Guardian G2: How unemployed young people see the internet

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When you’re unemployed, the world doesn’t look the same as it does for everybody else. Ads are taunting you, price tags are mocking you. If you have ever wondered why a jobless young person opens a seemingly harmless website and sighs, sobs or swears, read on – here’s what they’re seeing.

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On GoThinkBig: Guide to coffee shop jobhunting – how to get out of your house when applying for jobs

GoThinkBigI love doing my work in coffee shops. It’s one of the very few things I miss about full-time unemployment (that and…um…nothing). GoThinkBig‘s Stevie Martin gives a comprehensive BUDGET guide to getting the hell out of the house to apply for jobs…

Get out of your house when applying for jobs - here's our guide to coffee shops (on a budget)

Applying for jobs while still in bed isn’t the best motivator – apart from the fact that you’re definitely going to fall asleep, it’s hard to write about how professional you are while wearing a onesie. Get yourself out and into a coffee shop – it’s not just for poshos with MacBooks.

a) Some form of laptop. We’ve heard there are types other than MacBooks. Any with a wifi connection will do you proud.

b) A bit of swagger

c) Clothes that are suitable for the outdoors ie. probably not your pyjamas

d) Headphones for blocking out screaming children, couples and coffee machines (they often make scream-y sounds)

1. There’s only so much you can procrastinate while sat on a table listening to Now 56 on loop surrounded by loads of people doing exactly the same thing.

2. The effect is similar to that of a library – but way less intimidating. Everyone around you is on their laptops, working. What are they DOING? God they’re so productive. Am I being as productive? Probably not. I’d better be productive then.

3. If you can spare the £1 (give or take 50p depending on what city/town/village you’re in), then a caffeine injection never made anyone less productive. Unless you’re allergic to caffeine. In which case, opt for a decaf (if you’re feeling swanky) or a herbal tea (if you’re feeling New Age-y) or even a tap water because hydration is very important.

4. Getting out of your house will focus your mind. You’re subconsciously (and probably consciously) telling yourself “I have left my house to do this task” rather than the millions of other reasons you could be sitting in your living room. Why else do you sit in your living room? To watch TV, lounge about and poke the dog with your foot. Why else do you go to a coffee shop alone armed with a laptop and a load of job applications? There is no other reason. You can’t help but focus on the task at hand.

If you’re a bit poor, opt for a tea (see above for alternatives) and nurse the crap out of that tea for as long as you need. None of this “oooh but that’s rude” business. The staff couldn’t give less of a hoot how long their customers stay there for and nobody is about to kick you out. You’re making the coffee shop look popular. They should be paying you to be there, tbh.

If you’re totally broke, hone in on a table that nobody has cleared yet. Sweep one of the mugs off said table and transfer it to your own table. While staff members might notice a huge tray of stuff to be cleared, they won’t remember that lone coffee cup – so it looks like you’ve already bought something and drank it. Double points if there’s still a bit of coffee in it, not for drinking purposes (please for the love of all things sacred don’t drink someone else’s leftover coffee) but for “Oh that guy’s halfway through his coffee he definitely bought it while working” purposes.

Don’t make eye contact with anyone. This isn’t for any other reason than it can get a bit awkward; I have a tendency to stare into the distance, which often means I look into other people’s eyes for ages and make them feel uncomfortable. One man asked me out on a date because he thought I was flirting with him. He was around sixty, really drunk and smoking a pipe indoors (I used to apply for jobs in a Wetherspoons. Wouldn’t recommend it).

Scout for deals. O2 have this sweet thing going on with a variety of companies that mean O2 customers get free wifi where there otherwise wouldn’t be any available (type in your postcode here to find your nearest freebie hotspot). They also have deals with Caffe Nero and you can get free tea and coffe in Debenhams cafes. where you get 20% off – great if you get starving and really need one of those overpriced paninis. With 20% off, they’re just… paninis. Mmm cheese. Anyway.

Be a nomad. Skipping from coffee shop to coffee shop throughout the day will break your focus – but try and liven things up on a day-to-day basis by chopping and changing your caffeinated office space. One day a Starbucks, the next a Costa, and so on. It’ll prevent you from getting that awful “Ugh here we go again” feeling every time you walk through the door.

Read more of Stevie’s fantastic GoThinkBig posts here. She’s also on Twitter, obviously, she is not an animal.

