Any other full-time Americans university students in the UK trying to find a job?

I was wondering if anyone had any advice regarding the best way to secure a position in the CRE investment industry if one is an American national studying at a UK university. Even though it is illegal for employers to discriminate against you based on your nationality, everyone does (either explicitly or implicitly). Thus, there are tremendous headwinds trying to secure a role in the UK. Meanwhile, I am not in the US to network and apply to jobs, so it is really difficult to get any traction with your applications.

I am currently an MSc student in London. What do people recommend? Drop out of my course and start pounding the pavement in the US? Finish my degree then move back to the US? Or just try to overcome the visa issues?

Thanks!

p.s. if anyone is wondering why I shot myself in the foot. I am largely in the UK for personal reasons (i.e., girlfriend)...

Comments (10)

Dec 11, 2018

A friend of mine got her visa sponsored by a Big 4. I can ask her how the process was if you want.

Dec 11, 2018
Marcus Furius Camillus:

Drop out of my course and start pounding the pavement in the US?

Definitely don't do this

Dec 11, 2018

PM - I navigated this process in the last year as an American abroad.

Dec 11, 2018

I know that the big4/BBs/Most large firms having a graduate program will sponsor visas.

Dec 11, 2018

Feel free to PM me. I had a similar background as an MSc student in London.

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Dec 11, 2018

@Merchant_of_Debt & @CRESEA - it would actually be pretty interesting for the community if you were to explain your processes / answer questions either here or in your own AMA thread instead of PMs. I know that I, for one, would read it.

Dec 11, 2018

I would as well

Most Helpful
Dec 11, 2018

@CRE' I just typed out a whole detailed story but it didn't get posted. So I will post an abbreviated version of it and answer questions individually.

Essentially, I graduated undergrad in 3 years but wanted to go into academia. My advisers were Urban Economists and I was interested in going the same direction. I ended up applying to a top Master's program in the UK since it was a 1 year program. While there, I didn't network too heavily but ended up getting a summer internship offer at a large REPE group in NY. I declined the offer to focus on my dissertation. None of the big brokerages (CBRE, DTZ, Colliers & others) or REPE shops I ran across were willing to sponsor visas. They would openly inquire during phone interviews about my citizenship status in the EU. After disclosing that I had a US citizenship, they would tell me that it was a non-starter. One firm really liked me and tried to figure out a scheme where i would be officially listed as working in the US office but would work out of the EU office instead. That scheme did not pass through legal/compliance.

My advice would be to network with large BB banks and their RE groups since they seem to be the only RE groups who sponsor visas. If that fails, move back in with family and pound the pavement until you land a job in the US. Most importantly, take advantage of your opportunity abroad to have the most fun humanly possible. It's a golden opportunity.

    • 2
Dec 12, 2018

My situation was somewhat different but can still offer some advice on Visas in the UK as just went through this. I did undergrad in Canada and then an Oxbridge one year masters. Because I am Canadian, I had the option of coming in on a two year Youth Mobility Visa so I told employers that this is what I would use during the interview process. In the end I managed to get sponsored instead. It's tricky right now but doable. A couple of points:

  1. Your goal is a Tier 2 Visa, which is the normal sponsored visa. There are big advantages to switching to this while you have your student status. I can't post links because I am new but the Cambridge Uni International Student site outlines them really well. Basically you are exempt from a bunch of tests, costs and a massive minimum salary requirement.
  2. Your student visa likely has a grace period on the end in order for you to find a job and switch to a Tier 2 Visa (my Tier 4 student visa had 6 months). It is very important to stay in the UK during this grace period, as if you leave, you might be denied entry when you try to get back in. Ultimately it is up to the border guard or whatever they are called here but the visa lawyer at my company advised me to play it safe and not to leave. If you are denied entry, you lose the student status referenced above and sponsorship becomes almost impossible.
  3. Do a quick check on whether a company has a sponsorship License before you apply. Again can't post links but the UK Gov site has a pdf called: register of licensed sponsors workers. This should list every company that is able to sponsor in the UK.
  4. Stay away from any brokerage/surveyor roles - none of them will sponsor so don't waste time applying.
  5. Sponsorship costs the company - about PS3k for a three year visa after legal fees. This can be a good negotiating point if you are able to secure multiple offers. Pay negotiation is often perceived negatively at entry level here but employers that I spoke to were willing to move on sponsorship.
  6. Target Banks, Big Four or PE funds with a decent size (30+ employees). These are more likely to sponsor.
  7. If you are unable to find a full time role, you can do an internship during the grace period at the end of your visa. Try to find an internship that you can turn into a full time role with sponsorship if you perform as part of the deal.

In the end I had an offer from a bank and a developer and was in the final round with another developer as well as a PE fund. Both the first developer and the PE fund offered to sponsor so it is possible!

Good Luck

Dec 12, 2018
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