Thursday, December 27, 2012

Between Job Seekers and Loan Seekers

I was a quiet spectator of an open debate between two young men at the Pan-African University’s cafeteria one Wednesday afternoon during lunch break at the School of Media and Communication and I found out that in setting career targets, there are two major categories to which Nigerian youths can be classified.

The details of their debates I find hard to fully recollect, as they do not really matter to us right now as much as the image of the characters involved and the impression I got of each of them.
I saw two different people that disagreed on almost everything, two people that could not understand why the other believed what he believed, two people irritated by each other. They remained polite as they tried to outdo each other and win the argument but I really felt the argument should have been over a long time before it did because I was able to quickly see that there was no way either of these guys would admit anything. Though they were both young graduates with some confidence about their future plans, they were two different people with totally different approaches to life.

One was a young graduate who had been seeking a job and spent the past years of his life studying  job interviews questions, writing and rewriting his CV at the discovery of every new style with which CVs are written anywhere in the world, someone who had prepared himself for the challenge of convincing any CEO or Human Resource manager how productive he can be if employed, he had mastered all the theories of how to get a dream job. The other was also a young graduate but one who had spent the past years of his life studying the problem solving concepts for successful business, someone who writes and rewrites proposals and business ideas fantasizing about “that big break”, someone ready to prove what he can do here and now, he had mastered all the principles hidden in the autobiographies of the world’s most successful men.

The first guy knows how to sit, talk, smile and even how not to smile during an executive management meeting though never had the opportunity to be part of one, and the other guy knows how to get senior management executives off their seats with his personality. Our first guy comes across as the collector of vacancy announcing newspapers, magazines and websites while the other one seemed to be more of a collector of self help books and publications.

Neither of them is yet to live the dream, the first guy is yet to land that dream job and the second is yet to hit the big break we all dream about. My question to you; who has the better chances between them? Well, if it were in the developed countries my answer would have been delivered with so much enthusiasm but in a Nigeria where some people value certification more than knowledge, I am sadly made to suppress my confidence.

A country that places the University degree above the Polytechnic HND even if the HND holder has more practical competence, the country where the NYSC certificate is the major prerequisite for landing a job and it doesn’t matter if that young man that studied through a part time degree is smarter with more to offer. The same place where a potential mother-in-law would prefer to be told you work in an oil company or even some state ministry of Transport than to be told you run your own business, especially when there are no signs that the business is already paying bills. Even the lady you want to marry prefers your shirt and tie with the guaranteed monthly pay that fills her table right now rather than standing by you bearing a little sacrifice while you achieve your dreams. A country where telling your parents you plan to resign from a job and focus on personal business is like suicide to them, why? To the old folks, an ideal guaranteed future is working 35 years, retiring someday and collecting pension till you die!

At the end of the day we have a society that insists on building in us youths the “give them what they want and get the job”, “do what is expected and be accepted” or “just pay my bills” mentality without any consideration for independent creativity, productivity and vision for entrepreneurship. Yes, I strongly agree that some things must change in many African countries for us to be able to handle the entrepreneurial challenges we face every day as young people, from access to funds, patent and copyright issues, power, nepotism…etc, but we cannot wait for these before we find our joy in life. I found out that if one has a real dream and cannot identify challenges against his dream, he is probably just day-dreaming.

Trust me guys, I know about that post graduation feeling of uncertainty, anxiety, and in some cases anti-climax. I also asked those questions - what’s next? And mine was just few years ago! And if I am happy to share thoughts about these issues then it’s not as difficult as it seems. I expect you to either leave here as a millionaire or as a millionaire waiting to happen. I am the latter.
All said, either as a job seeker or loan seeker, I am still sure continuous self development is never a bad way to build and prepare yourself for a dream future especially through professional education, skill acquisition, research and very importantly, positive mentoring. This was the only way I think the two young men agreed, though they both failed to acknowledge this in the course of their argument, perhaps they did not realize that being participants of the same program meant they still had something in common. But then like I said earlier, “there was no way either of these guys would admit anything” to each other and it would make no sense trying to make them do so. Whose opinion I share is obvious now but it makes more sense to simply say good luck my friends!