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.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    77. tiredallthetime

    No matter how well educated you are for you chosen field of work it is who you know,


    Agree with you, although I would say that for everyone else its not impossible to get into these fields... you just have live with the fact that you'll have to work 10x harder to get there than the guy/girl who's daddy is the Director/CEO/Managing Partner etc etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    As an employer, I would far rather hire a young person with enthusiasm, a good work ethic and the ability to learn over a more experienced person if skills are not important. But many young people can't communicate in business language - reading, writing and listening are essential skills in the modern business which many young people unfortunately seem to lack.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    "Its never been what you know but WHO you know!"

    I'm not sure on this, neither my sister or I or most for that matter most of my friends have ever had lofty contacts and yet have all managed to get jobs and mostly in the areas we've wanted to be in. That always strikes me as a bitter excuse. I'm sure it is easier if you have contacts but you can do it without.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I had to laugh that 29 is still considered a 'young person' in France. At 29 Id completed my degree, got married, had two children and been working for 8 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    As an employer, I don't think volunteer/unpaid-internship work is worth very much compared to ANY sort of paid work (even 'menial' jobs). If a company really needs a job done, they're going to pay somebody to do it to ensure it gets done. If they don't pay you, it means they don't care much whether you do the job right, and thus 'volunteer work' is no evidence at all of ability or work ethic

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    It all depends on the area of work you are looking for. IT and anything computer related seems to constantly be recruiting. But what about the construction sector where there is little growth? It's not that easy then...I know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    also, on a side note. isn't the whole notion that "its not what you know its who you know" is another name for "networking" which is a skill some employers find desirable??

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    I finished my degree and decided to take a few months off. That turned into a year of barwork/waiting, with about 6 months of those being job searching. While working about 5 months ago I took food out to a table of guys in for a working lunch and overheard they were talking about shipping. I mentioned that i had a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine engineering and I am now working for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    No matter how well educated you are for you chosen field of work it is who you know, not what you know is the deciding factor. Parents or friends will always employ their own children rather than strangers. Master degrees sometimes help, but don't hold your breath. Just look at the law or media and t.v work the same surnames crop up all the time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    my advice would be to be open minded, and dont worry if you dont get your "dream" job straight away. Every other job you get is a stepping stone to the one you want. Spend the extra time tailoring a CV and covering letter to a specific job title and read the job description thoroughly. If you dont match all the criteria then dont bother, the employers will see it as a waste of their time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Having worked for 5 & 1/2 half whilst spending part of that doing an OU degree, I lived my dream and went travelling for a year. On my return, despite having worked at a top UK University and at a University whilst travelling, it took me the best part of a year to get a job again in the UK even with that length of experience. Its never been what you know but WHO you know! Dreams rarely come true!

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    My advise would be to do it yourself if possible, now the internet age is upon us starting up your own business is easy. Unless your lucky enough to get a high skilled job then employers don't give a monkeys about you. Since the global crisis employers have taken every opportunity to take advantage of the poor. Low paid job = stress, misery, hopelessness, ill health.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    'Never forget your dreams'


    Is an American idea that causes a great deal of unrealism and disillusion, but endlessly propagated by the media including the BBC.

    Few people achieve these, and for almost everyone else work is a necessary burden in order to live. The young need to be other than single-minded to find that which is most bearable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    left university in June, I was unemployed for a week, went to the job centre to sign on and I realised I was wasting my time with them, they suggested I look for bar work rather than apply my honours degree, went onto monster got a job in less than a week, 30k and still receiving job offers even though I’ve turned off my profile. Poor choices and laziness results in unemployment not lack of luck

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I got my job by bunging my CV on monster.


    CV up, wait two days, interview, job. Decided to change jobs, update CV on monster, wait two days, interview, job.

    Getting a job isn't hard - it's finding one that is rewarding that's the difficult bit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    continued from #69:

    After completing LPC, another 3 months unemployed, job hunting (mostly law firms), somehow I ended up working in insurance claims for a multinational insurance co. After a year of working there I was looking to progress within - gave up on the law dream. Then out of the blue I get a call from one of the firms I applied to asking for an interview. Finally made it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Knowing the right people helps massively. But for everyone else it's about perseverance. I left uni and was unemployed for the best part of a year sending out numerous applications on a daily basis. I wanted to be a solicitor (I studied law at a Russell Group university) - I got a job in IT sales. Saved for a year to fund my LPC... to be continued (not enough characters!)...

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Viktor Frank is a Holocaust survivor and a famous psychologist. He often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he found only two races of men to exist: decent and unprincipled ones. Unfortunately, our younger generation doesn’t show enough decency to their prospect employers.

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    There is a large part of our society who won't succeed simply because of their ego. Those, for instance, who refuse to start at the bottom of the ladder because their friend from school didn't. My advice, work as hard as you can, be prepared to get your hands dirty, go the extra mile and remember your manners. Success in anything is rarely achieved by luck, but by grafting.


Page 3 of 7


More Business stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.