At some point in campus/college, especially during your final months or semesters, you will need to start planning for life after school. It is a joy to finish and look forward to graduation, but there are also many moving parts involved that can rob you the joy of completing your studies. As you anticipate a life without assignments, CATs and Exams set by the devil himself, you also realize that it will be a life without HELB and possibly the close social gatherings you have enjoyed. By the way, HELB will still be there, but this time round like Santa Claus turned terrorist, asking you to repay your loan. Blessed is the one without HELB, for they will not be haunted! Sorry, I digressed.
What’s next after campus? I faced this question almost six years ago, and with so many uncertainties, I had to decide what to do next and how to shape my life at least in the short term. What makes this a significant decision in life is that a lot of things change, and your life will be altered significantly from how you have lived in the last 20 years. Some of the major changes to expect include:
- The increased cost of living, in terms of housing, food, travel, etc.
- Decreased support from the people you depended on.
- Increased expectations from people.
- Finding a job in a jobless economy.
- Transition to a different town/location, new community, and friends, or a new Church.
- Another 300 challenges which I have no space to mention
One of these challenges is finding a job, and I would want to talk about it in the hope that I will help someone make the right decision. While in school, we work hard in the hope that we will land on a good job and possibly occupy the corner office. Even those who do not venture into employment hope to be successful as entrepreneurs. How can we make this a reality?
The reality of the job environment today
Once upon a time, there was something called a job. You had the same one for your entire life, and then you retired and got something called a pension.
Things have changed
Today, your career is probably going to take a lot of twists and turns. You’ll work, change jobs, tarmac, get a side hustle and a main hustle, become an employer, an employee, consultant… etc. With the exception of a few people whose career path will look like the straight path shown below, most of them will have a twisted, convoluted and mixed up career path as shown
With this in mind, how can one ensure that their career kicks off well? Jobs need experience, and experience needs jobs. This cyclic loop can keep you jobless forever. Some people are also not sure which job they want to do, and others are keen on changing their careers altogether. The other problem comes when you send hundreds of CVs and receive neither response nor regret. Other times you attend so many interviews that you start doubting your purpose in life because some do not even bother to send a regret. With such challenges, here are three considerations that will help you get relevant experience to land on the job of your choice in the long run.
Internships are loved and hated at the same time, majorly because you can easily get yourself one, and also because most of them do not pay. However, internships are one of the best ways to gain some experience in a specific field.
Internships give real time experience and exposure and work best if you are targeting to intern in small organizations as opposed to big corporates. This is because, in small firms, you are likely to be given more duties and responsibilities, as opposed to big corporates. In our start-up, an intern will get more experience and exposure in three months as a system administrator than they can get if they worked in the big Kenyan companies for one year. This is because we give you as much work as we give a senior system administrator, and you will have the guidance of the senior admin seated next to you all the time.
For networks, you are likely to get an internship through referral, because many times these opportunities may not be advertised. If you know someone in an organization or business that is doing what you want to do, that will be an ideal place for you. Consider cold applications to any firm you know, and also look out for advertisements.
2. Job shadowing
Job shadowing refers to finding someone doing what you want to do, and then spending time with them in their actual working environment to see and learn from what they do. The objective is to see a mechanic, tailor or software engineer at work so that you can decide whether that is what you can gauge your interest and capacity in that field. You may consider spending one hour with them every day, or even a whole week.
Job shadowing works well with networks and can be very useful if you are not decided on a career. I know of a person loved art and painting, but after spending a day with a painter, he was convinced that it is one of the most boring things in life. That made him change their mind on becoming a paint artist. A day with a lecturer can help you know the joy and struggles of setting exams, marking, preparing for the next lesson and doing your Ph.D. studies at the same time.
3. Volunteer Work
You can opt to spend time doing volunteer work in an organization of your choice. This provided not only the experience that is so much needed in the society but also keeps you busy.
Whatever happens after campus, never stay idle. Find somewhere to make yourself useful, and whatever you do, do it with all your might, as unto God. Remember the example of David in the Bible, who did his work excellently, and that helped him pass his first interview. Which interview? When he went to Saul to tell him that he could actually eliminate Goliath, Saul almost asked him what on earth he had been smoking, to think that he could eliminate a seasoned fighter. David replied:
“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
1 Samuel 17:34-37 NIV
His faithfulness as a shepherd prepared him for his greatest battle. Be faithful as you work, look for jobs, do internships, and even tarmac.
Jacob Mugendi is a FOCUS Associate and the Team Leader in Truehost Cloud.