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The daring poster boy of jobless French youth

Dan MacGuill · 15 Mar 2013, 08:15

Published: 15 Mar 2013 08:15 GMT+01:00

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Who is Louis Godart?

Louis Godart is a 23-year-old law student from Dijon who was filmed this week handing French President François Hollande his CV and asking him for an internship.

Tell me more?

On Monday afternoon, at the start of Hollande’s handshake tour in the eastern city of Dijon, Godart stopped the French president at a train station, told him he was a young college graduate, handed him his CV and asked him for an unpaid internship.

Godart’s gesture has caused a stir in France, partly for the sheer audacity of approaching the country’s most powerful person in his quest to find work, but also because the incident has intensified a conversation in France about unemployment, especially youth unemployment, which recently hit 25.7 percent.

What exactly happened?

In the video, Godart can be seen approaching the president, who had just stepped off a train from Paris. The two have the following exchange.

Godart: "Could I give you my CV?"

Hollande: "Of course"

Godart: "I’m a young college graduate, and you’re doing a lot for those without college degrees, but if you could give me an internship, this summer – unpaid – I’d even take that.”

At this point, one of Hollande’s burly aides invites Godart to give his CV to him, but the young man refuses, and continues addressing Hollande.

Godart: "Would you be prepared to do that, at least? You’re not just all talk are you? Are you a man of action?"

Hollande (smiling awkwardly): "I’ll hold on to this [CV]."

Godart: "You promise, eh? I’m counting on you Mr. Hollande."

What has the reaction been like in France?

Godart has gone from being completely anonymous in France to a bit of an overnight mini-celebrity, being featured in major national outlets like the Nouvel Observateur (“he has the gift of the gab”), Le Figaro, Europe 1 radio (“he’s a crafty one”) and Atlantico magazine.

Happily for him, his CV has also been viewed by tens of thousands who would otherwise never have seen it.

Did his stunt work?

Not yet. In an interview on Wednesday he told local Dijon news site Gazette Info he hadn't heard anything from Hollande's people in Paris, adding, "I'm still hopeful, though."

What’s his CV like anyway?

Pretty impressive, to be honest. Godart has a degree in business law, a Master’s in international business from the University of Leeds, and is about to finish an LLM in European law from the University of Liège in Belgium.

In fact, some online commentators have even suggested that with his CV, he was selling himself short by offering to work for free with President Hollande at the Elysée Palace.

Story continues below…

What have others said about him?

“Louis has put in a lot of hard slog to get this far. It’s normal and sensible he should want a good job. How could anyone have anything against him? Bravo, Louis, good luck, I’m crossing my fingers that you get an internship. And congratulations to your parents for raising a son with some fire in his belly,” said one commentator on Gazette Info.

What does he have to say for himself?

“My gesture was totally unplanned…I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think I was being a bit cheeky…but it absolutely was not a party-political act. With a different president, the problem would be exactly the same. The difficulty of bringing students into the workforce after they graduate isn’t a new one,” Godart told Gazette Info on Wednesday. 

Goddart was not the only one to confront President Hollande on his walk about in Dijon this week. The head of state was also accosted by several other French citizens (video), who had choice words for him about his job performance, and even his choice of partner, first lady Valerie Trierweiler.

The Local's French Face of the Week is a person in the news who - for good or ill - has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as French face of the week is not necessarily an endorsement.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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