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 125.

    You should be realistic about your expectations and ignore features like this. For the vast majority of people (>95%) the "dream job" and "career ladder" simply don't exist and never will. Most people find their job boring and unrewarding. A job is essentially a means to an end, it gets you the money with which to survive, enjoy life, and prepare for the future. Recognise this and you'll be happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    When there are between 37 - 70 applicants for every job it takes more than just a top CV to get somewhere. I've got a 1st class degree and I've done everything from founding a society to assistant teaching to unpaid internships since I was 14. Yet, I'm apparently unemployable because I haven't had a single interview despite the hundreds of applications I've sent. It is incredibly demoralising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    It seems sad when the BBC have to publish articles like this, simply to give youngsters some form of hope for their future and for getting a job in these times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    And don't get me started on stupid HR people! What a useless, self serving profession that is"

    I agree, HRs soul purpose is to keep the worker bees in place and defend management no matter how immorral or injust. Thats why there is a lot of money in HR.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    I finished university in Australia in 2004 and decided to clear my head by cycling 2500km from Adelaide to Sydney. Half-way I met an Italian doing the same. He isa captain of big yachts in the Med. We chatted, kept in touch, and 5 months later I bought a one-way ticket to Italy, where I worked for him as a deckhand, without any experience. I now live in Spain, doing something completely different!

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    @ smellygingercat

    What a curious place to disparage media related degrees, the website of the largest media organisation in the world. Why waste your time with something apparently so worthless?

    What defines real work exactly? Is, for example, working in a factory that makes Bratz dolls always superior to making an award winning documentary sold around the world?

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    For each of these young people who managed to get a job by some coincidence or perseverence or whatever ... how many others who have tried equally hard have had no success? I think a large part of the "secret" is pure luck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    My son (22) graduated this year and what I saw was a passionately determined attitude to getting a job...not any job, he focused all his attention on only one and got it.
    But to do that he honed his CV to perfection: trained in interview and group discussion performance; sought advice from company employees; practiced presentations; used the careers service, and thankfully appreciated all help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    After sixth form (I didn't do well) I decided to get a job at Morrisons. Whilst working there for 2 years, I found out that I wanted a career in IT (my passion). I saved-up, got my driving licence and spent £1400 on education (CCNA for you IT pros) and I'm an apprentice for a very profitable German company who have payed for a degree. It took me 70 applications, but I got there. Dont give up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    I got my first decent, i.e. salaried, job recently.

    I got it through a friend.

    Having the right qualifications helped, but it's just as important to be in the right place at the right time with the right pals.

    So much is down to LUCK!

    These kids here think they've got some special qualities, but it's just luck, luck, luck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I'm a Spanish qualified pharmacist who, due to the economic situation in Spain, has emigrated to the UK. Few months ago, I created a blog where I share my experiences and the process to be registered as a pharmacist in this country ( I like to know I'm helping other people with the same situation.
    You have to be creative, patient and persevering.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    I finished my college diploma in Aviation, decided to take a gap year before going on to doing an Aviation Management Degree. I decided to do this so I could get more experience working in the industry before going to university in 2013. I'm now working as Cabin Crew for a UK Airline.
    I would advise one to be mature about their goals, gain experience to back up your studies. Never give up looking

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    '111.widgeon '

    I completely agree with you. The main problem with British Industry is poor managers; and lazy senior managers who promote stupid lower managers. Stupid managers who don't understand it's the front line customer service that matters, not their own careers. And don't get me started on stupid HR people! What a useless, self serving profession that is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I would advise young people to accept that it will take longer than you expect to achieve what you want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I may have dreamed about jobs at one time. After a few years of being rejected for jobs and then working for lazy, incompetant bullies who got their jobs through personal contacts I now dream of torturing managers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Oh, forgot to mention that it helps if mummy and daddy are 'successful'. People who are successful usually inherit it - not always, but usually. But if you tell them this they'll bang their fists in denial.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Don't forget self-employment. In this internet age there are countless possibilities for suitably skilled and imaginative people with good ideas. Often a business can be started with very little capital.

    I started with a "proper" job but now I'm self employed and would have it no other way. My business has customers from all over the world, nearly all come via my web site.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    I have the necessarily qualifications to be employed by an airline, but have not been able to find anyone who wants to give a newbie pilot a shot they're just not out there unless you pay for a type rating for their aircraft. Its ridiculous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    I work at being a human being, with mixed success. I don't get paid for this job, however I'm proud that (a) I don't suck up to anyone and (b) I don't define myself by what I 'do'.

    What's apparent from the individuals in the article is how the 'big break' seems to be some chance encounter - ie luck - through family or friend connections...

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    To become more competitive I work under the minimum wage, pay higher tax, and accept pension. I also prefer a contract where I can be fired without reason at anytime. I am a socialist however so I am happy that we are all equal now. Broke. lol. Serious note, well done to the people who are doing well at the moment I am sure they will help change the world for the better.


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