An innovative support group aiming to help graduates aspire to their 'dream jobs' is proving successful at Leicester University.
Leicester University's Graduate Action Group (GAG) was set up in May 1997 by Careers Advisor Mandy Weston and Careers Information Officer Annabel Blackburn to help graduates improve their employment situation by providing workshops geared at improving job search skills.
Although only 7% of last year's graduates from Leicester University found themselves unemployed six months after graduation, some students find themselves under-employed in stop gap jobs for purely financial reasons.
The group offers to help graduates find work in their desired occupations by advising them on structuring CVs, career planning, jobsearch strategies and interview practice and techniques.
GAG members play a key role in the running of the group, with backup provided by Mandy and Annabel, which means that group members can set the agenda for the meetings.
Mandy explains: "Graduates can sometimes get despondent if they see their friends finding work whilst they are still searching.
"When they come to one of our workshops they realise they are not alone and can provide mutual aid and support."
While the group cannot actually find jobs for the graduates, it provides all the possible help and advice on offer to steer the graduates in the right direction.
The group's aim is summed up by Annabel: "The workshops are informal but purposeful. The group brings together graduates with a common aim so that they can find their ideal jobs and help each other at the same time.
"This is not a place for people to moan about not having work. The mood at the workshops is upbeat, proactive and positive."
As well as gaining experience and advice from the sessions, members also get the chance to see their interview techniques on television.
The interview practice involves the participants being interviewed by a panel of their peers while being filmed on camcorder. The interviewee then watches the video to get a different perspective of their interview style
The workshops are open to all graduates, not just those who have studied in Leicester. Jake Fox studied architecture at Cambridge and UCL, and after graduating joined the dole queue.
Moving back to Leicester, Jake visited several jobseeker clubs with no luck, before visiting a GAG workshop after seeing one of the groups' posters in the University's Career Office.
"I found the workshops very useful," said Jake. "The group took a practical approach to the problems of finding work, and it was a positive and worthwhile experience
"It was good to meet other graduates in the same position as myself and talk about the problems we were all facing.
"It can be difficult for graduates to get into the job market, because employers view you as being skilled but having no experience."
Using the help and advice gained at the GAG meetings, Jake is now on a training course which, if he passes, will lead to a job with London based computer giants Logica.
For anyone interested in finding out more about the group, cal l0116 252 2005, or pop along to their wine evening at the Careers Fair on June 22.
NOTE TO NEWSDESKS: To get in touch with graduates on the network, or for further information, please contact Mandy or Annabel on 0116 252 2005.
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