by Ajayi, Abdulganiyy Abiodun
Congratulations, dear outgoing corps member. It is indeed a great honour to have served your fatherland. You obeyed the clarion call and worked meritoriously. Nigeria is proud of you. As you are about to pass out of NYSC scheme, family and friends will start rejoicing with you and tons of congratulatory messages will start popping in. But before you take the celebrations to Facebook and Instagram, let me also felicitate with you as you start another phase of life. With about 17 months of post-NYSC sojourn in the labour market, I feel the need to offer a little advice to guide you through your transition.
Dear Ajuwaya, the passing out parade is not just a rendezvous with government officials. It is actually a farewell ceremony. From now on, you are directly responsible for every penny you will earn. Your effort will determine how soon your allawee will be replaced with salary. By now, you must have understood that there is no free lunch anywhere; not even in Freetown. If the government could post you to a ‘strange land,’ keep you under stringent rules and subject you to laborious works before you could earn 19,800 naira, you should imagine what the labour market would have in its coffers. As a matter of fact, the labour market isn’t smiling at all but the good news is, some people are smiling there and some are even laughing.
Now that you are about to drop your khaki and take up corporate suits, one thing you must quickly learn is how to embrace realities. It is good to have high aspirations but this is the time to work with realities. If you have ever been aiming for a career in the oil industry, now is the time to go for it. However, you should be aware that those aspirations will not be achieved overnight. The recruitment process for many big corporations, for example, may take as long as a year. So, be prepared for a long and dynamic journey.
It doesn’t require a prophecy to know that a lot will remain jobless for quite a while. That is why you must understand that the corporate world is very competitive and your certificate alone may not offer you the edge. Those that have valuable skills and know how to sell them stand a high chance of weathering the storm of unemployment. Job search is such a serious business and you shouldn’t bring a toothpick to a tank fight. Therefore, concentrate on acquiring more skills as you seek your place in the labour world.
It is also necessary that you know how to manage expectations. Disappointments will come but do not despair. You may discover that your uncle in Abuja isn’t as influential as you’ve always believed. Your dad’s network of powerful friends may suddenly become feeble. My friend, if nothing tangible is coming forth from your immediate network, don’t be distressed. Everyone has a number of life issues to contend with. Big offers may be somewhere else waiting for you. So, dust your clothes and keep exploring.
Dear celebrant, you will have varieties of opportunities before you. However, you need to set your priorities right and know what you want out of life. You shouldn’t jump at every opportunity. A graduate internship is a lot better for a graduate engineer than teaching appointment in a secondary school. Also, you may decide to take up entrepreneurship and wear the toga of a self-acclaimed CEO, but if you are jobless because you aren’t employable, I am sorry, you will probably be a bad entrepreneur. The skills you need on a paid job are what entrepreneurship also requires. Your quests should be driven by passion and not frustration.
Let me also affirm that postgraduate studies is a good path to prepare you for academic jobs and can also lead you to greater exploits in your chosen industry. Nevertheless, joblessness shouldn’t be your impetus to pursue postgraduate education. You may be more frustrated thereafter. By and large, master’s degree is not a requirement for most entry-level jobs. Therefore, if a bachelor’s degree can’t get you a job, a master’s degree alone most likely won’t. Be confident to pursue what you want in life but be flexible enough to accommodate realities.
Your life journey so far must have taught you that we don’t live in a perfect world. Things may not go as you have planned but your ability to surmount difficulties will take you to your desired destination. For whatever reason, ensure you are not idle at any point in time. This is not the time to sit at home and wonder why the country is so bad. Get out, roll up your sleeves and get busy. You will be successful, but not on the platter of laziness. Keep adding value to yourself. Keep making trials and never lose hope in spite of failures. A minute’s success, they say, pays the failure of years.
As you step out of the National Youth Service Corps, lo and behold, Now Your Success Continues.
Welcome to the favour market.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Abdulganiyy is a graduate of computer engineering and works in Lagos.