Young workers: 'Never forget your dreams'


Although millions of young people globally are searching desperately for a job there are many who have bucked the unemployment trend and have successfully taken their first step on the career ladder.

As part of a series of features about youth unemployment around the world, we asked you to tell us your stories of how you got your break in these tough circumstances, and what advice you'd give to others still searching.

Here are your stories which include war, luck, determination and realism.

Bruno Menzan, 30, human rights consultant, Dakar, Senegal

'Do not get discouraged by failure and keep trying'

Bruno Menzan in Dakar, Senegal Bruno Menzan is a full-time consultant for human rights in West Africa

I was interviewed for around 10 of the many positions I had applied for. But I think when you fail to be shortlisted for roles, it does make you question your capabilities and skills.

There were also lots of obstacles I had to face. My home country - Ivory Coast - was going through a civil war and so I would be being interviewed over Skype while there were bomb blasts going off in the background. My priority was finding a good job while caring for my daughter. For me it became an issue of survival.

Don't just look for paid roles - volunteer or intern in order to get an insight into a professional environment and structure your CV so that it highlights your accomplishments and talents.

Do not get discouraged by failure and keep trying. Learn from your unsuccessful attempts.

Anna Claesson, 26, journalist, Boras, Sweden

'Have the courage to stand out, and stand up for yourself'

Anna Claesson: "Be patient and remember that no-one starts off at the top"

Anthony Kogi, 23, technical support, Nairobi, Kenya

'Keep on trying and if you have to settle for an internship, do it to gain experience'

Anthony Kogi Anthony Kogi networked before getting his first job at GuruIT

After university I sent out a bunch of applications and dropped off my resume at offices all over Nairobi. I also did a lot of networking.

Although Kenya has a high rate of unemployment, I chose not to give up.

I bumped into my current employer one day and handed him a copy of my curriculum vitae on the off-chance he needed somebody. A day later he called me. I was first an assignment research assistant but am now working in technical support.

This is a small start-up company but it's giving me the experience I need.

I would say keep on trying and even if you have to settle for an internship, do it so that you at least gain experience.

Emilie Prattico, 29, business consultant, Paris, France

'Find a strategy that emphasises how interesting and unique your background is'

Start Quote

Emilie Prattico

Find a strategy that emphasises your unique background”

End Quote

After a long time spent in academia working on a PhD in philosophy and teaching, I changed direction completely and enrolled in a one-year masters programme at a French business school.

The change turned out to be radical as I have now just started working at a management and strategy consulting firm.

But I had entered the recruiting process many months before my first interview. I met people who worked in the industry at the companies I wanted to work at, friends of friends and alumni from the various international universities I had attended.

That helped me to feel comfortable entering the complicated and arduous process of applying and interviewing.

My advice is to find a strategy that emphasises how interesting and unique your background is.

Farah Syahirah, 26, economic analyst, Malaysia

'The job you settled for could be the stepping stone to achieving your dream job'

Farah Syahirah Farah Syahirah started her first job as an economic analyst in an investment bank last year

After studying in the UK, I hoped to enter the field of foreign affairs and diplomacy but then realised that I had no idea about how to get into that line of work in Malaysia.

I still hope to work in foreign affairs but I have come to terms with the fact that not everybody gets their dream job immediately after graduating. My current job teaches me how to track and analyse economic trends so I'm hoping that will help me in the future.

My advice to those looking for a job - sometimes you just need to settle, but never forget your dream.

The job you settled for could be the stepping stone to achieving your dream job. That hope is what forces me to wake up each morning to go to work.

Kristin Cornett, 23, social media analyst, Virginia, US

'Be stubborn, be determined, be thorough'

Kristin Cornett Kristin Cornett is an analyst for Navanti Group

After graduation, I spent nine months waitressing until I found a part-time internship opportunity via a family friend contact. I moved to take up the position at the drop of a hat.

I applied all over the world stating I'd be happy to relocate. Many companies never responded despite my follow-up phonecalls and emails.

But I now work in a small team of analysts conducting social media analysis and drafting reports which focus on the Western Africa region.

Persistence is key. Be stubborn, be determined, be thorough. Apply to positions you may not be directly interested in.

As a young jobseeker you are full of so much potential, don't let yourself be lost among the discouraged!

Tom Gibby, 23, trainee solicitor, Nottingham, UK

'A willingness to volunteer is also vital as it illustrates that you care about more than just yourself'

Young and jobless graphic

High youth unemployment is one of the biggest problems confronting societies around the world, condemning whole generations to a life of much reduced income.

In our special report we look at the challenges facing today's young and jobless, and the attempts to overcome the problem.

