Even in the early stages of a Master's degree, the question of "What happens next?" looms large.
In a recent alumni survey, some students said they regretted not applying for work earlier, while others admitted that they put themselves under too much pressure to look for jobs too early in their programme.
People take up Master's study for a variety of different reasons, so it is understandable that advice on how to plan for the next step will differ. This section will offer some advice and links to resources available, but you will also be able to learn a lot from talking to others in the Imperial community, from PhD students to teaching fellows and academic staff.
The Careers Service
The College's Careers Service is a good port of call for support and guidance. It is located on level 5 of the Sherfield Building on the South Kensington Campus.
You will be able to attend a variety of careers fairs and events throughout the year, where you will meet potential employers. Staff within your department will also be able to provide advice on careers, and you will be able to book appointments with specialist consultants and placement advisors in your department or at the team's main office.
The Careers Service also provides resources such as careers libraries, case studies, publications, guides to pursuing further study, and advice on CV writing, interviewing and networking. Many of these are also available online.
Look out for their tailored publications, such as the Guide to Career Planning, or check out their website for further material.
You don’t have to be based at the South Kensington Campus to get advice or access to this material, as much of it is online. Look out for our tailored publications, such as the Guide to Career Planning, which could inspire you to start exploring your options. To help you find out about potential employers and employment sectors, you can search through our web pages on careers, occupations and job sectors.
Business School Students should note that they have access to a separate Careers and Professional Development Service which is based on Level 2 of the Central Library Building.
The recruitment cycle
When planning your future career, it is important to be aware of the recruitment cycle for graduate roles. Many major organisations start their undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment process early, so you may need to start meeting employers and applying for roles as you arrive.
The Careers Service offers a series of events from October into the summer which will put you in touch with employers at forums, talks and careers fairs. Employers are keen to recruit from Imperial, as they value the students here. To maximise your chances of success, consider applying for the majority of opportunities from late September to early spring.
Help with applications and your CV
When applying for roles, you will often be required to complete company application forms, or submit a CV and cover letter. Ensure you keep your CV updated, and take advantage of the information and advice from the Careers Service to make sure your application is the best it can be.
The hidden job market and networking
Not all opportunities are publicly advertised. Therefore, it is important to develop and make use of your personal networks and contacts to access 'the hidden job market'.
Consider small businesses and organisations that may not have the budget to advertise widely, and approach them speculatively with a well-crafted CV and cover letter. Networks such as LinkedIn are also used by recruiters to fill off-cycle or short-notice vacancies. Find out more on the Networking page and consult the Finding Opportunities section.
Further study beyond your Master's
You should also get in touch with the Careers Service if you are looking into continuing your studies beyond your Master's degree. There is a section on the Careers Service website devoted to this, which should be a good starting point.
You can also visit the Progressing to a PhD section of the Success Guide.
The Careers Service offers a range of alumni case studies to those seeking career inspiration, outlining how former students have progressed and how they reached their goal.
If you are an international student, remember to check your visa requirements to find out what options are open to you.
You will need to be aware of UK immigration rules if you are intending to stay in the UK at the end of your course. Imperial has a team of experienced international student advisors based in the International Student Support team, who can provide up-to-date immigration advice. This team run a number of ‘Working after Studies’ immigration workshops throughout the academic year.
Look out for information about sessions and events, and refer to our online guidance about working in the UK.