Rachel finds experience trap difficult to escape
RACHEL COX wanted to spend her gap year working in events management as preparation for a degree – but despite contacting 60 firms only one has been able to help.
The 19-year-old, from Ivybridge, passed her A-levels last summer, but has deferred taking her spot at Plymouth University until next September.
But Rachel has been unable to gain the work placement or internship in her chosen field – events management – after finding herself in a classic Catch-22 trap: she needs experience to gain experience.
Rachel told The Herald about her difficulties in a bid to coax firms to take her on, and to highlight the problems faced by novice teenagers as they try to get on the jobs ladder.
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"It's really tricky," she said. "Employers say they want people with experience, but then won't give it to you.
"One company I contacted for an events assistant job said I fitted all the criteria – but experience was so important and I didn't have it.
"Employers are not bothered about you having a degree, they just want you to have experience. It's a vicious circle."
Rachel deferred her place at university because she "wanted to get a head start in business and the world of work before embarking on a very long and very expensive degree".
She said: "I've asked so many companies and businesses for work experience, I've tried to volunteer myself but I'm lucky if I even get an automated reply let alone one from an actual person.
"No one is interested. It makes it even more annoying when they plaster all over their website that they love work experience students and would host people for internships."
Rachel has found some work, as a general assistant at a leading supermarket chain.
But the job was in Dartmouth and, while grateful for it, it was not in the sector she wants to build a career in.
"I have tried to speak to more than 60 people," she said. "That's over the whole of Devon and Cornwall. I need experience and if I have to go to Cornwall I will."
One firm did answer Rachel's plea, however, and she is grateful for the opportunity presented by The Well Hung Meat Company in Buckfastleigh.
But the firm only has one corporate event she can attend between now and Christmas and Rachel is hoping other firms will offer her an opportunity too.
"I'd like to work for a company that has lots of different events," she said. "Even if they can have me one day a week."
Rachel said young people she knows who have found work placements have done so through personal contacts, such as family members.
But with her mother being a nurse, and her father working in IT after a long career in the armed forces, neither are involved in the sector she wants to work in.
" I feel like unless you know someone who can help you, you wont get anywhere," she said. "People have always said it's not what you know it's who you know, but I don't know anyone, so does this mean I'll be stuck?
"I want to get into marketing or events as an assistant and eventually work my way into management.
"I'm extremely hard working and take pride in everything I do and have a great drive to succeed."
Are you a young person having difficulty finding work, or a work placement? Or are you an employer who can help Rachel? contact business editor William Telford on 01752 765529 or email@example.com