Getting a first job as a trainee solicitor was the hardest challenge I ever faced.

I have emerged from the process a stronger, tougher and better person, having learned vital skills to survive in both a tough profession and economic world.

To cross the line, I had to show dedication to the legal profession. This I did through working, unpaid and funding my own expenses, at nine firms every holiday. I needed teamwork and leadership skills, which I acquired through getting involved in university activities, and experience in the workplace which I got by working in a supermarket and a local restaurant.

A willingness to volunteer is also vital as it illustrates that you care about more than just yourself.

Also crucial is business acumen. It is simple to get, given how easy it is to access information online and via television programmes. Taking notes of the key points and issues gives you enough to have an opinion and so score points at interview.

Laura Hoskins, 24, assistant manager, La Libertad, Peru

'Perseverance is key'

Laura Hoskins Laura is an assistant manager working for British-Peruvian non-government organisation Otra Cosa Network

Immediately after leaving university I was lucky to land a seven-month unpaid internship at the Oxfam campaigns office in Manchester in the UK.

However, my dream was to work for an non-government organisation in Peru and so I decided the only way to launch my career was to study for a masters in international development.

Finding my first job wasn't as stressful as I'd imagined. In fact, my first application landed me my dream job. I worked extremely hard for my interviews and here I am today in a small town in northern Peru using both of my degrees.

I believe that by gaining as much relevant experience as possible during and after university and being willing to start at the bottom have paid off. It really made the quest for my first (and dream) job relatively pain-free.

Use any contacts you might have in your area of work who can help you source job vacancies and just apply for everything you can - perseverance is key!

Bahruz Naghiyev, 25, treasury controller, Baku, Azerbaijan

Bahruz Naghiyev Bahruz Naghiyev and his supervisor at Pasha Bank

'Be willing to accept new challenges and risks so you can discover just how far you can really go'

I started working when I was still in college in the US.

Unfortunately things didn't go the way I was planning and due to the economic crisis, investment firms started laying off foreigners so my chances of getting hired by one of them was almost zero.

I decided to go back to Azerbaijan where I went through several exams and interviews before I finally got my first full-time job at Pasha Bank as a treasury controller.

I believe achievements don't come with strength but with perseverance. The traits which most successful people have in common are perseverance, persistence and determination.

The key to success is being able to develop these characteristics, stay passionate about your ambitions and be able to take a risk when necessary.

If you would like to get your dream job you need to persistently improve yourself, be willing to accept new challenges and risks so you can discover just how far you can really go.

Gebe George, 27, marketing specialist, Manama, Bahrain

'Keep studying even if you have to work at the same time'

Gebe George at work Gebe George works for Techno Blue in Bahrain

I am an Indian who was educated in Bahrain and finished my masters in Australia. I am currently working as a marketing specialist for Techno Blue, which represents Samsung in the country.

I was unemployed for nine months and was finally ready to call it quits and return to India when I got an interview call from the company for a role in logistics.

I went along but the chief executive officer refused to employ me. He told me that he hated to see a person like me stuck behind a desk and instead gave me the marketing role. He was aware I did not have much experience but guaranteed full support and mentoring. I said yes immediately.

Though I found it extremely hard to find a decent job in Bahrain, I did not lose hope. Bahrain is home to me, and although I am not a Bahraini passport holder I love this tiny island with a certain passion.

Bahrain was also going through a tough year with all the protests taking place as part of the Middle East "revolution". Trade was bad and businesses were shutting down everywhere. But I kept at it.

I would advise other jobseekers to keep studying even if you have to work at the same time.

Ngoc Nguyen, 22, sales assistant, Saigon, Vietnam

'Seize every chance going and step out of your comfort zones'

Ngoc Ngyuen Ngoc Ngyuen's language skills helped her to find her first job

I'm working as a sales assistant in a furniture company - it's a job I started a few months ago.

My sister worked at the same company and when she decided to leave, she told me about the vacancy. She helped me send my curriculum vitae to the human resources department. But when I had the interview the boss was impressed with my English language skills - so it was a mixture of luck and talent.

At university I studied import-export business administration but I'm not really using my specialism much. I do like my job now as sometimes I have the chance to meet new customers and learn how to deal with them, solve problems and do the best I can. But I am still studying as I want to know more about foreign trade.

