Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Saturday, 10 January 2009

'Experience is the key to a job'

Emma Bonnar
Emma is currently working as a care assistant

News that the government is planning to give jobless graduates three-month paid internships as a route into permanent employment is being welcomed by some students.

Many say that they realise experience is important, but find it almost impossible to find.

Emma Bonnar, 22, finished her degree at the University of Teesside in May and graduated with an honours degree in interior architecture and design.

She said she has found it difficult to get any sort of work experience, let alone a job.

"To start with I rang round design firms looking for experience and got nowhere. Then I started applying online and putting my CV on the internet and registering with agencies - but I heard nothing. "

"Now I'm working through the night as a care assistant.

I've done all this and there's absolutely nothing - not even a tea lady in a design office

Emma Bonnar, graduate

"I don't like night shifts so I'm applying to bars and stuff - even supermarkets, but people were saying I was over-qualified - so I took my degree off my CV but still nothing, it's catch 22."

She said it's the experience which is vital to getting a foot on the job ladder.

"If two people apply for a job and one only has a portfolio of university work and someone else goes for it with more experience, more examples of work, then they will have the upper hand.

"I'd say out of 50 who graduated on my course, 10 are working - the others are working but not as designers.

She added: "I'm just disheartened and totally depressed and upset. I think did five years training on a specialist course and I just feel like I've done all this and there's absolutely nothing - not even a tea lady in a design office."

Tom Wooltorton
Tom said the situation has changed so much in under a year

Tom Wooltorton, 22, graduated from University of Manchester in the summer with a 2:1 in Geology.

He said he did not realise how bad the job situation was and took some time off after he finished in the summer.

He said since he has been back it has been a nightmare trying to find work.

"Between September and Christmas I was just doing rounds looking for graduate roles but I only got one interview from the whole of that.

"I've been emailing companies trying to get any sort of work experience but I'm not getting anything."

He said as little as a year ago the market for geology graduates was really good - not just in the UK but abroad.

'Education conveyor belt'

"Many graduates were going to Australia where work was pretty well guaranteed - even that's pretty much dried up and at home there is just nothing.

"There were graduate roles in mining and oil companies and as a geo-technical engineer - looking at groundwork for houses, but that's all come to a grinding halt now.

"I've decided that job hunting in the normal way is going nowhere, so I'm trying to secure a place on a masters degree for September - but even then that's not a guarantee of work afterwards."

He agreed with Emma that the key to securing a job is getting as much experience as possible. "I'd tell students now to get applications for graduate roles or summer placements in quickly and do as many as possible.

"If they find themselves coming off the educational conveyor belt in the summer and starting from there, they are going to find it very difficult."

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