“It’s the end of the Kenyan year again! What a year 2018 has been! Yaay! The Holidays are here too!”
There is joy in the air with weddings, graduations, Christmas get-togethers, New Year’s Day and whatever on our calendars. It will all be fun and games until we hit fifth of January 2019. The dust will settle and whilst all are affected, the 2018 graduates will be worst hit. Ask me how and I will reply promptly for I have been there not a long while ago. Let me build my argument on facts lest you accuse me of bluffing. Hang on.
Kenya has a total of 67 universities as at November 2018. These universities release approximately 140,000 undergraduates into the job market annually. This numbers may double or even triple when we add diploma, certificates and graduate school cohorts. A World Bank report highlights that a million Kenyans are injected into the job market annually. Apart from the fresh graduates, there are the previous years’ graduates, your uncle who was laid off in August, and your auntie who stopped importing ladies’ handbags from Dubai and who is looking for a stable job. You know the game, right? Uchumi ni mbaya biashara zinafunga. This number competes for about sixty thousand formal employment positions that arise per year. What does that mean? A whopping 94% of these people will remain jobless or employed informally for a long time. To add salt to the wound, there is no hope that the government is employing anytime soon.
This piece is for the 2018 graduates because I love you so much. You’ve come a long way. Surviving campus during the Jubilee government sio mchezo. You never gave up. You make me believe that not all superheroes wear suits. Also this is for your parents. Hongera wazazi, mumetenda vyema. So as we slaughter goats and chicken and pop champagne this season, let us remember that 2019 is knocking and life has to go on.
Below are insights on life after campus.
- Independence and Good Life are buzz words, well for the first few months.
College students have a false illusion that they will be the most sought after individuals after college. They think that their ideas are what the field of their schooling has been lacking. Let me be the one to burst your bubble. You are not Einstein and even if you are, you are not ready yet. You are schooled and smart but yet to go through the school of life. Abort the celebrity lifestyle thoughts. Drop the idea that you will never call your mother, father or siblings for help. You might even put up with your relatives in town as you try to search your ground. Yes, you may be financially independent. I know you’ve been hustling. Those writing projects, selling stuff and other small businesses but life always smacks us in the face. You need a strong support system from friends and families for advice and guidance.
- Those who promised you jobs become elusive.
This is not to disrespect to our relatives, family friends and politicians who tell us over our graduation party,” Wewe usijali. Sahi jibambe na utengeneze CV. January ikiingia we nitafute najua mtu.”
Do not place your hopes on anybody else but yourself. Our relatives may not mean to disappoint us. They may try all their best but the plain truth is kazi haziko. With the current economy companies are resizing downwards and having a decreasing number of openings annually.
- They never taught networking at the university.
This week I changed my Whatsapp status to Aristotle’s ‘For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.’ This is the discipline of Experiential Learning. It is regrettable that the free time we have in campus, we spend it doing less important stuff. I remember staying indoors for weeks enjoying The Game of Thrones. You remember the twelve seasons of Grey’s Anatomy we watched within a couple of months. Yes, those endless afternoons of FIFA. In college, most student’s suffer from inferiority complex and procrastination. They think that their ideas are not good enough for the real world. Or the phrase ‘I will start tomorrow.’ However, there are those students who by their second year were attending high level conferences and out of personal initiatives, they knew several company directors in their field. Look at them now. They may not be far but they have been moving steadily. They weren’t born bold but bit by bit they grew their confidence. After campus, you have to learn the drill and perfect it. Even if you land yourself a lucrative first job, networking is a skill that will make you meaningful to the company and lay base for future growth. Consider it an investment you make for a better tomorrow.
- Most of the time you will be on your own.
I remember believing that after campus my friends and I would stick together. We often took selfies and branded ourselves BFFs. Right now, it has been a year since I graduated and I have not set eye on most. At least technology helps us to keep in touch but besides the occasional chats and status views, I can attest that those relationships are temporary. I am not against them. They helped us survive college and shaped our world view. They were vital for that time. In the real world, you will plan and execute most of the plans alone. So when you discover you are alone, do not be surprised. Learn to also thrive in solitude. This is life and soon you will have new mates.
- People are just people. They are not pleasant.
If you gauge your support system by the people who turn up at your graduation after-party, then you are missing a point. I do not deny that most people who attend our event mean well, but they also have humanly problems that hinder them from looking out for us. Do not judge them when they do not recognize you in the streets. Do not be angry when they do not invite you to work as a paralegal in their firm. They may be planning on a retrenchment or their company is not doing well. Remember your landlord does not care that you are newly graduated, unemployed or not on any allowance.
- Your degree is meaningless until…
Gone are the days when all you had to do to get a job was to get that second upper degree. We now have thousands of first-class degree holders who are jobless and grieving in abject poverty. The plain truth is that our universities are preparing us for a world that does not exist. We have good courses that however do not work in our setting. It is a pity a first class degree holder in Actuarial Science will actually serve as a bank teller for a huge chunk of his career. I do not mean to disrespect bank tellers, but that is what we have to persevere as a developing nation. What I am saying is that you have to go out there and create opportunities instead of waiting for employment. Fortune favours the bold. You can only enjoy the fruits of your education if you fight for it and let it stand out. Dissociate yourself from the thoughts that I cannot do this because I studied this. The first job you land is important. If feeds your ego and teaches you important lessons. Take it as a career bar exam.
My next article on this topic of How to Survive Life after Campus, we will look at 10 Tips of Winning the Year after Campus.