Published on Thursday, February 16, 2012

TravelMole Blog: Caught in a catch 22

Can’t get a job without experience, can’t get experience without a job. Travel and tourism student Nikki Rimell is struggling to kick-start a career in the industry she loves.


To be honest I always liked the idea of working in travel and tourism but was sort of discouraged from it by my peers saying I should go to university and get a job that would pay more.  I tried a few different things. I did a very brief stint at uni before quitting and working full time. Then in 2010 I joined the travel and tourism course at South Worcestershire College and I really enjoy it. It feels like I’ve finally found my niche.

I'm currently juggling college with a full time job at an independent supermarket, which unfortunately means I don't have much spare time for voluntary work. I tried applying for voluntary work at the beginning of my course when I had more time but the travel agents I asked didn't seem interested, I didn't hear back from them. 


I've been applying for full time work for quite a while now, but I've generally found that the only employers that would take a college leaver are Thomas Cook or Thomson, but as they have their own apprenticeship schemes they don't have much need for it. I did try applying for the apprenticeships to get in that way but at 21 years old, they said I was too old for it. 


I’ve got all my GCSEs as well as A levels in English language, psychology and religious studies. I currently live in Worcestershire but I would happily move elsewhere if I was offered a job further afield. I've been applying for jobs locally and as far as Oxford, Birmingham and Peterborough.


I managed to get an interview with Thomas Cook call centre in Peterborough, but I never heard back from them. In addition to this there was a job going at my local Midcounties Co-op travel agent which asked for a year’s experience. My tutor put me forward and I handed in my CV in but a week later got a letter saying I wasn't successful in getting an interview but that they would keep my CV on file. I was quite deflated about this because I had been in the day before to give them my new mobile number and the person I spoke to said they were really hoping I'd get the job because my CV was very promising. I have found out since then that the manager of the store described me to my tutor as the ideal candidate and would have wanted to hire me, however head office had brought someone else in. This is hugely frustrating as after meeting me the manager was confident about my skills and happy to take on a trainee. 


The only jobs that I may be able to get are seasonal jobs such as being a holiday rep but I'm really not in a position where I can work for a season, and then be jobless at the end of it. I worked for a season at a local tourist attraction, but finding a job afterwards was so difficult and I struggled with money for a few months before I secured my current job. 


In total I've probably applied for 30+ jobs, both full and part time. Ideally I would one day like to work for a specialist travel agent or tour operator. I've got various interests in the industry. I enjoy sales, marketing and most other sectors. Based on the advertisements I've seen though, specialist travel agents and tour operators only ever want people with experience, which seems a shame as a college leaver like myself would expect minimum wage, can learn fast and be moulded to what they might want.



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