Monday, 12 March 2012

Dear Generation Standstill... get moving!

A recent Grazia (05th March) featured an article "We're best friends, talented... and jobless", profiling four girls who had gone to university together and now find themselves as one of the "1.04 million jobless 16 to 24-year-olds in Britain". These four girls, having worked and played hard together through university, are now a statistic of the "one in four graduates are out of work" variety.

Whilst I can appreciate a country recovering from a recession, economic downturn, crippling student debt and a very overpriced housing market are all big obstacles for today's youth trying to move from semi-adult to adult-adult; I didn't actually have much sympathy for these four girls. They spoke of a lack of social life (try having a baby), not being able to shop (try running a family budget), they spoke about not being able to date (I would suggest you are dating the wrong kind of man if you being unemployed, but looking to be, is an issue), they mentioned jobs such as temping and babysitting as being beneath their university-educated selves (I immediately thought they are obviously not proper starving nor suffering if this is the case!).

One girl had studied a Modern History degree and wanted to work in Advertising. Er, why Modern History to then work in Advertising? What about a Commercial Business qualification or a course that offered an internship or mentoring programme? I don't for a minute suggest that if you choice a course relevant to a specific job you will automatically get employed, but if the market is so darn tough then really you should be giving yourself as much chance as possible.

To the girl who has to temp to earn some cash, forget temping in a restaurant and get yourself into a recruitment agency. Forget the cocktails in London town, put your hard earned cash under the mattress and work harder on your plan to move into something permanent. Face each new temp job like it could be the one that opens doors for you to something else. Network. A lot.

Another of the girls has moved back in with her parents, she feels it is tough but knows she is lucky to have that option. Her mother sent her an article about passion in your job being overrated and that you should just take a job. This suggests to me that her mom is trying to help her get out the house and into a job... You might want to get a job you love, but if there are limited-to-no opportunities for this "dream job" at the moment, then can you not be working in an environment that will give you access to these opportunities? Working in a gallery coffee shop? Attending local events, submitting articles to a relevant magazine or newspaper?

I kind of get the feeling these girls are pouring over the job section waiting for something to come up that fits their profile. Are they not getting feedback from the potential employers after an interview? Where are the gaps in their CVs, how can they fix these? Are they not asking these questions? Lack of experience is a difficult hurdle, but what about a free internship? What about local networking communities, online forums? Moving countries? Starting their own business? Anything!

Apologies girls, am sure if you ever read this you will take it very personally, however you did put yourself and your stories in a magazine. A celebrity of any kind always get two kinds of feedback, think Rihanna and Chris Brown or Madonna and her single mum woes. Pretty sure you will also rant about "who the hell am I" with my opinions, but believe it or not I was also a semi-adult once. And, I too had a dream.

But, here's the thing... we all have to start somewhere! From where I'm sitting none of you seem to be starving, homeless, terminally ill or severely disabled. Generation Standstill? Why? Get a move on, you all come across as nice, bright, educated and decent girls so make a change. Make some decisions, get your mojo back and get out there.

P.S Am actually a nice person really, just got a little "bee/bonnet" like with this feature. I worked in some pretty interesting and completely non-relevant jobs in my time and managed to build a fairly successful career along the way. Of course, I then jacked it in to be a stay-at-home-mother, but that story is for another day and another post.
P.P.S Obviously this post doesn't account for every single reason semi-adults are unemployed in today's climate, but is relevant to the four girls featured in the magazine.


  1. Hi Suz - thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, because of the terrible journalism in Grazia (the piece preceding ours was based on the shoes Marie Colvin liked to wear) we were of course grossly misrepresented. I decided to do the interview because a friend of mine who works in PR asked me, and, being jobless, I thought it would be a fun day out - which, despite what you might think, are few and far between when you are unemployed.

    Whilst I don't think I have to justify myself to an internet ranter, you've taken the time to write a whole blog post us, so I thought I'd correct you - on my own behalf at least.

    I have worked consistently since the age of 15 - paper-round, saturday girl in a hair salon, cleaner, babysitter, waitress, hostess, secretary, typist, runner, telesales, street fundraising - you name the crap job, I've done it! To suggest I am picky about how I earn my money is ludicrous - but now having graduated, I would expect my career to go in a direction that used my skills. Looking for a "dream job" may not be possible at the moment, but I refuse to spend the rest of my life in a job I hate, or with a life I end up resenting, as some stay at home mothers may end up feeling.

    Working has allowed me to pay my way through life and the Masters degree I completed at UCL in September to try and advance my chances of getting a job. It also paid for my three month volunteer placement in Palestine which I only returned from two months ago. I was there documenting human rights violations and supporting the work of student activists. The paid work I do in the evenings and weekends is now allowing me to undertake an unpaid internship as a research assistant to a group of academics and journalists.

    But none of that is "newsworthy" for Grazia - my friends and I don't just have degrees, we have work experience, glowing references, volunteer history, leadership qualities, and a whole host of skills from the various extracurricular activities we have all been engaged in.

    You seem to write off "a country recovering from a recession, economic downturn and crippling student debt" as something that actually translates as these girls are bloody lazy. Look at the bigger picture Suze - our politicians are failing young people, and we aren't even experiencing the brunt of it. But now "white, educated, middle-class, fashionable girls" can't get a job there must be a problem! Grazia is a terrible publication, a Daily Mail for those who think they are above it, and to be quite honest, you should be embarrassed to read the drivel they come out with, just as I regret doing the interview.

    What's the current state of the economy? Who cares cos SamCam has new shoes!

    1. Thanks so much for responding! I am delighted that you took the time to fill in the gaps from your Grazia Interview, however am sorry to hear you regret doing it. The Masters Degree and volunteer work you mentioned was a far more interesting read than the interview I commented on and again, I am pleased you took the time to respond. Good luck with future ventures and I look forward to a follow-up feature in the new future. x