By: Sydney Okafor
The mentality of fresh Africa graduate is at a crossroads right now. Most Africa student nearing their final year at a different tertiary institution are contemplating on their career options – the question now is, can their academic certificate land them their dream jobs?
According to the research conducted by the ‘World Bank on Kenya Promotion Council’; suggests that Kenya graduates are missing out on good jobs opportunities because university teaching does not place enough emphasis on practical skills. One report says insurance companies spend a lot of money bringing graduates up to scratch because they lack the relevant skills.
According to Aristotle, ‘Education is the best provision for old age.’ In the words of Claiborne Pell, ‘The strength of the United State is not the Gold at Fort Knox or Weapons of Mass Destruction that we have, but the sum total of the Education and the Character of our People’. There is no doubt that higher education increases one’s job opportunities. In Nigeria; The National Assembly passed a law making it mandatory for all public holders to have a degree. But despite the degree and occupying any public office in Nigeria, such a degree those not guarantee a fresh graduate job opportunity without the right connection or the ability to show how to qualify such fresh graduate is able to defend his or her degree when question.
Africa is a continent that is highly blessed with a different natural resource that can caretaker for Africa and the whole world. The mentality of the leaders also contributes to what has been affecting the fresh graduate in Africa base on different kind of bills they passed into law, to always think that immediately after graduation the next thing is the white-collar job.
A realistic advice that should be giving to ‘Fresh Graduate’ on graduation day is, ‘Your worst days are ahead of you and the journey is rarely a straight line, not to frighten or discourage, but to reassure that life can be a challenge and it’s okay to feel lost. Rather than giving them arousing speeches to inspire with platitudes. Such like:
‘Go change the world for the world belong to you’
‘Reach for the stars’
‘Go forth a make a difference’
‘Life is a bowl of cherries’
Indeed, it’s an amazing thing to make them hopeful but the truth be told, it goes beyond the teaching in your lecture theaters and degree as a ‘Fresh Graduate’.
Like I early mention; every fresh graduate heaves a sigh of relief the moment they write the last paper of their final exams, in any part of Africa or the world they may be. They tend to think the worst has come to an end, filled with enthusiasm what the future owns them, forgetting that some of them have little or no knowledge about the labour market and the potential careers plans. Fortunately, life does not start and end within the four corners of the classroom. It necessary that ‘Fresh Graduate’ properly be prepared mentally before jumping into the labour world, by so doing they are prepared for every possibility.
As a ‘Fresh Graduate’ here is some few tips you should always keep in mind.
- Be calm it’s not a race
- Seek for experience before pay
- Your certificate is not an assurance for job
- Make use of your social media to create an opportunity for yourself
- Don’t stop reading because you’re now a graduate
- Choose humility, not arrogance
BE CALM IT’S NOT A RACE
As a fresh graduate, they are so many dreams ahead of you to achieve, your main vision and goal seem so feasible, and because you have so much positive mind and energy in your possession with the strong urge to achieve them all immediately. You start comparing yourself with those your friends that are ahead of you, they have landed a great job, they are doing great and are better than me, his riding the latest car, she’s married and doing her masters while you are still at home watching supersport or Telemundo. It’s fairly common among ‘Fresh Graduate’ to justify your worth immediately after graduation, but what you need to keep in mind is that life is not a race. Give yourself a benefit of time; your path does not necessarily go in the same way as others. Take your time to discover yourself and forge your own path. And always remember, the race is not for the swift.
SEEK FOR EXPERIENCE BEFORE PAY
The money they say is the root of all evil; you just graduated, don’t be too fixated on how much you earn but it’s every graduate dreams to earn good pay cheque as a result of the present economic hardship in Africa. But be mindful that you are just starting out to be smart, take the first few years to gain the best possible experience to equip yourself for best opportunities to make all the money you need in the future. ‘An idle mind is the devils’ workshop’ they say. Contrary to that adage; I will say ‘An idle mind is a dedicated workshop’. Do not stay idle waiting for that huge pay job, it may never come, as a ‘Fresh Graduate’ experience matters a lot in Africa. Take the internships, the unpaid jobs and use the opportunity to build a network of contacts. Spend your day and night gaining valuable working experience and marketable skills. The experience and skills acquired will eventually separate you from all other graduates who graduated with you and set you miles away.
