Last week was the 49th AGR Student Recruitment Conference, held in the surprisingly “adventurous” city of Brighton, or what can be best described as a mixture of Tornado Alley and San Francisco. As a Dutch startup just starting to break into the UK, this was certainly our kind of party (ahum, conference).

Business and pleasure wasn’t the only thing though. In-between all that networking and drinking, the AGR conference provided a platform to inform and even point out things going on in the graduate recruitment field that many may turn a blind-eye on. Important issues were raised and will hopefully be followed up on.

For those of you who are not industry insiders: the AGR stands for the Association of Graduate Recruiters (soon to be renamed to the Institute of Student Employers, or ISE) and combines (in-house) graduate recruiters, university careers services staff and suppliers. Basically it’s the official graduate recruitment industry body.

The first day started with some (awkward) first timers drinks. Awkward because of us, by the way. As the new boys in town it is always tricky to meet new people. Especially when you’re wearing bright red t-shirts screaming “Feed me business cards!”. Thankfully our very charming old friend CH4O (that’s alcohol kids) was there to introduce us to everyone.

The next day’s breakout sessions were good, offering many interesting insights, but after lunch (truth be told) we were looking forward to the drinks after. Thankfully for some (or most… you know who you are), the information sessions are only padding, filling out the day until they can attend the Gala Awards Dinner.

Yes, the Gala Awards Dinner. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? And it was. Well, until the jagerbombs came in right after the first course, that is. Let’s just say – some people drank so much that Charlie Sheen would break his probation just by smelling their breath. Anyway, being a startup, we obviously did not buy a table like the more traditional players, so had to fight for a seat at one of the free seating tables. And so the four of us ended up in the right back corner with Tom and Elisa from Sanctuary Graduates (awesome people btw).

That night everyone got their best suits and dresses on. Being a genuinely British event, of course awards were handed out like warm crumpets by the real funny Hal Cruttenden. It was quite the accomplished dinner. A couple of bottles of wine, a number of GT’s and a few shots later the party took itself from the Grand Brighton Hotel to Coalition, a club at the beach where we partied like it was Saturday night… on a Wednesday. The night was so successful, it’s a miracle people still showed up the next morning.

Stay classy Brighton.