I don’t know, man; I’ve never graduated from uni. 

But I know that you don’t want to hear the ultra-wise statement “get a job”, which is conveniently the only phrase your teachers and parents are currently able to say.

Perhaps first of all, congratulate yourself on being able to stick to one thing for the past three or four years. That’s probably longer than any of your previous (or current) relationships.

One of the reasons why university drop outs are less favoured in job interviews compared to graduates is because they couldn’t stick to one thing for a few years. 

In a job interview I had after I dropped out, the interviewer asked me: “Why should we hire you for a long-term position if you’re going to change your ambitions just months down the line?” That’s a valid point.

In any case, there’s a lot of anxiety, stress, nervousness, and general discomfort that surrounds the university experience. Being able to push through that for several years deserves an academic pat on the back.

So, now what? 

Well, here’s one thing you can do. Or keep doing, actually. 

Make sure you maintain your close friendships. 

University is tough, of course, but while you’re attending, you’re also surrounded by your best friends almost every day. It’s inevitable that you’ll grow accustomed to the familiar faces and perhaps take those friendships for granted. But now that uni is over, you’ve lost a certain structure because your life was (perhaps more loosely, but generally) based around university schedules, classes, meet-ups, etc. 

That’s gone. 

And now you’re armed with one degree and that’s about it. And it’s not even a useful degree. And there are hundreds of thousands of more qualified individuals doing way better than you at absolutely everything. And they’re all in shape and know how to do their taxes.

Good friends are terribly hard to find. But once found, they make for a pretty solid structure.

I think people are getting better at adopting the Instagram personality in public and reverting to the “tagged pictures” personality in private. And even more so in cities like London, I’d say, because most “affordable” shared flats here don’t even have living rooms. So we’re all just being depressed in our own rooms and then act like we’re all put together in class. So finding a real “I feel like shit” face in a crowd of “hey mate how’s it going” takes a while.

Thankfully, you’ve had a few years to find some real faces and make some pleasant acquaintances. Perhaps even some friends. Even if it’s just one. 

And it probably is just one.

One time, while I was still in uni, I was invited to join the boys at the pub, but I had no money, so I said, “I have no money.” However, my uneducated friend Dustin told me, “If I have money, you have money.” And that was an incredibly powerful statement that I’ll never forget.

But he also had no money.

However, you can usually get a soda and lime for free if you ask nicely, and it’s always better to drink a damn soda and lime with a good friend than by your miserable, educated self.

Saturday, 23 February 2019. Sofar Sounds invited Selin to play an acoustic gig at someone’s house in North London. Sounds cool, we’re in. At around 18:45 we arrived at the house – it was more of a mansion – set up our gear in the living room, and then left to get some beer for the duration of the show. We walked for about five minutes to get to the nearest Waitrose. Selin texted me and asked if I can buy her some jaffa cakes. I had about three pounds on my card so I managed to buy a small bottle of water and a bag of mini jaffa cakes. Dustin and Ollie (guitarist and bassist respectively) got the beers. Good lads. Dustin handed me a beer for the walk back.

“Crouch End is a hub for independent shopping and cafe life with a plethora of vintage and second-hand boutiques and quiet residential streets lined with period property. No wonder it’s so popular with artists and their children” writes newspaper Ham&High. And that’s true. The area also looks respectful, dare I say posh or perhaps even luxurious.

Which is probably why we got surrounded by about seven black guys on our way back to the show.

It was dark and the streetlights were few and far between. No CCTV cameras, no other residents or pedestrians around. They approached us from behind, so we didn’t notice them until they blocked us off and backed us against a wall.

“Where you from?” one of them asked me. They pushed us around a bit. I didn’t answer. “Give me your phone” someone else said. They didn’t pull out any knives or weapons. So I said, “I’m not giving you my phone, dude.” Then one of them reached for my phone, which was in my jacket pocket. I pushed him away and repeated myself. I realized that they were quite young. They looked like they were between the ages of 12 and 18. “Give me your wallet then,” he said. I told him I don’t have a wallet on me. Someone else reached for my phone but couldn’t grab it. “Stop doing that, you always do that!” one of them told him, indicating that this isn’t their first time attempting to steal from strangers. “Give me your money motherfucker!” he shouted. So I explained to him that we don’t have any money on us; in fact, we were on our way to play a gig to earn some money. He looked a bit confused when I said that. I offered him my bag of mini jaffa cakes. “I literally spent my last pounds on this bag of cookies,” I told him. He ungratefully replied, “I don’t want your fucking cookies man!” Well too bad, dude, coz that’s all I’m willing to part with.

I don’t remember seeing this happening myself, but Ollie told me that they took his phone and asked for his passcode, which he didn’t give them, and then they realized it was an Android so they handed it back to him. Gotta have standards when robbing people.

They did get a hold of Dustin’s wallet, though. It contained all of his personal bank cards, his company credit card, his driver’s license, his Oyster travel card, and thankfully no cash.

We managed to shuffle around a little bit to create some space between the three of us, which meant that the group surrounding us spread out as well. Once some space opened up between the gang, I made a run for it. Ollie and Dustin ran in different directions, so they didn’t know whom to go after, which allowed us to remove ourselves from the situation. Kind of.

One of them caught up to me and tried to trip me. I was still holding my can of beer, so I threw it at him and it hit his chest. A middle-aged man turned the corner and was walking towards us, so I told him “They’re trying to steal from us!” His response was, “Yeah, yeah” and he kept walking. But the fact that this man showed up was enough to scare the robber away. He turned around, ran down the road, and joined the rest of the gang who were off to who knows where.

