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As my fresher’s year approached its inevitable conclusion I began to realise it was time to return to the real world. The fun was over – for at least a few months and I thought I would get ahead of the game and start applying for jobs during my exams. Surely this would guarantee some summer work for when I got home, right? Wrong, so very wrong.

​What this actually signified was the beginning of what has felt like an endless quest for employment. My mornings would start by waking up (obviously) in order to start my next day of job hunting and reading through my email inbox to find multiple rejections. H&M, Next, Tesco and even Lego land – who I had thought better of, all sent me denials on top of denials: ‘I’m sorry but your application cannot be processed at this time’ a more polite way of saying that they just don’t want me. Walking down to every local shop and bar, shopping centre or high street and desperately handing them copies of my CV. I may very well have done some serious damage to the tree population. Distributing an advertisement of myself, that appeared to be a product that no one seemed to want. Then there is the endless conundrum of being told by your parents that it’s better to go and apply in person so that you are memorable and then being told by store managers that they only accept online applications, which I personally don’t think give employers any chance of getting to know you.

I began to wonder what it was that was so undesirable to a prospective employer. I had experience in a lot of industries: retail, hospitality, offices etc. Perhaps this showed a lack of focus as opposed to a variety of experience? The worst thing is the lack of constructive feedback or criticism. It’s fine to feel I am not appropriate for the role but I would at least like to know where I am going wrong. When employers look at student’s applications the fact that they are not able to work during term time can be extremely undesirable and indicate that you are not searching for anything long term. I don’t think however that I should have to lie in order to gain employment and so I decided on another plan of action.

I decided one of the best routes would be agencies as they assign you to temporary placements that you are qualified for. I had some luck with Connections, an office agency that operates in Manchester. The process was quite simple, I gave them evidence of my eligibility to work in the UK and a copy of my CV then began a few short typing and data entry tests and since I had recently become accustomed to repeatedly typing online applications with speed my typing speed was quite impressive. I managed to get a placement in an office where I got paid £50 to copy and paste information for 8 hours a day. Agencies are a brilliant way to choose when you want to work and maintain a flexible job for whenever you’re home. I have signed up to many agencies one being a catering agency named Berkeley Scott and I now have an induction in a few days.

In fact the quest feels like it may be reaching a positive result at last. I have been receiving calls for interviews relating to online applications and finally it is me who is in a position to choose. It is important that you stay focussed and positive throughout your own personal pursuit for employment and that you use your time wisely. Start early and don’t doubt yourself. Be persistent, have a quick search on sites like Gumtree, Indeed and Google for jobs in your area every day and then think about what you can do in the meantime that sets you up for the future. Research internships in your chosen industry and read tips on how to submit the best applications to gain experience so when it comes to the biggest quest post- University you really will stand out and everyone will want you. Even Lego land.

Written by Kemi Olivia