Need a new job? Well in case you didn’t know, LinkedIn can be one of the best places to start. This is why we’ll be taking you through 5 major tips for how to find the job of your dreams on LinkedIn. Play your cards right and you’d be surprised when potential recruiters are the ones reaching out to you!
Update your profile
Think of LinkedIn as an online CV but with more. Don’t hold back, use this opportunity to detail the work you’ve done and the skills you have. Apart from a brief summary of your work experience, have a LinkedIn bio that’s interesting enough to read through with hobbies and a bit of what you’re passionate about.
Set up job alerts
You can set up job alerts on your career interests dashboard so that LinkedIn notifies you when a new job is open. With this feature, you can be one of the first to apply for jobs you’re interested in.
Build your connections
Be sure to connect and engage with things and people that interest you on LinkedIn. Following companies that you’re interested in and connecting with their employees and recruiters is always a good idea.
If you have a list of emails of people that you have connections with offline, all you need to do is upload a CSV file of those contacts and LinkedIn will automatically send connection requests to all of them. This can also help to give your LinkedIn profile a little boost.
When you’re looking for a job on LinkedIn, you’ll need to reach out to recruiters in your choice organisations. One way to make this easy is to have a message template that you can tweak
Here’s a good example:
“Hello Ms. Archer
My name is Lerato. My background is in software engineering. I’m exploring job possibilities and at this stage, am thinking that Maverick could be a fit for me because I can design systems exceptionally well. Can we meet for 15 minutes to discuss?
Recruiters are busy people so you want to make sure you give at least a week for a reply.
Let Recruiters Know You’re Open
Showing your profile to recruiters is another great way LinkedIn helps you find a job. To do this, enable the open to job opportunities feature on your LinkedIn profile. You can also choose to opt in to appear in recruiter searches that match your career interests.
LinkedIn tries to protect your privacy by not showing your preferences to recruiters in your current organisation but you need to know that it’s not a 100% guarantee that you will not be visible.
That’s it! You’re now on your way to applying for the job of your dreams!
Molped sanitary pad is a product from Hayat Kimya Limited (manufacturers of Molfix diapers), and is a skin-friendly, ultra-soft, sanitary pad, designed to make young girls feel as comfortable, soft, and secure as they feel beside their best friends.
Molped’s breathable layer keeps young women fresh, and it’s skin-friendly, cottony soft layer does not cause irritation. Molped sanitary pad is every girl’s best friend, helping them be more confident, and supporting them through their periods.
Molped has partnered with She Leads Africa to highlight the beauty and importance of valuable female connections.
About Odunayo Eweniyi
Odunayo Eweniyi is the co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of PiggyVest. She previously co-founded pushcv.com, one of the largest job sites in Africa with the largest database of pre-screened candidates. She has 5 years’ experience in Business Analysis and Operations and is a First-Class graduate of Computer Engineering, Covenant University, Nigeria.
She was named one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Technology in 2019 and one of 30 QuartzAfrica Innovators 2019. She sits on the advisory board of TrainFuture, an education technology company based in Switzerland, as well as the Gender Lens Acceleration Best Practices Initiative, a collaborative effort of Village Capital, US and the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (WeFi).
In 2019, she was named SME Entrepreneur of the Year West Africa by The Asian Banker’s Wealth and Society and she is the youngest Nigerian on Forbes Africa list of 20 New Wealth Creators in Africa 2019.
Odunayo was also one of the featured speakers at the World Bank-IMF Annual Meeting in 2019. She is one of Business Day’s Spark 2019 Women to Watch and made the World Women in Fintech Power List for 2017; the YNaija Most Influential People in Technology 2017 and 2018. She is a 2018 Westerwelle Young Entrepreneurs fellow; and she is a recipient of The FutureAfrica Awards Prize in Technology 2018.
In honour of her work, she was named one of 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria 2019 by Leading Ladies Africa, one of 50 most visible women in Tech by Tech Cabal in 2019. She is alsoincluded on the #YTech100 2019 list of the brightest Nigerian technocrats. She is the HerNetwork Technology Woman of The Year 2019. She was also voted The Most Influential YoungNigerian in Science and Technology 2019.
She works to support the inclusion of women in technology by working with hubs and female-focused networks like For Creative Girls, GreenHouse Labs, She Leads Africa, Itanna etc. She is also the cofounder of the women’s community, Wine and Whine Nigeria.
Well to me, friendship means mutual understanding and reciprocity. I like to think of all my friendships as safe spaces that are characterized by genuineness, shared values and free of ignorance and discrimination.
Can you tell us of a time when any of your girlfriends connected you with a career or business opportunity?
Yes actually, in a previous life I was a part-time tech journalist and my friend, Dami, connected me with a well-paying, writing gig at an international magazine. I even ended up working there for well over a year.
Is there a time when your friend(s) helped you through a difficult situation in your career?
I have a young career, so no difficult situations have stood out there, but my friends are constantly helping me out of sticky situations, and outside of work, they always come through for me.
How many women do you have in your power circle, and why did you choose them?
I have five women in my power circle and the thing is, I wouldn’t say I chose them, as much as they accepted me for who I am. As a person with Asperger’s syndrome, I am definitely an acquired taste.
