Ambitions Interrupted: 35 millennials worldwide who just want to find meaningful work

09/08/2016 09:50 am ET Updated Sep 26, 2016
Illustrations by April Y. Kasulis

After a few years of improvement, the global youth unemployment rate has returned to a level close to its all-time high, according to new data from the International Labor Organization. An estimated 71 million young people ages 15-24 are currently looking for work but can’t find it.

“Ambitions Interrupted: 35 Dream Jobs” is a digital media project from The GroundTruth Project’s YouthVoices initiative that celebrates the humanity of youth who are not giving up despite the grim numbers. Their stories demonstrate the remarkable in the unremarkable – the resilience and personal triumphs within the difficult journey from education to employment and, perhaps, landing a dream job.

In March, The GroundTruth Project, in partnership with RTI International, the Global Center for Youth Employment and The Huffington Post, asked young people from around the world, “What is your dream job? What’s standing in your way?” A panel of judges selected these 35 winners from hundreds of compelling entries from dozens of countries. 

The 35 are working to become farmers, doctors, journalists, engineers and diplomats. They represent the human potential behind the sky-high youth unemployment rates, economic inequality and political disenchantment. They are the real voices of youth demonstrating the power of their own stories. 

We invite you to share your own story and opinions on the YouthVoices platform.

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Ntipa Chola

Age: 18

Dream Job: Surgeon

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Math tutor

Challenge: Can’t afford university

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Débora Souza Silva

Age: 35

Dream Job: Documentary filmmaker and social entrepeneur

City, Country: Oakland, California

Current job/school: Independent journalist

Challenge: Funding reporting projects

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Mercy Muwaneyi

Age: 19

Dream Job: Journalist

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: High school student

Challenge: Discouraging environment

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Adriene Cabalinan

Age: 24

Dream job: Documentary filmmaker

City, Country: Midsayap, Philippines

Current job/school: Knowledge management officer at a humanitarian organization

Challenge: Low wages in the documentary film industry

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Francis Kessy

Age: 26

Dream Job: United Nations diplomat

City, Country: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Current job/school: General manager of Agripro Tanzania Limited

Challenge: Lack of networking connections

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Jacob Jewel C. Tabo

Age: 20

Dream Job: Engineer

City, Country: Antipolo City, Philippines

Current job/school: Electronics engineering student

Challenge: Lack of access to travel

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Rodrigo Elías Monge Rivas

Age: 20

Dream Job: Computers and networks engineer

City, Country: Ciudad Merliot, El Salvador

Current job/school: Computer switching and routing college student

Challenge: Financial difficulty

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Karianne Bag-ayan

Age: 18

Dream Job: Engineer

City, Country: Baguio City, Philippines

Current job/school: Agricultural engineering student

Challenge: Financial difficulties, pressure from parents

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Levy Mbewe

Age: 22

Dream job: Computer engineer

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Studying information systems, coaching kids part-time

Challenge: Financial resources are my biggest challenge

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Fatima Nicole R. Intal

Age: 17

Dream job: Motivational coach

City, Country: Manila, Philippines

Current job/school: Civil engineering college student

Challenge: The depth of dedication and sacrifice required to achieve this dream

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Khensani Ruth Mahwayi

Age: 23

Dream job: Filmmaker (producing, directing, scriptwriting)

