Dear local graduate,
It has been a while since we last spoke, but I hope you are doing well. I hope that you are defying the odds despite your circumstances and the cards handed to you. The last time we were in touch, I remember discussing with you about post-college depression; I hope you are now more robust and better than before. This time I would like us to speak about several prejudices that people might have had about you. I know what matters is how you think of yourself, but I think some of these prejudices might have affected you in one way or another, and I want us to go through them and reassure you that you can carry yourself better than what is being said. In an event where some of these concepts are true, I believe we can figure out ways to better ourselves because I am one of you for one.
They say you struggle with the command of both oral and written communication, especially in English. For most of us, English is probably our second or third language, which is why we are indebted to keep trying to get better and better at it. Furthermore, with the way the world is increasingly being integrated, having a good mastery of English is no longer an advantage but more of a necessity. To stress this further, English is the official primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education in Tanzania (please correct me if I am wrong). Therefore, it is critical always to try to get better at the language. Common defaults in communication among graduates are seen in job applications when it comes to writing CVs, motivation letters, communicating via email, selling oneself in interviews, and approaching potential employers on sites such as LinkedIn. A common practice of those trying to get better at a language is reading different materials such as journals, articles, and books for at least 30mins daily. At the same time, others try to watch shows and educative audio-visual content. If you are applying anywhere, get a mentor or someone doing well to review the application and help you prep better. There are also tons of materials online; make good use of them, the results will be astonishing.
Others have raised that you are not well equipped with the soft skills required to excel in the job market. Some of those skills highlighted include complex problem solving, analytical thinking, emotional intelligence, and creativity, to mention a few. When this discussion arises, fingers are often pointed to the education system and curriculum; is it not the time to drift away from the “name and shame” practice and figure our ways out? I guess it’s high time. Several things can be done at a personal level to equip oneself with the soft skills required to succeed in the world beyond academia. Different youth platforms can help with these skills, for example, AIESEC, Rotaract Clubs, university associations, and many more. Within these platforms, you will find training and hands-on opportunities for you to develop soft skills. Outside these organizations, many other forums organize entrepreneurship and employability training for young people. While most of these opportunities aim at university students, you should not be discouraged to access them as a graduate. Furthermore, online resources also help in understanding what soft skills are required and how to sharpen them. Tapping into the wisdom and knowledge from online resources such as YALI Network online course can equip one with the package not usually delivered within our curriculum.
Furthermore, some say that you are very picky when it comes to job searching. I partly agree with you; I, too, am picky. However, I believe there are some things to consider before rejecting an offer or deciding not to go for an opportunity. Compensation is usually one of the biggest motivations. I would not usually advise anyone to accept less than what they believe they deserve, especially if the industry offers more to the staff of the same level. However, on occasions where non-monetary benefits outweigh your paycheck, I would advise going for that post. For example, if you believe the post has ample room for growth or offers a better work-life balance or unique company culture, I suggest you go for it as you are still searching.
There is a whole other lot of things I have reserved for the next time we catch up. Some of them include our attitude at work, unrealistic expectations of the job market, and underrating extracurriculars when in college. For now, please reflect on these few and let me know what you think about them. Please remember, do not dim your light; you are far better beyond the perfect imperfections pointed at. Until then, keep the fire burning, and through you, let them know that local graduates are equally capable and can contribute a whole lot when given a seat at the table.
Your fellow local graduate.
By Edgar Buberwa on 23 Oct 2020