On – HMRC targets music firms in unpaid internship crackdown

This incredibly helpful article from outlines the startling increase in penalties for not paying interns. HMRC say, “we’re letting the music industry know that we’ve got them in our sights.” HM Revenue and Customs has announced that it is … Continue reading

From zero to hero: five down-and-out jobseeker success stories – Guardian Professional

I wrote this for Guardian Professional with the #Pyjarmy in mind. Some of the most successful people started out worse off than you or I. If they made it, why shouldn’t we?Mr Walt Disney sits at his drawing board in his studio, drawing a sketch of Mickey Mouse

Disney’s pitch for the much-loved character of Mickey Mouse was rejected, some sources say, 300 times. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

To the million jobseekers out there, I’m imagining you’re on your sofa, lying on your face, lifting your head for the occasional perusal of a still-empty inbox – an understandable reaction to the crushing despair of unemployment.

It doesn’t help to see dismal employment figures, commentary on why the younger generation is doomed, and absolutely nothing to make you feel better about it.

So I’d like to attempt a short-term remedy, a mixture of inspiration and schadenfreude – five down-and-out jobseekers who clawed their way to the top.

5. Ricky Gervais

Gervais was a failed pop star and an unsuccessful manager long before he was a super successful writer, director and actor. At university he couldn’t afford two types of soap – he had to choose between washing his clothes or himself (in the end he did both; Daz, he informs us, is “quite a good exfoliate”).

In his 30s he landed a job at the radio station XFM, where he realised he didn’t understand radio and hired Stephen Merchant to “do all the boring stuff”. In 1998, they were both made redundant.

Luckily, Merchant cast Gervais in a short film about a “seedy boss” for a BBC production course, which we now know as The Office. It became the most successful British sitcom ever.

4. Jim Carrey 

The Canadian funnyman was a high school dropout, working as a janitor and security guard to help pay the family bills. They lost their home and were forced to live in a van. He then moved to LA to struggle on the stand-up comedy scene before going into the out-of-work-actor business.

While, yes, it sucks to get rejected with the robotic line, “Due to the high volume of applications…”, at least most of us don’t have to spend weeks watching the guy who got the job beam at you from the side of a hundred buses. Before Carrey got his big break on the TV sketch comedy show In Living Color, he was rejected from leading roles in Saturday Night Live, Sixteen Candles, Bachelor Party, Legend, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Back to School and Edward Scissorhands.

But it was worth the wait. Now, aged 52, he’s estimated to be worth$20mn.

3. Walt Disney

The man behind children’s stories had a rough time on his way to billionaire status. When he dropped out of high school at 16 to enlist in the army during the first world war, he was rejected for being too young. At 18, he started drawing political caricatures, but they didn’t catch on and he was fired by his editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.

Disney started a business with a cartoonist, and it failed, as did his second business. In fact, he went bankrupt five times before he found success with Disneyland, which was also rejected by the city of Anaheim, Orange County, because it would “only attract riffraff”. At one point Disney was so skint he survived on dog food.

He also faced a lot of ridicule. His project of turning Snow White into a feature-length animation, was called “Disney’s folly“. He even ran out of funding during production, and had to show loan officers a rough cut to secure enough cash to finish it.

His pitch for the much-loved character of Mickey Mouse was rejected too – he was told it would never work because a giant mouse on the screen would “terrify women”. Despite enduring rejection and ridicule, between 1932 and 1969 Disney won 22 Academy Awards and was nominated 59 times – more than anyone else in history.

2. JK Rowling

Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel at rock bottom: “I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.” She survived on benefits, sometimes going without dinner so she could feed her children.

The first manuscript was rejected by 12 publishers. The 13th publisher accepted it at the behest of the only person it seems had actually bothered to read it – the chief executive’s eight-year-old daughter.

The books did rather well, and Rowling was the first female novelist to become a billionaire – although now, after a spate of charitable giving,she’s back to being a humble millionaire.

1. Abraham Lincoln

In his book, Emotional Equations, Chip Conley notes how Abraham Lincoln had a rough time too, almost drowning, losing his mother when aged nine, his fiancée and sister when he was 26 – not to mention getting malaria, syphilis, smallpox, and kicked in the head by a horse.

Lincoln failed in business aged 21. Two years later he ran for state legislature, lost his job and was rejected from law school. He bounced back and started a business on borrowed money, but was bankrupt within a year.

At 28, he was defeated as a speaker of the state legislature. He ran for the US House of Representatives and lost at age 33. He tried again at age 39, and lost. Not to worry – at age 45 he ran for the US Senate and lost again. He also lost when he ran for his party’s vice presidential nomination at age 47. And again at the US Senate at age 49. But at the age of 51, he became the president of the US.

So, how’s your job hunt going?

It may seem like these superhumans, these titans in their field, these “absolute legends” are nothing like the young people of today, who seem to be educated to the eyeballs but lack opportunities. But if we can learn anything from their stories, it’s not that success comes from sending as many CVs and cover letters as you can in a day. It’s identify what you love, then bang away at it like a relentless idiot until something brilliant happens.

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