaimer: I cite their website, rules are subject to change and I am not advising nor am I an expert in immigration matters whatsoever).

It’s easier said than done, having filled out seven hundred applications.

Of those, 250 receive replies, 100 reject automatically due to lack of European Union/European Economic Area citizenship, leaving 150. Of those 150, you receive one Skype interview from Switzerland, another international Skype interview, an in-person interview in England, and LinkedIn network requests and phone correspondence from various agencies.

Others tentatively express hesitant interest in this foreign newcomer—who is she, what does she want, and from whence did she emerge?

One automatically assumes—if you have an Ivy League degree, a three-year Juris Doctor degree, are conversationally fluent in three languages, and have interned at world-famous regulatory agencies, life would be easy upon receipt of an LL.M at a highly-renowned British institution. Not so, not so. You need more. You must be extraordinary.

Do you have what it takes—what it really takes—to succeed in this unknown territory?

1.       Exceptionality

Achieve high marks, be well-acquainted with your professors, and be the best at everything you do. Everyone is a potential competitor, and you must realise you are competing with others who already have an easier time as they have EU citizenship or EEA citizenship and can accept a job far more readily with much less paperwork. You must demonstrate to employers you are an exceptional, loyal, diligent candidate many times over.

2.       Opportunism

Take advantage of every opportunity. Whilst in England, I have been a student government representative, an unofficial photographer, a photography blogger, and have attended many meet-and-greet events. Do more than schoolwork—go out and take action, and make a difference in other people’s lives, no matter how large or small the task.

3.       Networking

Network with potential employers in person, through professors, fellow students (their parents may know someone who corresponds with an executive in your field, true story!), LinkedIn, Twitter (or or Xing for those based in Austria or other Germanic countries). Send applications in English, French, or whatever language you have at your disposal. Apply to the positions matching your skillset, yet be ever-flexible in the career path you choose. Anything can happen.

4.       Serenity

Meditate. Stay calm. Keep exercising, eat healthy, maintain personal relationships, and know that this too shall pass. Write a journal (or if pressed for time, a photography journal of one photo a day). Think about your personal goals and bucket list for the next five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years.

Take note of all you have accomplished thus far, and keep your friends close. You are amazing, you are determined, and with luck, ambition, and heaps of optimism, you will do excellently in life.

About the Author

Laura Pang Laura Pang

My name is Laura; I hail from across the pond--Washington, DC, USA. I completed my studies at a Russell University institution based in England. At university, I was the LL.M EHLP representative. I am the creator of the blog "ce cœur bohème" which details my journey across the world.

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