Joining the UK professions

This blog is about giving advice on how to get a job in the profession you have trained for. Its about throwing light on the path ahead.  Camila writes here of her experience of the UK system and how she got it to work for her. It’s full of practical advice. If you have a story about how joined your profession, please share it under comments


Camila’s story

This blog is about sharing lessons about what you need to do to work as a professional in the UK, there are great structures in the UK but you have to know about them and anyone coming from another country might just stumble across them.

My story is that I am a qualified to MSc level in a profession that has a serious skill shortage.  I now have a good job because I used all the support available but if I had understood the way it works, I might have done it quicker so here are the lessons I have learnt:

The advice below doesn’t apply if you are in the medical profession, there are different processes and sometimes more exams.

Most importantly, you need to know about UK NARIC. (  especially if you come from outside the European Union. This is a national agency which performs the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills on behalf of the UK Government.  NARIC looks at your qualifications in your country and issues a Statement of Compatibility which shows that your qualifications are equivalent to the ones in the UK.  Before you take your qualifications to NARIC, you need your certificates translated and it must be by an official translator. It charges you per page and if you contact some studies agencies you can find better prices and deals for the translations.

It’s also really worth joining your professional institution or association. For many jobs, you need to be a member of your professional institute. Take into account that in your profession you might have more than one professional institutions to join depending on the path you want to follow. In my case, because the Institute only met twice a year, they took a year to approve my membership. I should have joined as a student member as that would have speeded the process up.  Most institutes offer a library, training courses, a way of accrediting that you are still uptodate (the UK calls this Continuous Professional Development – CPD).  My institute also has a charity which is created to help its professionals to get a job in their field and they gave me advice on how to present my c.v., get ready for my interviews and more support so I learnt to focus on the areas that employers are looking for, rather than just presenting my qualifications and experience.

For many professions, universities organise industrial placements, these are opportunities to get some work experience so when you graduate you have both work experience and your qualifications.  Don’t miss out on these. You can only apply for placements when you are studying. You are no longer eligible once you have graduated.

Many colleges and universities offer short courses at quite a cheap rate. Sometimes, you might have a BSc and a MSc  but it’s the final piece in the jigsaw that gets you the job.

Finally, do some online searching of what the best jobs agencies or recruiters are in your field.  The larger online website to apply for jobs are CVLibrary and but many professions will have specialist agencies that should be well worth tapping into.

So my lesson is there are lots of routes out there into good jobs but it helps to know what they are!


Aiming for a goal



As we post more stories from people who have journeyed here from another country to live in the UK, one thing that really stands out is that it takes a lot of resilience to succeed and you need to be open to the world around you. Cristina Mascarreras writes here of how she followed her dream and how opportunity came in the most unexpected places.

Aiming for a goal keeps you moving’

One day, I was in Barcelona, working for an international retail firm and I decided that I wanted to go abroad for some personal and professional experience’. I wanted to be a creative interior designer rather than drawing someone else’s ideas. So that day, I set myself a goal and went out to make it happen.

I went to Prague for three months, staying at my friend’s place, to give myself time to think what I really want to be.  Also, thinking about morals, ethics and purpose. Can I have a job that I love and at the same time offer a value/gift to people?

I found a ‘design and built’ internship in Canning Town, London. The project was a cultural community space for the neighbourhood.  They accepted me as part of this project  and I had three days to pack my suitcase and fly to London.  I arrived on June 2013,  not knowing where I was going.  I didn’t have a place to stay or know anyone in the city.  I went around Bayswater and checked so many hostels and finally found a free bed.

For three months, I was surrounded by creative designers, I met people from all over the world and heard so many interesting stories that gave me so much inspiration and motivation.  We built a workshop, theatre, bar and garden for the community and that was a great first experience.

My plan was to go back home after this internship, but I started liking London.  I started looking for any job to be able to stay in this city. My first job was at Starbucks, and on my first day, I could not understand anything that the customers were saying: ‘Mafin, mufi, muffin….What’s that?’

After eight months working at Starbucks, I loved talking with my customers, the manager put me always on the till. And what did I do? I always talked about who I am or what I want to be, an Interior Designer.  After applying for so many jobs and being rejected because I don’t have experience in the UK, one of my regular customers said, ‘Cristina, we are looking for an Interior Designer’.

This is how everything started,  my next job, I was designing luxury apartments for 6 months, afterwards I moved to another job where I was designing schools for 6 months as well. None of those jobs were fulfilling, on the first job I was working 13-15 hours a day and the second job wasn’t creative.

I needed to move on again. I learnt that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have time to apply for jobs, you have to, even if you do it until 4 o’clock in the morning and work the next day. After the school job I was unemployed for 2 months. I had so many offers to be as assistant, a job that I did 4 years back. I said’NO’. the recruiters pressured me.  Don’t you want a temporary job? No, I know what I want.

If you don’t make the right call, you get in this unstoppable role of working crazy hours or doing jobs that you don’t like and they don’t get the best out of you meaning it’s not challenging for you.

Finally, I reached my goal.  I found that job I had in my mind every day.  I am now working for an  international firm where I can be creative and design projects in a lot of different sectors. My job is different and challenging all the time.

Anyway, life doesn’t stop. I have already set up more goals.