In the current economic climate, nobody knows more than graduates just how difficult it can be to get a job. But whilst the job prospects may be bleak, more and more graduates are realising that the time is right to actually create their own jobs by developing their entrepreneurial skills and ambitions. At TheEmployable we love hearing about people who have taken the initiative and done just that. So we are delighted this week to have an inspirational guest post from Paul Malone, Co-Founder and Editor of exciting new hyperlocal e-Newspaper, Newry Times explaining how he has made the move from unemployed graduate to entrepreneur….
My name is Paul Malone and I am a 25 year old graduate from Newry, Co.Down. Like most of you who will read this, I too was an unemployed graduate with no job prospects. I graduated from university in July 2011 with a BSc Honours Degree in Politics and Criminology and found myself in £25,000 of student debt and taking my place in the Dole queue.
I applied for jobs constantly, even ones I knew I would despise, and sometimes I felt a huge surge of relief when I got the ‘Sorry you have not been successful on this occasion’ letter. Most jobs I applied for though, I simply never heard back from again. It seems that common courtesy goes out the window during recessions. I was working for just over a year on a freelance basis for a local newspaper and I returned from a nice holiday in September 2011 to find that I no longer had a guaranteed income. It’s a shocking economic climate we’re all going into right now, we have all left the bubble of university life and student loans to the realisation that we’re into the big bad world of work – or in our case – lack of work.
Gutted at how I felt I was being treated, I vowed never to work in the media industry again and made a promise to myself that I would do all in my power to never have to work for anybody else again and let them have that sort of power over whether I had enough money to survive each week. I’d never been particularly interested in the mechanisms of the business world but I went down to the local library and immersed myself in every single business-related book I could find, ranging from autobiographies from Dragon’s Den entrepreneurs to ‘Business for Dummies’.
My girlfriend Emma was having an even harder time finding a job, despite having a First Class Honours Degree. Some of the interviews she went for were absolutely horrendous, and like me, a lot of the time they never got back to her. We were both disillusioned with the whole country and decided that as soon as possible we would emigrate to Canada in search of a decent life and career. Then the elusive business idea I’d been searching for came, but not to me, to Emma.
Emma had a chance meeting with a Donegal-based journalist who started his own hyperlocal news website and Emma explained this to me in detail. I must admit I was sceptical at first, worried about how huge a task it would be for the two of us. We needed more help. Another friend (Declan McAteer) came onboard, his expertise was in website design and like Emma and I, he was an unemployed graduate trying his best to survive. So we had our team, with each of us bringing something different to the table. We knew we were going to have to work hard but we were on benefits, so it wasn’t as if we had not got time to spare and utilise.
With the three of us raring to go we got the website built and established contacts throughout the Newry and Mourne area and officially launched Newry Times – www.newrytimes.com – on 30th November 2011. Declan also created a Smartphone app for news, the first of its kind in our area and to date it has enjoyed phenomenal success. We anticipated a slow crawl towards attracting visitors and were flabbergasted as our website stats, hits and frequent visitors shot through the roof day after day. We knew we were offering something unique – and in our view better – than what was already out there but we didn’t realise just how much people would love our new business.
Our days are long and our workload is pretty big but we really enjoy what we do and we know we’re providing a free service to people that is unrivalled. Our success prompted BBC producers to get in touch and film a ‘Spotlight’ documentary about unemployed graduates and their struggle to find a job and the exposure we got from this took us to a whole new level. As well as I, Emma and Declan, we also have several contributors onboard who write about topics such as sport, science, and politics. For us, it’s incredible how talented these contributors are and yet they haven’t been snapped up by other media outlets.
Our business journey has only started and I think the three of us bring our own experience and passion to Newry Times so there is no reason why you can’t do the same. Don’t worry about finding a job; create your own work and income! What I would suggest you do is speak with other friends who are unemployed right now, each of you write down what you think you are really good at and then try and think of a business where all your strengths are maximised.
Expect knock-backs and hard work but picture how good it will be when you get your first wage packet, knowing that your wage came from an initial idea of your own which you followed through with. Business, to me anyway, is about creating something that will get you off benefits and ensure you never have to fill in another application form or cover letter. What can be better than that?
If you are looking to start your own business, think you have a creative idea or you are a self starting business champion then find out more about Startacus the online community celebrating the self starter – launching soon…