'YOUNG & JOBLESS', MONTH 3: CRAIG'S THOUGHTS

Since February I've been on a roller coaster of emotions, some good and some bad. This experience has changed everything in my life....

My surroundings, my thoughts, my mind set, my passion, my confidence, my ambition. I find it hard to remember what kind of person I was like before the program. I don't know if that is because I don't want to remember, or if it is because so much has happened in the last 4 months? The only thing I do know is that I feel alive again and I feel like the future has some good prospects for me. I am in no way shape or form delusional enough to think that my life is perfect or that I have reached my goal. If anything its far from it.

After I have paid my rent I have £23 a week to live off, London life is pretty tough but I am addicted to being out of my comfort zone and I thrive off being challenged. Each day is a learning curve. I'm not only learning new things about design and the industry but I am learning things about myself too. I have been living in London for 6 weeks now and I am currently on my second internship with OllyStudio, which was supposed to end after a week, but I am now in my second week and I have been asked to do a third, which I have happily accepted. This experience with OllyStudio has been amazing so far. I have learned so much within the last 2 weeks again not just about design and the industry but also about my capabilities and myself as a designer.

Every day I walk home with a smile on my face because I have achieved something. I also do designs at night when I get home and at the weekends for Oath magazine, which is due to launch any time soon. Every contact and opportunity that I come across I grab with both hands and use it. My plan for now is to carry on working as an intern and working for Oath magazine. I want to be in a particular part of the design industry so I need to focus on learning more from my internships and work experience so that I can eventually get my folio of work to a standard that would be acceptable to even gain an interview.

I have a mountain to climb but I am more than willing to put the work in to get where I want to be. I cannot comprehend why this sort of program or parts of the program at least are part of the job centre’s initiatives. The biggest thing that has changed my life has been speaking to people within my chosen industry. I spent 2 hours with my mentor Richard Joseph and that was the turning point for me. The advice and comments he gave me were invaluable. Then again when I was introduced to Wayne from Adrem who are career consultants for the design industry. How can an advisor at thTwo men sit at a tabele job centre have enough knowledge for every industry? It's impossible.

Maybe successful people in key industries need to take a responsibility and get involved like my mentor Richard Joseph and Wayne Euston-Moore did? In total I have probably had 6 hours of professional advice. The cost of this can't amount to 2 years of being on benefits. I don't know what the answer is to our unemployment problem but I do know these are key questions that need answering, as the help you get at the job centre is non existent or pointless.

I also think more needs to be done for the people that are doing full time unpaid internships and work experience. I think little things like discounted travel or even a free travel card can make huge differences. Having to walk 8 miles a day to get to and from your internship because you cant afford the travel expenses can take its toll after a while. Being unable to buy meat or the correct foods can also take its toll after a while. Food stamps for those that are working for nothing should be considered.

If this is something that the government is unwilling to consider then more needs to be done to put pressure on those companies that are using unpaid interns. Even though my experience so far has been tough I have never been happier. I do miss my friends, family, the northern banter and a proper pasty and I may not have any money and I may look like a malnourished 12 year old boy but I have added an extra hole in my belt and I have a smile and a confident swagger as I now have a purpose in life and that is something you can not put a price on.

I would like to thank those people that have been involved with this program, not just my mentors but also the people behind the scenes working hard researching etc, I don't think it would be sufficient to say 'thank you'. My way of saying thank you to everyone involved is to work hard and actually make my dream of being a designer come true. I say dream, but it’s beginning to look more like reality now. This is just the beginning for me.

'This is a guest post from Craig who took part in the 'NOISE Young & Jobless' radio documentary series, broadcast over 4 months on BBC 5Live in 2012. The programme followed four unemployed young people as they looked for work, hooking them up with mentors and advice on their journey. For more information about this project, the participants and mentors --seehere--