Navigating the London tech scene can initially be an incredibly daunting task, especially for a intern or co-op student looking to go abroad. Tech in London has undergone incredible growth recently, and the field is booming. Jobs are abundant, but, London companies are looking for specific skills and mindsets – even in new hires.
How to move?
Moving to a foreign country isn’t easy but luckily, the United Kingdom and Canada retain very close Commonwealth ties. If you are under 35 and a Canadian citizen you likely qualify for the T5 – Youth Mobility Scheme Visa. This Visa allows you to work most any position in the United Kingdom for up to two years without a work sponsor. If you are interested in interning or completing your co-op here, this is your best option. The application process is straightforward and simple, but with Brexit impending, there is a good chance that things may change.
What resources are available?
There are quite a few resources out thee for finding positions in the tech field in London. Most positions are either unpaid (technically “volunteer”), but I wouldn’t settle for one of these – especially given the incredibly high cost of living in London. Even a small room in a tiny flat is often over $1000 Canadian. You should be able to find an internship (often a short-term contract of 4 months which Canadian Universities will recognize as an internship) that pays a monthly salary of 1000-1500 GBP.
To best portray your skills to employers, be sure to convert your North American style resume to the more standard Europeans CV. This will prevent your application from being “binned”. I also highly, highly, suggest obtaining visa approval before applying. Without the right to work in the United Kingdom you will not be able to find work – there are enough potential employees who already have the right to work, so making things easier for potential employers will increase your odds substantially.
There are a variety of places to look for internships. Here are the two top ones that I recommend:
- Work In Startups: Work In Startups is your number one resource for finding positions. Most startups in the tech scene (and in other industries) use this as their primary resource for posting positions and finding people to interview. Anything paying at the higher range of the posting for internships and short term postings tends to have pretty stiff competition, but coming from Canada, especially if co-op is a mandatory part of your education, you likely will have a more attractive resume and substantially more experience than local UK applicants.
- Gumtree UK: Gumtree is a popular classified site in the United Kingdom. Some companies may post here, but be a little weary. The site doesn’t have the best reputation for quality jobs, but they definitely can be found and it is worth a look.
Once you’ve applied, and I recommend applying to a few especially via Work In Startups, the next step is the interview process. Many UK companies are familiar with Skype interviews and will offer positions after these interviews.
One practice that is quite standard in the United Kingdom that I had not yet encountered in Canada was a practice where potential employers will send those applicants who are serious contenders for the job a small task with a tight deadline to see how you perform under pressure and how you will succeed with the type of work the company is engaged in. Not all startups do this, but it is quite common.
How It Played Out For Me
My experience is what I’ve used to draw the above information off of. To give you a bit of an idea of how this process sometimes looks like, I will illustrate my experience for you.
I initially found myself in a bit of a unique situation. I knew I wanted to be in Europe, so I began poking around and found that the United Kingdom paid substantially better than the rest if Europe. As I was in Hong Kong at the time, I decided to apply for the T5 – Youth Mobility Visa from Hong Kong and I was lucky I fit the requirements to do this – albeit barely.
Upon receiving approval, I applied for 15 startups via a combination of Work In Startups and Gumtree. My break down was 12 Work in Startups and 3 Gumtree. Ultimately, this is what happened with the 15:
With the exception of the one late reply this all occurred within a week. Both of the offers consisted of interview processes with 2+ interviews, and 1 had a small demo task to attempt before I received an offer.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact page or by leaving a comment.