“There are no jobs out there! It’s as simple as that” Only God knows how many times I have heard people make that remark. As a matter of fact, it’s gradually becoming a normal opening remark for encouraging undergraduates to venture into other things rather than searching for a white collar job.
As much as I support the idea of being an entrepreneur, starting your own business and being your own boss, I see no reason why an individual would invest over a decade of his life in being educated and not get to use the certificate for some years before venturing into other things, if need be.
In all sincerity, the ratio of available jobs compared to qualified applicants is very low, which means, to be gainfully employed in this part of the world, you must not just stand out, you must also know how to play your card rightly.
This post will explore the basic grounds that must be covered from your undergraduate days, during and after NYSC (National Youth Service Corp) program.
AS AN UNDERGRADUATE
In my conversation with some set of students in Nigerian universities, I discovered that most of them don’t actually have the end in mind before commencing their degree program. They just want to be identified as an undergraduate, leave their parent’s house and enjoy the freedom that come along with it.
As an undergraduate, it’s never too early to starting thinking about what the future holds for you, such thinking will not only gear you up in preparing for what the field has to offer, it will also connect you with like-minded people. Below are the basic things your preparation must cover as an undergraduate aspiring to get his/her dream job after graduation.
1. Make Good Grades: The importance of graduating with good grades cannot be overemphasized. In Nigeria, it’s very important that you graduate with a minimum of second class lower division. But the central idea of getting your dream job is to stand out, this means; you should go beyond the fold and not settle for the national average grade. While in school, do your best to make at least second class upper division.
There is a popular saying that “Your destiny does not revolve around your grade” the truth is this; your grade as undergraduate degree is a co-determinant of your future job. Don’t be fooled by ridiculous examples of how Bill Gate dropped out of school, how Mark Zuckerberg left school mid-way into his degree in Harvard. In this part of the world, it’s a different ball game!
Your good grade will at least get you invites for interviews.
2. Learn How To Interact: Being sociable is one of the main reasons for going to school. The ability to interact with strangers and acquaintance in like manner is of great importance. Before you graduate, make it a point of duty to build up your self confidence, learn how to approach people and initiate a conversation, learn how to get people to listen to you, learn how to address a large crowd.
It’s a skill you would eventually tap into for the rest of your life.
3. Research about Your Field: Most undergraduates in Nigeria don’t even know that the course they’re studying existed, until they were admitted to study it. Rejecting the admission offer is not an option because it’s very stressful to get admitted in Nigeria, as a result of this, they accepted the offer and do what needs to be done.
The problem is that, they remain uninformed about the field, which leads to series of problem after graduation, issues such as role conflict and inferiority complex sets in, mainly because they know little or nothing about the course they studied as an undergraduate.
It’s very important to conduct an extensive research about your field of study before accepting the admission offer, conduct research on what the future holds for the field.
For example, years ago, Law used to be a very lucrative field, but now it’s not as lucrative as it used to be. I know of lawyers that can barely fuel their cars. It’s as bad as that. Even if you graduate with an excellent grade and your choice of course holds not prospect, getting your dream job might be a little bit difficult.
The NYSC year is not entirely for fun as most people term it to be, it’s a year for meeting new people, exploring other people’s culture, gaining more knowledge and expanding your horizon. During your NYSC year, there are some things you can do which will greatly increase your chance of landing your dream job.
1. Make Good Friends: During the service year, you get to meet hundreds of people you’ve never met before. It’s a great opportunity of making new friends, creating lasting connection with people that matters. Try as much as possible to create a strong connection base for yourself, amidst fellow corp. members and in your place of primary assignment, make yourself known, engage in various activities.
When you’re done with your NYSC program, don’t burn bridges; keep your connection with friends active through various means. Often, good jobs are gotten based on referrals from existing connection.
2. Professional Certificates: During NYSC program, try as much as possible to get additional certificates to compliment your first degree. Most of the professional programs are offered at a relatively cheap price for corp. members. Look into programs that fit your career goals and get certified. Engineers and Biomedical science graduate can look into HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) program; Social science graduates can take professional exams in the management sector.
The idea is to conduct an extensive research into available programs that would give you an edge ahead of others.
3. Volunteer: In Nigeria, when it comes to job hunting, your level of experience also counts. Getting a job that requires some level of experience is synonymous to the chicken and egg issue. Fresh graduates would traditionally have no working experience in their field of study, making it difficult to secure the perfect job.
This is where the importance of volunteering comes in. In the end, your employers are looking out for your experience; they’re not interested in how much you were paid when gathering the experience. Search for corporations, groups and organization that are willing to take up volunteers or trainees during your NYSC program, get your foot into the right door, and before you know it, you’re already dining with the big boys.
The first six months after the NYSC passing out parade is probably the toughest period for fresh graduates, mainly because the unemployed ones will have no source of income, the regular feeding allowance from the government is over, stipends from parent is also over, and the little savings during the NYSC program would probably be spent on job hunting.The following are basic things that should be done during the waiting period after NYSC:
1. Tell your connections about your job search.
2. Make new connections.
3. Don’t wait while searching for the right job! Volunteer in related field, try as much as possible to be productive and add value to yourself
4. Be flexible
In conclusion, it’s never too late to start aligning yourself towards your dream job, even if you graduated with a poor grade, you can still add value to yourself by being certified in your field or enrolling for a graduate degree program.