Last summer, right out of university, I was thrown into what most people call ‘the real world’. I was now a 21 year old graduate that had to know what the next step was.
To be honest, I was very vague about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I had interests in advertising, marketing and most recently publishing but I still wasn’t sure. So when the time came to apply for jobs, I scoured the internet looking for publishing and advertising houses and PR companies for internships. I remember spending so much time attaching CVs and cover letters, writing personal essays and filling in never ending forms. The first thing I would do in the mornings was check my emails to see if I had been invited for any interviews.
The whole process threw me. Was this how it was really going to be? I’d read the newspaper sometimes and there were endless articles about high unemployment amongst recent graduates. A girl that had graduated from one of the high ranking universities was still unemployed 2 years after her graduation. I began to think if this was going to be me. Would I ever get a job?!
Putting aside my own personal stresses, there was family and friends constantly asking ‘so whats the next step?’. The congratulations on my graduation also came with questions about what I wanted to do now and if I had a job. The pressure was unbearable.
When my mother and I realised that I really wasn’t getting any call backs, we both sat down and reviewed my CV and Cover Letter. One thing she emphasised over and over again was that I needed to show what was going to make me different. What separated me from all the other 21 year old, female, black graduates out there? I had to highlight all my strengths, the ones that set me aside from others because that was the first thing they would read about me. I had to catch their eye.
A couple of weeks later, I got called in for an interview. I got the internship. I also had the opportunity to intern in two other companies following this. When my last internship was coming to an end, I really started to understand what employers were looking for. They want hardworking, motivated, smart and most importantly UNIQUE individuals. My strengths started to emerge and I began to see what I think is special and also what I needed to make me even more different.
Fast forward to the present day. I am now studying a Masters in Material and Visual Culture. That was a mouthful right? When I say it to most people the first reaction is either ‘huh?’ or a smock look accompanied with a fake smile like ‘okay I’ll just pretend I know what you’re saying but you might as well be studying typewriting’. I study why people do things, why they see the things they see the way they see them. I felt that this course would further my understandings in my interest of people and behaviour patterns.
I wouldn’t want to go on and reveal all my future plans and dreams! But I have found my niche and I try everyday to focus on my strengths so they can benefit me. Nobody can do everything and no one is perfect at anything. In a time where we can see so much change happening in our country, we should find our strengths, perfect them as best as we can and use them to better our country. Together we can make a change and I truly believe that.
In Nigeria today, new opportunities are arising for more and more young people. We are getting a chance to capitalise on our talents. Our horizons have broadened and we are being given the chance to work in industries that are flourishing and receiving world wide recognition. We are beginning to discover our niches. Surely, there is still a high demand for doctors, lawyers and so on, these are the people that will help give our country a firm foundation. However, these new opportunities that have risen also give more people a chance to become part of the bigger change. The change starts with us and we should do what we can to re-build the reputation of our country.
I know I’m not anywhere near qualified to give career advice, but I do know from personal experience that you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do right now but one does have to be pro active in searching for it. Also if you do know what you want to do, GO FOR IT! Always find ways to make your talent or skill better, you can never stop learning. Stay motivated and focused, there are going to be so many obstacles that we have to overcome to get to where we want to be. Let’s not let these obstacles block out the light at the end of the tunnel because there is one as long as we work towards it.
Most importantly, never forget who you are and what makes you special. It will be that unique skill or talent, that X factor that will keep you on the track towards achieving your goals and dreams.
Temidayo Abudu is currently studying masters at UCL, with plans on embarking on a career in media and publishing after graduation.
30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians to share their stories and experiences with other young Nigerians, within our borders and beyond, to inspire and motivate them.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.