We have had a few queries this term asking if you should pay for career coaching services from commercial organisations targeting international students. Since the abolition of the Tier 1 Post Study Work visa in 2012, more and more of these organisations have sprung up. They offer different ranges of services but they are mainly focused on trying to help international students who want to stay in the UK (long or short term), by offering dedicated support to understand and navigate the UK recruitment market successfully.
So, should you pay for their services?
We will start by saying we have had no negative feedback from our students about any company working in this way, and during the year we host a couple of these companies who want to visit to do presentations.
Things to think about
These companies charge a lot of money – up to, and in excess of, £5,000 in some cases. We would urge you to think very carefully before you part with such a huge sum.
Taking into account that for the whole of the UK only around 2% of international students manage to switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2, you should weigh up if it’s likely that you will be part of that 2%. We don’t know what percentage of this 2% were helped into their positions by a career coaching company, but this is an important question to ask: What is your success rate?
Other important questions to ask a provider:
- in your experience, what factors impact on success?
- does my degree discipline give me any advantage? Is it in demand?
- what kind of guarantees, if any do you offer?
- what exactly do I get for my money?
- what happens if I want to withdraw from your programme at any point?
- if you felt I had little hope of success would you be honest and tell me before taking my money? How often do you do this?
- can you put me in touch with some successful candidates so I can talk to them 1 – 1
And a question to ask yourself:
- have I explored all the free options for careers support that I can access first?
- do I feel I will get something of real value?
- last week we offered our free Assessment Centre simulator and we have similar events coming up in weeks 8/9. We also have online and print material to support you with assessment tests – verbal/numerical reasoning etc. There is also free to access material on YouTube to help you practice these
- we have online tools to help you focus on your strengths and identify your skills – and how these relate to the job market – plus the chance to talk through your options with a Careers Consultant
- you can access CV/cover letter/application reviews, and the chance to take part in a mock interview to practice your technique and get feedback
- we have Information on Tier 2 sponsors and general information and advice for international students looking for work in the UK plus this online blog specifically dealing with issues international students face
- we can put you in touch with York graduates working in industry so you can find out about recruitment practices – and they can even become a mentor
- we can advise on how to research companies effectively and lots more
Some of these companies offer internships – often timed to fit into the 4 months at the end of your degree which we know is attractive to many of you – the chance to get UK work experience that you can do on your existing Tier 4 visa. Again the charges for these are high so check out exactly what support you will get, what guarantee do you have of success? Will you be offered something that you cannot access yourself for free? Have you checked out our resources for international students?
It is important to check out the quality of the internships on offer:
- what is your employment contract and are your rights protected?
- will you be paid?
- is this experience going to be valuable to your future career
- is it a real opportunity for learning?
- are these genuine opportunities for good quality work experience – is there a chance to work longer term for these clients on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa?