Since last being on air a month ago, I’ve been in touch with my new mentor Claire Young...

Since last being on air a month ago, I’ve been in touch with my new mentor Claire Young who’s been a great help ever since. She’s helped me improve my CV, looked over some cover letters and graduate applications I’d sent,  put me in touch with a company who was hiring and also arranged for me to meet Peter Dodd, Sales and Marketing Director at Welcome to Yorkshire.When Claire and I met, she made some interesting points for me to reflect on, such as making sure I utilise social media as much as I can, have more confidence in my abilities and experience, if I really want something I’m going to have to nag people, get on the phones, ask to speak to the right person and if I’m still not getting anywhere or they’re not getting back to me, nag and nag again.

Karen meets Claire

One interesting point she made was, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I’ve heard this many times before but was never really convinced it was true. There are many people out there who have made it on their own. The problem here is that I lack a professional network. So as a lost and self diminished graduate knocked by a year of no replies, rejections and reality slapping me in my face, I asked Claire, “How do you network with no network?” The answer was simple. Get out there. Claire suggested that I join a networking group and not be afraid to stand up and tell people that I’m looking to get my foot in the door. Networking is my mission of the month.

The Interview After meeting Claire, I was off to a practise interview with Peter Dodd at Welcome to Yorkshire. The role I was interviewing for was Marketing Manager. This was quite daunting as there was no job specification, no person specification, nor did I feel I was good enough to be a Marketing Manager. But nevertheless, the only thing I could do was be myself, do research and answer questions the best I can. I arrived at the gorgeous Welcome to Yorkshire offices and met Peter, at which point I was feeling calmer than I thought I would. I don’t know whether it was the welcoming atmosphere of the offices, or that I was there with the producer, but something gave me a sense of support. I don’t actually remember what I felt during the interview; all I remember is focusing on the questions. In fact, when the interview finished, I thought it went better than I expected. I didn’t get flustered with my words, I didn’t panic and I didn’t have too many ‘umm’ moments. Or at least I don’t think I did. Even though I performed fairly well in the interview, in a real situation, I wouldn’t have got the job but Peter gave some great feedback. Interestingly when asked what I could improve, amongst a list of useful suggestions, one was to have more confidence in my abilities as I’m capable of more than what I believe I am (didn’t Claire say that too?).

Having met Claire and Peter has definitely helped with my confidence and they’ve given me some really insightful advice. I just need to start believing in myself more and learn how to sell myself better to employers. My mission of the month is a tough one, but hopefully, over the next 4 weeks I’ll start building up my confidence and get out there. Karen Wan, 23, from Mansfield – graduate currently working part time as a waitress.

This is a guest post from Karen who took part in the 'NOISE Young & Jobless' radio documentary series, broadcast over 4 months on BBC 5Live in 2012. The programme followed four unemployed young people as they looked for work, hooking them up with mentors and advice on their journey. For more information about this project, the participants and mentors  --see here--