What’s It Like To Be 24 And Unemployed?


December 16, 2019

Every week, Zikoko seeks to understand how people move the Naira in and out of their lives. Some stories will be struggle-ish, others will be bougie. All the time, it’ll be revealing.

The subject of this story is a 24-year old lady who’s open to exploring any opportunity that won’t bother her home training – she likes nice offices too.


Tell me about the very first time you felt like you ‘earned’ your own money.

Does raising funds for a children’s church program count? 

When I was younger, in order to raise funds for church parties and children’s Sunday in church, we were given tickets to sell at a fixed price (I sometimes sold higher and pocketed the rest). I always finished selling my tickets so quickly that I had to start writing the names of people who wanted to buy or donate.

Or I just pocketed the money for myself. 

Someone call the EFCC.

Hahaha. I was like 7 or 8. The tickets sold for about ₦100. I’d add another ₦100 or ₦200 sometimes, and then blow the money on drinks and ice cream. But I always made sure to calculate properly so I never remitted excess, that means I never got caught by my mum. She was the pastor of the children’s church by the way. 

How did you manage to sell out fast?

Being a pastor’s child has its perks, plus I found it easy walking up to people and asking them to buy. Lord knows my neighbours were tired of me.

What else did you do in those days? 

My mum used to make Zobo and Kunu and would put them in bottles. Then she’d give them to me to sell. I hated it at the time, I used to think we were very rich growing up. 

I lived in a relatively nice house in an estate, went to one of the best schools and my mum still made me sell. 

Then one day I stumbled on my mum crying – it was time for school fees and she didn’t have money. That was when I realized we were not as wealthy as I thought we were. I was like 8. 

She used to work in finance, but she’d retired at this time. Single mum raising a bunch of kids. 2005.

Man, we got really broke those days. Tough times.

Tell me about it.

It was always a struggle. As recently as when I was in Uni – I was in my 3rd year of school, I lived at home while my sibling and family friend shared an apartment close to school and in other to make pocket money, we started selling these space cakes and made a killing. My job was to market and sell when I could or get buyers for parties and stuff.

The space cupcakes sold for ₦3k a dozen. I actually remember that we only did it when we were absolutely broke. When we were active, we did like 10-12 orders per week.

As usual, I’d either give out the money or buy nonsense.

After Uni? 

I interned at a law firm for nine months that paid ₦30k, then I went to Law School. Left September 2017, NYSC started October. Towards the end of Law School, you do an externship for six weeks. 

Did that pay?

We got paid in lunch money from our boss, hahaha. Anyway, I went for NYSC, got paid ₦10k at my place of primary assignment, add to that my NYSC ₦19,800. I saved most of it in fact, and by the time I finished NYSC in October 2019, I’d saved up to ₦140k. 

That’s not bad at all. Job hunting? 

Yeah. Sent out so many applications – 15 by my last count – attended interviews and hoping for the best.

How do you feel about it though? 

I have very little work experience, and to be honest, I’m not yet sure exactly where I’ll end up. I’m willing to explore something in PR or entertainment though. Also, the obvious thing about not having a job is being broke. 

What about your savings? 

I just checked, and it says I have ₦77 left. 7-7. 

That burn is wild, considering you had ₦140k only about a month ago.

Had to sort out something for my mum’s house. Then I borrowed some out, and now it’s taking forever for them to return it. The rest, I just ate out with it.

I’m not really good with money. You know how cranky you get when you’re broke? That’s me 24/7 these days. Then there’s the almost hopeless feeling that you should be doing more or better. 

There’s also my family who think I’m not doing enough to get a job, and all the people asking “What next?”

Let’s say you had to use your degree, what are your prospects?

Law? In Nigeria? Only a handful of lawyers go back to law firms. Most people end up doing something else. Most of the lawyers I know are doing 20k-30k per month. Only very few are doing that well. The best entry-level salary for a lawyer I’ve heard of is ₦110k. It’s an “I know your parents” kind of job.

What’s the most ridiculous thing anyone has ever said to you?

“We’re not going to paying you, because you need the job experience.” I was going to be working from 8-6 and working on weekends. I was going to pay for my own transport in a time when everyone is trying to get by. That’s how ridiculous it gets.

Your alternative prospects. What’s it looking like in your city?

Currently, the prospects for a person like me is to go and get my Masters or get another degree, or some certifications. My mum has an even brighter idea.

What did she say?

She said I should go and marry. Apparently, someone in the church saw a vision. In fact, I currently have a curfew.

Wonderment.

Hahaha. I need to leave where I am. When you’re not in a city like Lagos, your options are a lot more limited. Especially if you’re in a city where almost everyone either works for an NGO, a bank, or the government.

What are some basic things you need but can’t afford?

Shoes. Clothes. I need clothes. You want to show up at an interview to make a good impression, but then you’re wearing scrappy clothes. This life.

How much is good enough for you to get by?

Anything from 70 to 100k right now, to be honest. I just want to earn.

What’s the most ridiculous thing someone has asked you to do for money?

A brother in the Lord wanted to pay for my nudes, since you’re unemployed. He gave me ‘blank cheque’ energy.

That is wild. That is gross. Sorry about that.

That’s alright. Last-last, my mother’s church member’s vision will click and I’ll just go and marry a rich man.

What’s something you wish you were better at?

I just need to learn no. People ask me for money and I give them because I can’t say no. People collect, then fail to pay back every time. Do I have sense? No.

Let’s imagine an alternate reality. What do you imagine a different life would like?

First of all, I won’t have studied Law. Something more meaningful in my life. Maybe something IT-related. I’ll probably be working in one of those cool workplaces. I’ll be able to earn and still save, and still flex. To be honest, 150k right now is enough for me to earn, save and flex right now.

I mean, a formality, but what’s your financial happiness levels on a 1-10 scale?

A solid 2. I can’t Detty December because I’m broke. All I now do is think of all the things I could have done with the money.

Is there a question you’d have wanted me to ask but I didn’t?

Ask me if I’ve considered being a Glucose Baby.

Has it ever crossed your mind to become a Glucose Baby?

Plentttty times! My Nigerian Home Training is entrenched in my bones that I can’t monetise a small part of my body. If not, I would have been living baby girl life. To be honest, I don’t even think I have the range and stamina to become a Glucose baby. I’m not even sure I have all the things needed to become a Glucose baby, like the body. I can use the ones I have and get the rest from a surgeon, but guess who doesn’t have a Surgeon? Hahahaha.

I hope you get something a solid gig soon.

Thank you!

Check back every Monday at 9 am (WAT) for a peek into the Naira Life of everyday people.
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Every story in this series can be found here.

P.S: If you ask me questions in the comments, I’m going to go ahead and ask her, then update this story with her answers. Cool?

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.