3 MUSTS for the jobless Kenyan
23 March 2015, 14:00
Nairobi - I have used the term young adults because this piece refers to recent graduates or rather people within the 20s age bracket who can actually do something with themselves rather than wait. It might apply to some adults but I feel that if you are in your forties and are yet to know what you are about then you are a lost cause, but there’s always a here and now that you can start with.
I remember when I finished high school and I had to choose a course I would do the only answer that I came up with for my parents was business. My passion is in the arts; fashion/ design and communication but I knew that there was no way my parents were going to pay for me to do that. They are the old school type, if it is not medicine or engineering then the other logical career was just in business. The former two were out of the equation because I avoid math and sciences like a virus. I chose business because you can never go wrong there it is applicable in any field. So I went to Strathmore and my parents agreed to pay that fee because she was told if you come out of there you are like a golden egg and employers are jumping out of their pants to have you. False!
Sometimes I think whether, if I had suggested to go to Daystar for communication she would have agreed because the fee range is almost the same. No she would not have because my mother is also a disciplinarian. More than anything what attracted her to Strathmore was when a former tutor told her it is like a high school, thus ‘tunachungwa sana’. Anything that was bound to put me in class from 8-5 and guarantee that I was there worked for her. Icing was when she heard about their dressing code, I could see the jubilation in her eyes as they glossed over with unshed tears.
On graduating with my degree, even before we graduated we had already started to look for jobs. That thing about connections, is true, in our industry if you do not know anyone, you are going nowhere. If you do that is your luck. Every year, more than half a million people graduate from various institutions here in Kenya, all of you are unleashed to go out there and do something. At that time your main goal is to get that perfect job. Three quarters of you are stuck out of a job for even more than three years. You soon realize that you are not the only one that graduated, yet you are here waiting for that while collar job that will pay you a salary of more than KES 100,000, plus allowances and benefits.
With each interview that you do not get called for, let me even say, with each lack of response that you get, your standards and expectations reduce. As a year goes, you now become desperate and are willing to take anything because another batch of graduates is coming in. What is different about you that will make an employer overlook them and pick you?
I had to lose my employee mentality
No company had yet to pick me, because they wanted someone with ‘experience’. What you do in between school is not important to them because you were an intern so that does not count even if you were paid. I do not know which tree this experience is grown so that I can go and pick it. After a year I started to understand why people lie on their resume.
The jobs were not coming to me so I had to redraft. Do not wait for people to give you something, in our society that is you wasting your prime years. Even if it does not pay, do it. You may be absorbed and if they do not you have gained something other than nothing while sitting at home. A lot of people overlook the fact that they are a brand in themselves that they are advertising to the would-be employers. It can be an art, photography, writing, personal blogging on your interests-do that. Your page views are your clients and you sell them to the bigger fish that you want. Sitting and bemoaning your lack of connections will not get you anywhere.
I had to be proactive
You have to learn to be proactive in picking in-between jobs and work experience. They can elevate you. Before taking up my writing job, the only things I had ever written were badly phrased compositions and inshas. The opportunity came and I had to make it work because I like money. Maybe you do not have a talent but at least do something that can show you are a progressive individual who can adapt and do anything. Volunteer in an organization, even if you deem it beyond your notice. Waiting for the UN to pick you is harassing yourself, because they are on their own level; does not matter if you are offering them a service for free. The small organization in your rural area may be a blessing in disguise.
Selling yourself on social media
I hate social media, in fact if I had a way of completely avoiding it I would be the happiest person on earth. I curse the person who came up with LinkedIn because employers these days look at that too. You have to update your profile, make sure it has the right people on it. The right information on your experience and skills; basically, it is another tool of selling your brand that you cannot ignore.
If you had bad Facebook and Twitter accounts then they better have a false name on it because employers are now looking at that too. If you are in Mass Communication then YouTube is most definitely your friend. Get yourself a YouTube Channel and get a following that is how you get the bigwigs to notice you.
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