At MDS we’re looking for Trainees who are adaptable. There are lots of challenges involved in experiencing different companies – adjusting to different roles, different cultures and different types of people requires resilience. But, this is all in the name of finding your best fit in the industry! For international Trainees, relocating and adapting to new cultures are skills that they have already demonstrated. You can apply for the graduate or leadership programme if you have pre-settled status or ongoing right to work in the UK for 3+  years!

Group 51 Trainee Francesco, who started the programme in April, is from Bologna, Italy and he offered us some advice for Trainees who might be considering the programme.

Which visa entry route did you go through, and how did you go about applying?

As for the VISA, I had the Pre-Settled status granted in December 2020 before. This allows someone to work, study or live in the UK. I started my application for MDS at the end of September 2021. Afterwards I followed all the steps in the application procedure, which followed onto a telephone interview, and assessment centre. I found each stage in the recruitment process inclusive, and the team were very clear on what the requirements were and what I would need to do to meet them.

In what order would you recommend organising the following based on your experience and why?

Once I had been accepted onto the programme, I personally followed the relocation process in the following stages:

  1. Flight ticket: I would advise that you ensure that you have the possibility of changing the date of the ticket with no additional costs. I would also recommend arriving at least a couple of weeks before your potential start date to allow enough time for all the processes and settle in. It might be best to book an Airbnb to stay in while you are looking for appropriate accommodation in your secondment location. This means you can get a feel for the area.
  2. Bank account: Opening a UK bank account early and depositing some money purchasing items without transaction charges or exchange rate commissions. It might be that the bank asks for proof of residence/proof of employment/right to work in the UK. The best thing to do is to identify a bank you would like to open the account with and call them before your journey to make sure you have the appropriate documents ready. You might need to ask MDS for proof of employment in advance and/or download the right to work. The bank will also ask you for an address, which can be tricky to provide if you have not secured your accommodation yet. In this case, I would ask a friend (or an MDS team member/former Trainee) if it is possible to use their address temporarily while the accommodation is sorted. Once you have secured your accommodation, you can immediately change the address connected with the bank account.
  3. Phone contract: I recommend setting up a temporary UK contract at the beginning as it makes things a little easier. This is important as car insurance companies and letting agencies may not accept international calls. When you set up a phone contract for an extended period, you will need to arrange a standing order. The phone company needs to verify that the address is the same as the address registered with your bank account. This is why it is crucial to change the address with your bank account as soon as the accommodation is found so that you may also purchase the phone contract.
  4. Car: This will probably be one of the first things you will need as you search for accommodation; however, do not buy anything unless you have seen it! It is wise not to leave any holding deposit (unless you are 100% sure) as it is non-refundable. Make sure you select carefully who to give the holding deposit to, and where possible, use dealerships over a private seller. I found Autotrader.com to be a good website. It allows you to view photos, the car insurance history, the road tax amount and the number of previous owners. You must apply for road tax even if it does not apply to your car, and you need to ensure you are sent a new V5.
  5. Car insurance: As soon as you start the [purchasing procedure, you will need insurance. You cannot take the car home until it is insured. I recommend comparison websites like Confused.com or Compare the Market to find the best price. Make sure that the insurance includes business use. When you set up the insurance, you can have the regular correspondence mailed to one address (a friend/colleague), but you need to give them the address of where the car will actually be kept for fully comprehensive insurance that includes fire and theft.
  6. Accommodation: There are several different websites you can use to find suitable accommodation for you; Spare room; Zoopla; Rightmove; Prime Location. Do not give any holding deposit or start the renting procedure until you have seen the place in person. The pictures do not always reflect the current conditions of a property. Although it is good to look for the accommodation well in advance, I would start reserving on-site viewing a week before your arrival or your availability as the flat may already be gone by the time you arrive.
  7. National insurance number: Even if you have the right to work in the UK, you must apply for an NI number for tax purposes. I was told I could apply for it once I was in the UK because a UK address and postcode are needed, so I recommend doing it once you have secured your accommodation. You can apply on the GOV.UK website.

What are the biggest pitfalls to look out for when undertaking the MDS onboarding process from outside of the UK, and what is your biggest piece of advice for anyone undertaking this process?

I think some pitfalls people can fall privy to can come from:

  • Not thoroughly reading what is required for each stage of your application,
  • Not giving 100% in each step that is leading you to the start of your MDS journey,
  • Assuming that even if something is due “in x amount of months,” you have plenty of time to do it – I would say it is never too early to start!

My biggest advice is to follow every step from the very beginning, to make sure you read all the specifications required by the UK Government and MDS for each document and keep all your folders well organised on your computer (and keep a printed copy). Ensure you keep the MDS team updated about every change or step; this will ease the process and help prevent/mitigate future mishaps.

Do you have any additional pieces of information that may be relevant?

Regarding the MDS application process,  my main advice is to be yourself; the MDS Team are interested in discovering more about you, so always be honest and open! Also, do not be afraid to ask questions; it is normal to have doubts and concerns along the way, and that is what the fantastic MDS Team is there for. All the people in MDS know that Trainees will have many questions on different topics, some of them have been “on the other side of the fence” as well, and they are always happy to help you in any way they can.

Finally, I have created a full document with advice and suggestions for future international (and non-international) Trainees that the team can provide you with. Best of luck!