Bowen Sun is an international student from China who is studying Masters in Digital and Interactive Storytelling. Today she shares with us how mentoring has helped her to secure a place on the Commercial Banking Global Graduate Program in the UK with HSBC.

Hi Bowen! It sounds like your chosen career path and the course you have studied is quite different, how did you come to this decision?

My main goal was to find a job in U.K., so I basically searched for companies in any industry which provided the Tier 2 visa sponsorship, instead of just focusing on creative industries. I have failed many times at different stages of the recruitment processes, but being open to all opportunities greatly increased my chance of success.

I have been interested in finance industry from my previous internship experiences and I was able to show my rationale for choosing a career path which is different from my academic background.

What your degree course is in doesn’t really matter, what matters is to demonstrate your true interest and potential. Plus, read business news.

What attracted you to apply for the mentoring scheme in the first place?

All mentors are industry people with plenty of work experiences. They know what employers are looking for, and that’s exactly what I needed – to become a potential employee.

Since this mentoring scheme is run by our university, it’s absolutely safe and FREE!! So why not? I think all students should take this chance and make the best of it!

A lot of students ask, ‘what is mentoring’? Based on your experience, what would you say?

In one sentence, mentoring is about having an industry expert to guide you and change your role from a student to a potential employee.

My mentor gave me very good advice in every stage of the recruitment process, from selecting which companies to apply to, to the final assessment center. He had lots of experience of interviewing other people and being an interviewee and so I learned from mentor’s experience and avoided potential pitfalls.

Even though a mentors’ insights are very helpful, they can’t guarantee your success! For example, my mentor is wonderful but I still experienced 8 application failures before finally getting an offer.

What are some highlights from your mentoring relationship?

I was amazed at my mentor’s contact network. When I was preparing for the video interview for Accenture, my mentor asked his friend who works at that company to have a phone conversation with me. It was such a rare opportunity for me – a foreign student who has just lived in this country for several months, to be able to speak to someone inside the target company.  

My mentor was always cheerful. Sometimes I felt nervous and disappointed during the long, and seemingly hopeless job-seeking process. My mentor’s cheerful character eased my negative feelings. Also my mentor has a strong belief in me, which, in turn, had increased my confidence.

What are some things you learnt from your mentor?

The things I have learnt most are, of course, job-seeking tips, such as how to frame interview answers, what should be avoided and so on. The other thing is to be resilient. My mentor also failed many times in his job-seeking process. It’s okay to fail but we need to move on quickly.

What other factors do you think has contributed to your success? Do you have any mottos that you live by?

The other factor was that I reached out to all potential people who were able to help me: my professors and even my classmate’s husband who works in finance/banking industry. Speak to as many people as you can.

Mottos that I live by: action conquers fears.

Anything else you would like to say to other students?

To international students who have short visa periods like me, if you want to find a job here, do start as early as possible. I decided to start looking for jobs last June, applied to my first company last July, finished CV/Cover letter’s template last September and started to apply widely since last October.

No matter how hard it is, try to keep your head up and stay positive 🙂

If you are an international student and would like to find out more about how the Careers Team can help, feel free to get in touch with us at or call 02079115184.

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