I would say seize every chance going and step out of your comfort zones.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Find out as much as you can about your prospective employer at both the application and interview stages. You'd be amazed how many people turn up for interview without doing their homework first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    In addition to my comment below (No. 40) - I have to agree with a comment a few pages back. There is an element of luck. There is an element of making your own luck. I feel that I had both of these elements on my side, and I thank my lucky stars every single day that I have a job I love, in a company and industry that looks after its staff well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Take risks. Explore. Be enterprising. It's shocking how you find out what you're truly capable of. Continuous belief and those leaps takes one a long way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Msg 34 is right. You don't know where that first job will lead.

    I took the first one offered (a clerical job in a tax office almost 200 miles from where I lived). 37 years later, my whole career has been in tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Love the people saying "be willing to volunteer" like it's some personal choice people make.

    Everybody would volunteer, if they could live at their parents rent free, have all their meals cooked for them free, and £30 a month pocket money to blow on booze.

    Unfortunately, not everyone has that support system behind them. A lot of people have no choice but to only take paid work, to pay the rent

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    After unsuccessfully applying for hundreds of jobs after my graduation, I began to lose faith. I noticed a friend-of-a-friend (who I had never met) on Facebook worked for a company I'd previously sent a CV to. I asked him nicely to have a look at my CV, he passed it onto his boss after a few changes - I landed the job a day later. It's not what you know, it's who you know. Making contacts is key.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Its never too late in your life to make a change. I am 33 years old and am currently studying an MA in psychotherapy. I was recently made redundant and it was the best thing that could have happened. Keep the end goal in sight and push on. Opportunity is every where!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    No offense but I kinda hate this kinda article the advice these people give like "be persistence", work hard", "be stubborn". First I think most people already know that. But people have different personality. Yes sometimes depends on how aggressive a person is in order to get a job. Anyway, my advice, be yourself, do what you like to do, don't give up and DON'T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Success in the UK is far less subjected to knowing the right people as you will find in most other countries. We have the institutions which allow people to prove their worth and on the basis of their academic success can be selected by big business.
    The class system is a thing of the past, we have great equality and opportunites and that is why we have thousands of imigrants wanting to come

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    EconBoy, 7 years ago. Really? 2005 is when you graduated. There's a bit of a difference between employment prospects, though I suppose the point is still valid today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    I got my job based on my education. I worked very hard and got a First Class with Honours BSc in Maths and Stats. I graduated 3 years ago (not at a good time) and struggled to even find jobs to apply for or to get any interviews. When I finally got an interview it didn't go all that well but my hard work in education over the previous 4+ years of my life got me the job i.e. my degree did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Having a dream and an ambition is of course a great thing but your first job is not necessarily going to be your career for life. Any job you can get will add to your experience.I worked as a waitress, in a launderette and in finance which have helped me build my skill base i.e. interaction with people & financials to run my own business. Any job is better than no job when you need an income.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    My advice to young people - and it is sage at the age of 25 - would be to never give up, even after a heart crushing failure and remember that the darkness is always darkest before the dawn

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The difference is one group do this willingly as they can probably afford to because they have a good support network whereas the other group will have no choice.
    You know as well as I do that enforced labour of the unemployed will be used to line the pockets of the executives of these companies by pushing the lower paid wages down with assistance of the gov't to reduce unemployment figures

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    13. Ed Bryan
    My company reserves commitment until interns prove themselves, and by the way we do pay them something.
    Pay them "something" ? How magnanimous of you. I suppose you think they should be grateful for a bowl of gruel.

    And if you take them on after screwing them for a year, can I assume you back date their pay for a year then ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Used to do level design for computer games about 15 years ago. Wanted to do it professionally.

    Looked for a job in the industry. After many attempts to get an interview I finally got one. Impressed the other developers with my knowledge, I left the place with them saying I was a shoe-in.

    An apologetic phone call told me the Job went to the MD's cousin.

    It's not what you know, it's who you know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Funny how so many people think interships are a good thing - i.e. that young people should work for nothing.

    But when HMG suggested a few months ago that unemployed people should do a couple of weeks "work experience" and not be paid more than their benefits, there was uproar and accusations of slave labour.

    And the difference between the two is what exactly ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Where I work has just had its 2nd round of job interviews and I'm on the interview panel, and what I would suggest to anyone seeking work is read the job description a few times, get some key points from the JD and research the job as you can be asked any questions from the JD. If you can visit the workplace then do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    In the examples above there is not a single productive role amongst them.
    It seems the world over everyone wants to become either analysists,consultants,lawyers,accountants or some type of specialist.
    Whatever happened to productive careers.These jobs are just parasitic and produce nothing themselves.No wonder the global economy is in trouble.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Sometimes you need to be unorthodox. Write to someone at the top and not through the HR. If you seriously believe you can make a difference then be brave, go for it, but be sure you have the ammunition to back up your claims.


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