A few seconds later I met up with Ollie who was already on the phone with the police. Dustin came walking back up the road, also on his phone with his banks to block his cards. He eventually managed to block them and as far as I am aware, no payments were made with any of those cards after the robbery.

The police arrived, so we got in the van and patrolled the area to see if we can spot the group in alleys or stores. We couldn’t find them. It was funny looking at the expressions of people walking around and seeing three young men in a police car. A woman smirked at me as if to say, “Serves you right.” The police took our details and dropped us off back at the house.

We composed ourselves, opened our beers, had a smoke, and tried to calm down a bit. Unfortunately, we missed the other acts, but I heard they were great.

Well, then it was our turn to close the night with some of Selin’s originals and two covers.

News spread pretty quickly about the incident, so I’m sure that played a part in the sympathy of the audience when we performed because that was the most respectful and attentive crowd I’ve ever played for. It was an absolutely amazing and thoroughly enjoyable experience and definitely one of the best gigs I’ve played sofar. Or so far. Nice one Jan, you really nailed it with that one.

We’re all fine. Nobody is hurt or traumatized or anything. It was unnecessary and unfortunate, but thankfully everyone is alright. It could have been much worse.

Here’s something I want to leave you with: If you’re young and you have no caring guidance in your life, it is easy to slip into crime. It’s easy to make crime a career. Where else would you get your money if you have no skills to offer a potential employer? If you are like that, try to educate yourself. If you can’t do that, at least try to do some good. And if you don’t know how to do that, then at least try not to do something you know to be bad. Crime is the lazy way out. Learn how to use your aggression in the right way. Put that energy into something good. Play football. Build something. Make music. Perhaps you’ll even earn your money doing that.

Let me be the new Mini Jaffa Cakes Brand Ambassador

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before. It’s been turned into memes and it’s a popular statement among young people who work in jobs that don’t require much or any experience.

I mean, of course! Why would we be required to put in more effort for the legally least amount of compensation? Add to the notion that career advancement opportunities and substantial raises are nothing but empty promises because no matter how hard we work or how well we do our jobs we don’t receive any of it. And on top of all that, it’s likely that we don’t even enjoy our jobs, so there is virtually no motivational ground for us to put in 110% every day. It just doesn’t add up!

You know, in 1945, the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen contained around 65,000 prisoners. That’s no mere housing complex; that’s an actual city. It was so large, in fact, that the main camp was subdivided into about 30 sub-camps that utilized forced labor to produce German armaments.

One of the sub-camps was a shoe production facility called “Schuhläuferkommando” which means something like “the shoe walking unit.” The malnourished, disease-ridden prisoners were made to walk in circles for about 40 kilometers each day in new shoes on a track consisting of different surfaces such as gravel, sand, and broken stones.

The SS officers didn’t think this was malevolent enough, so they forced the workers to wear shoes that were two sizes too small while carrying sacks of sand weighing 20 kilograms.

The reason this story is important is that the guards exploited the need for humans to engage in useful activities and rendered it completely meaningless. It was a successful attempt to ruin the human experience to the degree that it’s almost hard to truly comprehend.

If hell exists, that’s it.

Now that we’ve established the nature of hell, let’s take a look at a more optimistic scenario.

If you happen to occupy a position in the minimum wage category, you have successfully set yourself apart from the jobless by acquiring a role in the oversaturated working class, which is a remarkable accomplishment in itself.

Great, but my job is meaningless and boring.”

Even if your job is “meaningless,” which it isn’t because you’re not a prisoner in a concentration camp, you can at least attempt to be the most competent force within your group of colleagues by doing your job exceedingly well. Mainly because there is an abundance of widespread incompetence across various disciplines, especially in the UK for some reason, so why not tackle that problem? You’re receiving money for it after all.

Not enough, though.”

Then ask for a raise. What an idea, right? Tell your employer three solid reasons why you deserve a raise and two solid reasons why it would be worse for the company if you didn’t receive a raise. Construct a compelling argument and present it confidently instead of conducting passive-aggressive strikes or waiting for the manager to notice your exceeding efforts because they simply won’t.

Pro tip from a former manager: Managers tend to focus more on negative things because problems need to be solved immediately. The concomitant is that they ignore most positive contributions of their employees’ continual maintenance and improvement of the company.

And what if I don’t get a raise?

Another pro tip: If you ask for a raise and your reasons are valid but you’re denied, ask to speak with your manager’s boss or consult your HR department. It’s a lot more expensive to hire new personnel than to reward existing staff for their work, and any manager worth his or her salt knows this. But make sure your argument is compelling and ideally backed by numbers because that’s what people higher up the business hierarchy care about.

What if I can’t come up with reasons to get a raise for my job?

Third pro tip: If you can’t think of any financially beneficial reasons for the company to give you a raise, create them! For what else did we go to university other than to improve our ability to think, speak, write, and create solutions? Unless the universities didn’t actually teach us those things, which is a reality we should seriously consider.

As a collective unit subdivided into individuals, us young people should aim to harness our talents and abilities and make ourselves as useful as possible in return for an appropriate reward based on the nature of our work because that’s part of where the meaning of life is. By doing so, we actively promote our generation’s willingness to make the world a slightly better place by making ourselves slightly better individuals and thus a slightly better collective unit.

To state that minimal wage necessitates minimal effort is an incredibly shallow analysis of what it means to be a useful member of a functioning society because that’s what we currently have in comparison to 80 years ago, and we damn well do not want a resurgence of hell – especially not in the time of snowflakes.