January 25, 2019 Lone Felix

Hello Young Graduate! Part 1

I have engaged colleagues from about 2012, so you would say seven years. First, when I was Secretary General at Equity Africa, then thereafter as President of Students’ Council in KU and all along after exiting from school.

I have met an extremely ambitious lady, seeking a job while they are in third year, and they get one. But I have also met and continue to hear from someone who graduated four years ago, but they have never got a job. I meet people, who get a one year contract in a start-up, and the security of the salary is not guaranteed, and the contract gets cancelled when you desperately need it.

You see, as this happens to you, you will look and see your peers or classmates, and a few of them seem to be doing so well. They seem to have a job all intact. They get a small loan here and there and buy a small car. And deep down your heart, you start asking yourself if you are a failure. These things can easily get to you, they can easily define you. They can easily take away all the strength you ever had.

So hear me out!

A year or two without a job after graduation does not mean you are a failure. We are in an economy where 70% of Start-ups face attrition and die off. Over 83% of the Jobs our economy creates are in the informal sector. Our Public Service reeks of patronage. Sometimes believe you me, the fact that opportunity has not opened its window to you has nothing to do with you.
You see my friends, I know my peers in Student leadership, who left as Presidents, and started working as casuals. With all the networks and today, its their testimony. Don’t disparage small beginnings. Don’t see nonexistent curses in your struggle. Keep being at it.

Here are a few things you should try.

VOLUNTEER- Start this when you are in Campus. When you head home for a months holiday, volunteer to teach at your former Primary or Secondary School. Look out for an NGO, or a conference that is happening and ask to volunteer. You trained as an economist, and a year down the line there is no Job, try looking to do community training in a slum. My first Job was in 2009, as a high-school teacher in Khayo Secondary. I taught five Subjects. I was paid Ksh. 1000 bob per month. I can’t tell you the magic in this thing. Just try it.

NEVER PASS A DAY WITHOUT ADDING KNOWLEDGE: Continuously learn even as you look for work. Forget the learning that needs you to use extra cash, no I mean just use your phone if you must. Know all the new trends in your industry. Know the leading players and what they are doing. You see, as a young graduate, you may have to prove yourself five times harder than those who are older. There are so many chances of earning an extra certificate from Harvard or Australian universities over one month with Ksh. 5k. And I know that cash may not be there, but my friend seek knowledge unending.

SEEK WORK: First, polish your CV, stop using that generic high school template that lists three primary schools you attended. Every work is looking for a specific skill. You surely cannot use the same resume for five job applications. I have sat at decisions in shortlisting people, employers do not like idle people. Never send out a CV that shows you’re currently doing nothing. If you have a chance, walk into people’s offices in person. Sometimes, your voice speaks better than your hand. Ensure you do have an updated LinkedIn, and list everything you participate in. Effort is a turn on. And hey my friends, don’t spit venom on your social media. It is true, they are reviewed. You see, some of you believe that by using pseudonyms, you can fake an online identity. But each social media account is tied to a phone number or an email, which sadly maybe the same one on your CV.

Don’t worry, get as many rejections as possible, I assure you, a window does open at some point. And if you forget everything, please remember, that an employer chose someone else over you, does not mean you are less worth. Take it as a call, to add one more skill.

Happy Friday!

LF