I hope you have read the previous article, the facts about life after campus, for it sets the base for this one.
In this piece, I will walk you through ten tips to ace your post-campus year. By saying acing, I do not imply being super successful with an up and running company, a job, a house, a car or in a serious relationship. Those are worldly standards. I mean being in a better state of mind by beating a way from rock bottom to a place above the water. I mean being able at times see the horizon when it isn’t very hazy. It gets hazy I can assure you. I will also share tips I have experienced and some that friends have shared with me; some which we did and others that we regret not doing. Only a fool waits to learn from his own experience while he could learn from the experience of others.
Winning the year after campus requires both technical and cognitive skills. Be prepared to be tested both physically and mentally.
- Feel good about the great achievement.
Making it out of the Kenyan school system is a sixteen year journey for most. For some it goes to twenty two. The luckiest get thirteen to fourteen years. It is not a minor achievement. It is a dream come true as mentioned in the last article. After graduation, take time to celebrate the achievement. Travel to somewhere exotic, party hard and involve people who held your hand. The body will appreciate the gush of the endorphins and other feel good hormones. This not only marks the transition, it energizes us and helps us focus on the peak ahead. I compare it to a mountain hike, it is good to enjoy the altitude before the menacing descent.
- Create an online presence and update existing social platforms.
Social media has undoubtedly taken a focal role in our lives. Potential employers will most likely skim your social media accounts to know you better. Remember the search engines are operating on artificial intelligence and before long your boss to be may come across your account named ‘Yobra Yule Ganja Head’ on Facebook. Create an online Linkedin Account and remember to update the skill section. Update your CV to something presentable. Use your time to sharpen your interview skills. Remember to tell people what your plans are and the type of job or opportunity you are seeking.
- Cut unnecessary costs.
I explained in my last post that you will probably find yourself on your own most of the time. Your parents shift their focus to another sibling or a project as soon as you get your degree. This means less coins to squander in your pockets. Take care of what you have. You may need some money to rush somewhere for a quick interview, to prepare and print personal documents or buy a tuxedo for the next networking dinner. You will be forced to move to a cheaper apartment, walk instead of taking a bus, reduce the number of party Fridays per month or the airtime you top-up your phone with. However, you are not drifting backwards. It is the normal life’s growth curve.
- Work on both your written and spoken communication skills.
Whether you will be formally employed or in self-employment, you can never run away from communication. Formal employment involves drafting proposals, reports, programs and official emails. It will also include meetings with management, equal colleagues and clients. Self-employment and entrepreneurship involves lots of proposal writing, customer care services and marketing. Your communication skills will set you apart from the competition. The good news is that you can develop stellar skills by practicing regularly. Speak audibly, breath in and out whenever you feel anxious, prepare well before a presentation and know your software. Work on becoming a great writer by reading books on writing and joining writing groups.
- Attend events and network like crazy.
You cannot waste quality time after graduation indoors. A lit candle is never covered. It is good to take a rest after school but it is dangerous to prolong it. A month is enough. After that you have to go out there and meet people. Attend events patronized by potential employers, and make a point of talking to them. It is here that you learn of openings, get office addresses and company cards. It is important that you be willing to help people and also share ideas. It not only earns you a likelihood of absorption, it also keeps what you learned in school fresh while also adding real life opinions. I will have to admit that I have personally experienced challenges talking to new people but the moment I say hi to the first person, the phobia clears out. The trick is to be at your best, smile a lot and become an active listener even if the other person sounds to be praising themselves or their workplaces.
- Convert that passion into an income generating idea even if it doesn’t generate any.
In college I had a computer nerd friend who loved his computer more than anything else. He was all about code and gaming applications. Two years down the line, he is a sought after programmer and android applications developer. His story is simple, transform your passion into a career. Some people were cut from another cloth called un-employability. Blessed people these are. As a fresh graduate, you find yourself with a lot of time. Use it to excel a passion or a hobby. I have read of how graduates transformed hobbies in gardening to attractive farming ventures. Do not waste your time. Before that email is replied, work on yourself. You may find out that you do not need that job after all.
- Begin as a volunteer or intern.
A degree does not guarantee employment friends. You should know that by now. All employers are looking for experience besides good-looking transcript papers. And experience is never gained with folded hands. Be ready to start as an unpaid volunteer or intern. Work hard and become enterprising and your employer will not advertise for a position should an opening arise. Working as an intern creates a virtue of value and wins you validation from the employer. The first job you get after completing school should serve as an extension of the education gained.
- Aim for small companies.
We cannot all fit in blue chip companies. I have a bias against seeking employment in a big company. There is a lot of pressure to perform in a big company and so much internal competition. One is also fixated in one department without learning what other departments do. The effect is felt when one leaves the organization and the experience you gained cannot compete in the ultra-dynamic world. In a small company, you are pushed around from procurement, to monitoring, to workshop facilitation and program development. You will most likely work outside your job description. Small companies are also aiming to grow and pioneer employees are likely to form top management in the future. The best bit is that your small contribution is felt widely.
- Work on identifying your purpose.
School has a way of throwing us about like ping pong balls. The first year after campus is good time to establish what your purpose in life is. There are numerous ways that can help you to identify your life’s purpose; listen to your inner self, find what turn you on, experiment several options and stick to the one that you relate to. The next step is to align your career ambitions, your goals and timelines with your purpose and every day will feel like a holiday. Our final article, finding your life’s purpose will help you identify your true purpose.
- Sharpen skills.
It will be a shame if they employed you then they realize they made a mistake. While some companies take some resources and time to train their employees, most will have expectations. You can use some time after campus to refresh on some skills. Students from public universities are often considered less competitive as employers think all they do is skive classes, plot demonstrations, engage in politics and go on long vacations. Adding a professional skill in accountancy would spice up the image of a student who studied Bachelor of Commerce.
Finally, these are just a few tricks you can use to crack the life code. You can test the ones you have picked somewhere else. Our next article is about finding your life’s purpose. I do not want you to be locked up in a job you do not love for the rest of your career life. I will be sharing some examples in each step to help you as narrow down to the intricate details of identifying yours. See you there.