City, Country: Johannesburg, South Africa

Current job/school: Not working or studying

Challenge: Can’t afford university

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Ruth Nyambe

Age: 18

Dream job: Journalist

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Applying to college

Challenge: Financial difficulties

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Zahrina Ghassani Diyanda

Age: 23

Dream job: Government public asset manager

City, Country: Jakarta, Indonesia

Current job/school: Management support for a real estate company

Challenge: Reversing corruption in an unpopular industry

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Sarah M. Chiteta

Age: 21

Dream job: Writer

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Part-time math coach

Challenge: Lack of role models, financial difficulties

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Nadya Okamoto

Age: 18

Dream job: Social entrepreneur

City, Country: Portland, Oregon, USA

Current job/school: University student, founder of a feminine hygiene nonprofit

Challenge: Preparation and tuition costs

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Michael Reyes

Age: 18

Dream job: Founder and CEO of a tech company

City, Country: Manila, Philippines

Current job/school: University student

Challenge: Financial difficulties, finding a mentor

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Mael Humberto Terán Cano

Age: 17

Dream job: International documentary filmmaker

City, Country: Quito, Ecuador

Current job/school: High school student; part-time worker at an internet cafe

Challenge: Financial difficulties

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Leny Rose Bildan-Ayroso

Age: 30

Dream job: Writer and filmmaker

Location: Antipolo City, Philippines

Current job: Team leader at a telemarketing company

Challenge: Unsure of how to start pursuing dream

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Caitlin Rose Smart

Age: 19

Dream job: Mental health advocate

City, Country: Auckland, New Zealand

Current job/school: University student, call center worker

Challenge: Low-paying field

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Cedric Dela Cruz

Age: 21

Dream Job: Government engineer

City, Country: Pasig City, Philippines

Current job/school: University student

Challenge: Lack of engineering jobs in the Philippines

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Teddy Mukuka

Age: 16

Dream Job: Surgeon

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: High school student

Challenge: University costs

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Mia Sheneth Daiz

Age: 12

Dream job: Photojournalist

City, Country: Quezon City, Philippines

Current job/school: 7th grade student

Challenge: Does not own a camera

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Tinka Paul

Age: 33

Dream job: International youth mentor

City, Country: Kampala, Uganda

Current job/school: Youth mentor, Innovation graduate fellow

Challenge: Lack of resources

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Ma. Jesusa Javier Torres

Age: 18

Dream job: Teacher

City, Country: Manila, Philippines

Current job/school: College student studying secondary education

Challenge: Financial difficulties

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Mariel (Mary Eleanor) Davis

Age: 29

Dream job: International development worker

City, Country: Cairo, Egypt (from New York City, USA)

Current job/school: Nonprofit communications and partnerships manager, graduate student studying management

Challenge: Keeping an open mind to unconventional career opportunities

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Ajay Levantino

Age: 22

Dream job: Hybrid street lights engineer

City, Country: Quezon City, Philippines

Current job/school: College student studying engineering

Challenge: Lack of financial resources and government support

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Swati Kamble

Age: 26

Dream job: Documentary filmmaker

City, Country: Mumbai, India

Current job/school: Film pre-production, recent graduate of master’s program

Challenge: Gender discrimination, funding for films

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Edwige Sabanko

Age: 25

Dream job: Being an entrepreneur; empowering African women

City, Country: Lomé, Togo

Current job/school: Recent college graduate studying English

Challenge: Financial resources, patriarchal society

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Meredith Sparks

Age: 26

Dream job: Interfaith Development Coordinator

City, Country: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Current job/school: Communications and advocacy assistant at a non-profit in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Challenge: Student loan debt, location

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Jacqueline Bautista

Age: 14

Dream job: Social worker or teacher

City, Country: Batangas, Philippines

Current job/school: Student

Challenge: Can’t afford university

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Brilliant Muyunda

Age: 18

Dream job: Journalist

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Coach

Challenge: Can’t afford university

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Zeanna Alexis Smith

Age: 22

Dream Job: Human Resources Manager

City, Country: Cavite, Philippines

Current job/school: Human Resources Associate

Challenge: Can’t afford university

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Mbaziira Joshua

Age: 27

Dream job: Land surveyor

City, Country: Kampala, Uganda

Current job/school: University student studying business administration, livestock farmer

Challenge: Financial difficulties

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Exodia Torrente

Age: 12

Dream job: Photojournalist

City, Country: Quezon City, Philippines

Current job/school: High school student

Challenge: None

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis

Name: Pauline Madudu

Age: 23

Dream job: Entrepreneur

City, Country: Jinja, Uganda

Current job/school: Founder and CEO of Classic Books Enterprise

Challenge: Continuing the business

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