YOUR CERTIFICATE IS NOT AN ASSURANCE FOR JOB
Accepted, the rigorous studies you went through at tertiary institutions have made you worked your heart out during your studies every night and day studies you took. You had excellent grades and graduated Magna Cum Laude. However, these amazing achievements in school, no matter how laudable it seems, does not guarantee you a six-figure job, with full benefits and a well-structured office. Erase that thought which says am a graduate of first-class upper and now, I have arrived to take the world by storm. You need to realize that your mental ability and hands-on skills are what sets you apart in the real world. So forget that you’re laudable ‘Distinction’ in National Diploma, Higher National Diploma, Degrees, and Masters Etc. Take a personal decision and responsibility to equip yourself with the courage to shape your future with your own hands.
MAKE USE OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA TO CRATE OPPORTUNITY FOR YOURSELF
The world is at the fast pace of information through the usage of social media. Social media is huge and almost everyone has an account on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Wechat, Skype, Snapchat, and Periscope. The great opportunity that social media has provided is not an avenue to post immature comments and foul language. You cannot regulate the number of people who visit and view your wall. One of the people who visit your wall may be an employer of labour or where you might have applied for the job and chooses to asses you through your social media platform in order to conclude their final perception about you. To create a social media profile that reflects your ambitions, and provides a link to your resume for potential recruiters.
DON’T STOP READING BECAUSE YOU ARE NOW A GRADUATE
The rigorous activities in a tertiary institution and joyous mood of being a ‘Fresh Graduate’ are so ceaseless that some graduate tends to dump anything called ‘Book’ and ‘Reading’. Being a graduate does not define what you have known all in the four corners of your classroom, it goes beyond that classroom straight to the real world. If as a graduate you don’t imbibe the skills of continuous reading and research it will definitely hurt you when you are asked to do something totally alien to you and by so doing miss a great job or life-changing opportunity, because you believe that reading ends after graduation. Employers of labour want to know if what you have upstairs goes beyond your certificate and grade you attained in school. They are more concerned about what you have to offer your employer than what they have to offer you. Why not pick those motivational, innovational and inspirational books about successful men and women who have to change the synch of our world.
CHOOSE HUMILITY AND NOT ARROGANCE
Humility or Arrogance sometimes has its role to play in the mind of a postgraduate. Am a graduate now so there are certain friends I will hang out with who are educated like me, there are certain jobs I can’t do anymore. That is to the arrogant ones while the humble graduate tends to seek for a defining part. I think I need to go back and finish up my apprentice training now that am through with my first degree; I need to take up that volunteering or internship job even thou the pay is not encouraging at least experience matters a lot in Africa as a fresh graduate. Some fresh graduate in Africa tends to design the kind of lifestyle they want without working towards it in the right manners. By believing that; that roadside mechanic that have spent ten years as a mechanic is a quake because they are not educated like them. Instead of working alongside with the mechanic to acquired practical skills to complement the theoretical knowledge acquired in school. Discrimination among ‘Fresh Graduate’ in Africa and those who are not graduate but are equipped with basic practical terms need to stop. In the western part of the world, being a graduate those not make you superior over nongraduate, everyone respects each other because that is how is being done in a civilized society.
On a final note, the ‘Mentality of a Fresh Graduate’ in Africa needs to grow beyond already made white collar jobs. Africa is blessed with vast natural resource and is known for is farming and fishery (agricultural) cultural heritage and should not allow it to go down the drain. That is; every ‘Fresh Graduate’ in Africa need to see this as an avenue of a great opportunity to harness the entrepreneur inborn energy in them with the little resource in their domain. Despite the fact that African’s leaders are not helping matters.