Almost exactly one year ago, our MSc International Health Management course director said that our time at Imperial would be over before we knew it. Of course, she was saying this on the first day of Welcome Week when everyone was an unfamiliar face and 15 group projects, 10 exams, and the most feared of all, the Accounting module, hung in the air. To say the least, I felt like I had all the time in the world (or at least I needed all the time in the world to accomplish coursework). However, as I look at my 2016 planner and turn the page to October, I realise that the forewarning was accurate and that the time has gone by faster this past year than any other period of my life.
Approaching this closing chapter, my international classmates and I have wrestled with the question of staying in London longer, returning home, or venturing to a new city altogether. From a personal perspective, many of us do not feel ready to leave yet. Although I have had adventures all over the city and am chipping away at what was originally a 50 item long bucket list and is now over 100 items, there is still so much more that I want to do in London. If you are facing this dilemma (or are part of the new IHM cohort and will soon face this dilemma), here are some points to consider…
First off, there is no time like the present. If you think you will ever want to work in London, now is the time to do it. You are in a great position with Careers Service at your doorstep, the Imperial name on your CV, and company offices just a tube ride away. In fact, I first spoke with recruiters from my future workplace at a Finance and Consulting Careers Fair at Imperial and was easily able to attend information sessions and interviews at the company’s offices near St. Paul’s. Plus, if you’re looking for a flatmate, you now have (give or take) 50 international friends to choose from… just ask one of your IHM classmates!
Secondly, staying in London and having international work experience is not only great for your CV but actually required for many job positions relating to the field of international or global health. While writing my Personal Career Journey report last month, I discovered that a prerequisite for specific positions at the World Health Organization is international work experience. Additionally, both of the health management leaders that I interviewed had worked in multiple countries throughout their careers. With all of the syndicate group experience, you will be more prepared than you realise to collaborate with international colleagues. Relating to co-workers of different professional and cultural backgrounds than yourself and with various working styles is an essential skill that Imperial helps you develop.
Third, if you are fortunate enough to have the right to work in the UK or be sponsored by a company, then you should consider taking advantage of this opportunity. Not as many companies sponsor as you would assume. If you do happen to find a company that you like and that is eager to sponsor you, then you need to seriously consider this offer—especially if you are assigned to a great division or team within that the company. I have heard it again and again from my friends who have already made the transition from university to the professional world that company culture, excellent supervisors, and the fit within a team is everything in the workplace!
Finally, as a famous Brit once stated, “There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” Even if you are missing home and are unsure of whether to stay, working in London for a year or staying in this vibrant city a bit longer to figure things out is perfectly fine. You don’t have to stay in London for the rest of your life, just try it out and see how things go. After all, a year goes by fast!