In a typical Kenyan family, children are told to study hard in school, get the best grades, pursue prestigious courses like law, engineering and medicine. Then, and only then are they guaranteed of success in life.
During your graduation, your entire family troops into the ceremony. Once the celebrations are done and dusted, reality rears its ugly head. The entire talk about education being the key to success turns out to be a big hoax. You realize that the world doesn’t care how great your grades are. Titles accrued from your fancy papers mean nothing to anyone anymore. You have to fight for limited opportunities with thousands of other graduates with similar qualifications or better qualifications.
Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, +and months turn into years. You send out hundreds of job applications. The organizations don’t have the decency to acknowledge receipt of your application or send a regret email to inform you of their reasons not to hire you. You begin to wonder why you wasted years and resources to get that over-glorified piece of paper when your age mates who never even seen the gates of a college seem to be doing well in life.
You are not alone. Hundreds or even thousands of other graduates are going through exactly what you are experiencing, it is just that they are putting on a brave face. However, here are some rules every graduate should live by.
Strive to build a personal brand.
Think of yourself as an item on a supermarket shelf full of other competing products. What would make a potential customer pick you and leave the other products to collect dust on the shelves?
The answer lies in how you brand yourself.
Professionals in technical fields detest marketing themselves. They believe their work should speak volumes for them. That is an ancient way of looking at things. There are thousands of other people who can do what you do. The best way for you to beat them is to aggressively market yourself while still offering excellent and exemplary services.
Thanks to internet penetration in this country it is much easier to create a personal brand. You have total control of the way you want the world to perceive you as a professional and endeavour to showcase that on all your social media platforms.
For example, creating a Facebook page running a blog where you regularly publish about issues in your area of expertise like http://www.talwork.net. This can help to catapult you into a next level and become a professional who is well known.
Learn to embrace uncertainty
Most Kenyan graduates find it an uphill task to handle uncertainty. In academics, all you need to do is study hard, revise the past papers and follow laid down instructions. When you follow all these, excelling is almost guaranteed.
Life, on the other hand, is different. You can do your best, work twice harder than you did yesterday or sacrifice everything but still fail because you neglected some other many factors that come into play. This fear of the unknown and failures are what drive most graduates to choose formal employment over entrepreneurship.
However, it is important that you find an excellent balance in the uncertainty, embrace rejection and failing as part of your journey to greatness.
Diversify. Pursue at least two different fields.
Being an expert in one field is no longer a wise move. Imagine spending your entire lifetime building a single career path then one day you are declared redundant thanks to some new technology has come up in the market.
Social media has replaced broadcast media as a major source of news, cut into their profits, forcing major media houses to undertake massive layoffs. We cannot also forget to pinpoint how mobile banking is revolutionized the financial sector.
Therefore, combining at least two different career fields allows you to reap the benefits of being multidisciplinary and offers a lifeline should one career path go down the drain.
There is no job that is beneath you.
Quite a number of graduates turn down jobs they feel are "beneath someone of their calibre." Others carry this mentality into the workplace, publicly ridiculing older colleagues especially those with less academic qualifications than them. This sad state of affairs has hindered many of the graduates from progressing in their respective careers.
A degree of any kind only proves you have the capacity to think critically and learn. Therefore stop acting like you are the smartest person in the room.
Do away with the misplaced ego. Seek to learn from those who have been doing it longer by tapping into their wealth of knowledge and experience. This will enable you to become a better professional and prove to them that you are ready to be entrusted with bigger roles in the organization.
In addition, go for internships and volunteer in as many organizations as you can. Use that opportunity to network, make valuable professional contacts and learn everything about your career.
The time to start is always now.
If I plucked a strand of my hair each time someone told me they are waiting for the perfect moment to embark on actualizing their business idea, talent or life goal, I would be completely bald in a year.
If you have a business idea, hope to further your education or have an unexploited talent the best time to start pursuing it is NOW. Waiting for the stars to align perfectly may never come to pass. To make it worse, responsibilities compound on us with each passing day. If not careful you will soon be part of those who spend their days wallowing in regret.
You have to develop a financial discipline.
Financial discipline is one thing that proves to elude most of us regardless of education levels, age, profession, gender or intellectual capabilities. Making money is the easier part. However, keeping the wealth you generate requires a higher degree of financial discipline otherwise you could end up falling from grace to abject poverty. The society is hell-bent on moulding us into important members of the society, professionals but ignores the most important life lesson, which is on how to handle money. You have to learn how to best save, invest and spend your money.
Enjoy all life seasons.
Life has its seasons. Appreciate each season and pick lessons from each. The most important lesson from this fact of life is that nothing is permanent so don’t stress over it or mistreat people thinking you will never need their help. Through it, all find a way to stay happy, hopeful and enthusiastic.