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From an eternal student to a real career: Anton’s case

Anton contacted us in February 2020. Ambitious, bright, and young, of just 22 years old, this man was at the crossroads. He had a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Culture from King’s College London and less than three months experience within the marketing department of a UK small-size company. Anton managed to obtain a 3-year work visa sponsored by this company in just two days before his student visa expired. But he did not quite enjoy routine office computer job and lack of lofty ideals, challenging tasks, and the intensity of making important decisions surrounded by high-profile people.

Anton booked a consultation with our leading coach Inga Neaves. They talked for 2,5 hours, starting from a thorough examination of a career path that the young man chose for himself. In addition, Inga suggested two more options.

Anton’s first option, the one he considered to be the best, was to quit the job right away and apply for a Master’s degree program with the start in October 2020. But interesting programs at UK top universities, that would help Anton propel his career forward, have exceedingly early deadlines, approximately a year before the program starts. Applying for a graduate school or a job with a degree in Digital Culture, Anton needed some more evidence of what he had learnt. Besides that, he had to have an internationally recognised certificate, like GMAT. Work experience would be a great advantage, too.

In terms of immigration matters, the option to apply for a graduate programme right away did not seem advantageous, either. There would be no problem changing his visa status from work to student, but for Anton, it would be his last year on Tier 4student visa. Is it worth spending it on a programme chosen without long-term career planning and thorough preparation?

The plan to study for another year looked like an attempt to postpone the reality of a real professional career. Studying is easy: your proud parents keep paying your bills, while you spend your free time, hanging out with your carefree friends. The beginning of adult life is delayed, and it would be simply perfect if time stopped altogether! But another thing that is delayed is demanding and challenging tasks that the employer can entrust you with. A young man who has just left the academic environment and is only able to find correct answers in a pile of books cannot be relied on to deal with important jobs.

The second option, one of the two suggested by Inga, was less radical, more arduous and a bit more foolproof. It was to work at the current position for one more year, prepare for graduate school commencing in October 2021. It was a good option, but not the best.

The best option for Anton, as we see it, was to work at the current position for three more years until the work visa expires, and only then apply for a Master’s degree.

Yes, we recommended Anton to stay at his current job that, according to him, he did not enjoy so much. And yes, we believe that it is the fastest and the most beneficial road for him. Our experience in career coaching, knowledge of the UK labour market and immigration matters have proved that pushing a client towards entering an education programme without proper thinking and planning on their part is not a smart strategy. It is much more important to have a bigger picture, plan several steps ahead and always ask oneself ‘How will this step help me achieve my long-term goal?’ In Anton’s case, all the academic, professional and immigration factors were in favour of taking things slowly.

Anton did not consider himself to be lucky. But not every international IT-specialist or financial analyst can find a job in England that would sponsor their work visa right after studies. Luckily, Anton managed it! Even though a degree in Digital Culture is, frankly, not among the most demanded in the UK job market (even local students majoring in it have hard times finding a job). Anton has an actual job, not an internship, where he is gaining real work experience, where he is involved in a lot of business processes: communication with suppliers, budgeting and marketing the company. Needless to say, he receives a salary for this hands-on learning, while his parents are not wasting their money on a course that would not add anything to Anton’s resume.

Anton has intuitively chosen the road to adulthood. It will eventually be the shortest and most efficient one, but it is not the easiest – that is why he shows reluctance and doubts. Here and now his job does not seem so exciting: no one praises you or gives you an ‘A’, your colleagues may not be very friendly, and you do not have much free time to spend with your college friends. In the UK they might point to your mistake in such a polite manner that you will not even notice it. Behind every successful career, there are thousands of hours of tedious work, routine tasks, and self-imposed limitations on pleasures. But noone talks about it at cocktail parties or on social media. It is a great secret of all successful people.

Now Anton is in an advantageous position: he has a visa, job in England and an opportunity to gain work experience and recommendations as long as he works in the company for a considerable amount of time. All this will eventually lead to a top graduate program and high-level professional positions.

Quitting the job now would mean losing all this: experience, visa, a good line on a resume. What for? To start a Master’s programme sooner? British graduate programs are no doubt interesting and prestigious, but work experience makes a graduate degree three times more valuable. We felt the need to explain this to Anton and offer to work together both on technical side of things, like preparing a strong Master’s application and his life skills.

Three years is enough to prepare for a top Master’s programme and discover ways of self-management. How to make the most of the current job? How to make a working day dynamic and productive? How to use this job as a step to a dizzying ascent, moving to global business or starting your own company? All these questions require answers, as well as typical questions of a grad school applicant: How to pass GMAT? How to write a motivation letter? We will help Anton find answers to these questions at our coaching sessions that we recommended him to start with. Only after it, we will choose a study programme that will be the best fit for Anton’s career strategy and will push his career and personal pursuits forward.


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