So these five women, who are actually angels really, have moved through life with me with an understanding of who I am and I, them. But in addition to that, we share values, and despite having varied and many different goals, we work towards it together by supporting each other.
How do you think young women can network with other women to achieve career success?
To be honest, I think that would be much the same as they network with anyone else. There’s really no special way to relate with women. I think if you just treat people in general with empathy and respect, then you’re well on your way.
What is your fondest memory of you and your girlfriends, from when you first began your careers?
I actually started having girlfriends, or friends at all, after I started my career. So the memories we built, were built after we all started working and were at many different points in our lives.
Finally, what advice/tips do you have for young career women, to help them build and maintain valuable relationships with other women?
I think this is really general advice to maintain valuable relationships with everyone. It’s this simple, have empathy, have respect and always pay it forward.
To add a caveat though, I 100% believe that female friendships save lives, so I definitely encourage young women to have specifically female support systems. But just overall, move through the world treating people fairly, whether you want from them or you’re giving to them.
Entering the job market can be an exciting and daunting experience. It’s a different stage in one’s life.
You realize the same rules and orders you abide by during your school days are different after school. To become part of the workforce, you’ve got to be tactical and intentional, especially with your network.
Use these tips to position yourself for the job market and kick off your career.
Have A Professional Online Presence
In case you haven’t gotten the memo yet, adulting means social media is not just for fun anymore.
Prospective employers are constantly looking to find out about the best candidate for a job. That means yes, employers will Google search on you.
Share posts that highlight your skills and talents. The more people are aware of your capabilities, the better positioned you are. Employers need to know that you could be their best hire. Give them all the evidence to believe so.
Build Work Experience
It’s the age-old dilemma – how can you enter the workforce for the first time and be expected to have some experience already?
Before you can get your first official job, your resume does not have to be empty. You can build work experience by interning, volunteering, joining school clubs, and having applicable hobbies. For example, if you want to write for a magazine, list that personal blog you’ve spent 3 years on.
Attend Networking Events
Networking is essential especially if you want to get employed. By attending networking events, you put yourself right in the position to meet people who could be the contacts needed for the dream job.
Whether you are looking to make some extra income or start a business while working, side hustling is no small feat.You must learn to balance your commitments, stay consistent and grow while you’re at it.
Temi Ajibewa, founder of The Millionaire Housewife Academy – an online platform that has helped over 5,000 women start their online businesses, shares her golden rules for side hustle success.
Rule 1: Discover Your Passion
Your passion could be an issue you feel strongly about or something you do effortlessly.
Side hustles based on passion tend to be more sustainable because you are self-motivated to go on even when things get tough.
If you are not sure what your passion is, here are 3 ways to get started:
Look out for things you do well without incentives and recognition.
Ask people who know you what they think you are passionate about.
Consider problems people often ask you to solve because you find them easy to solve.
Rule 2: Turn Your Passion into Profit
Doing what you are passionate about is one thing. Knowing how to make money from your passion is a whole different ball game.
Here are 5 basic steps I teach my clients to monetize their passion.
1. Find the problem your passion solves
Your passion cannot bring you money unless it solves a specific human problem.
Your passion must become a product or service for you to make money from it.
A great way to turn your passion into a product is by teaching people what you know for a fee. When I started to monetize The Millionaire Housewife Academy, I created e-books, DVDs and online classes to teach people what I knew about starting and growing an online business.
I always recommend starting off with digital products because they are easier to maintain and become lifelong assets people all over the world can buy.
People pay for products and services, not passions.
5. Promote your hustle
You must shamelessly promote your passion if you want to make money from it.
You can’t afford to be shy if you want your passion to be more than a hobby. If you are nervous, start off by promoting your hustle to people in your network.
Price is only an issue where value is in dispute. Once people realize the value they’re getting from you, paying you becomes non-negotiable. It all starts with finding and monetizing your passion.
The fourth industrial revolution (4th IR) has many of us in a bit of a tizzy! Because we either do not know how we can keep our skillsup to date in our various industry.
Or we are not sure whether we will have jobs once the full-on 4th IR movement takes over.
I would like to zone in on the financial sector, as we have seen cases of some big banks letting staff go in a bid to drive up efficiencies.
They also do this to give a customer-centric offering to their clientele and to meet their shifting expectations.
Gone are the days when your study designation has to be finance-related before you can get a job in the financial sector,
You can acquire both soft and critical skills in various other disciplines such as digital innovation, social media, digital marketing, communications, and PR.
In fact, the list is relatively exhaustive, a simple Google search should have myriad options pop out for you.
We are moving away from the era of traditional disciplines and working in jobs that require only one thing from you.
Now more than before, it works to your advantage to be savvy and knowledgeable in systems outside your focus area.
This not only makes you invaluable as an employee but challenges you to grow sis.
We are right on the cusp of digitization and the move for a business to be tech or digital-first, as more customers want to services rendered at the customer’s convenience.
Technological developments in the 4th IR do not necessarily have to translate into job losses and retrenchments in the financial sector, but rather encourage us to think about how we can collaborate and create better solutions to marry human activity with artificial intelligence.
As individuals, the following tips will ensure that not only do you remain competitive in your sector but that you are agile enough to move along with your organization as it expands and moves away from traditional modes of conducting business.
1. Never Stop Learning
You know that saying that says if you’re the most intelligent person in the room, move to another one?
You can never reach the point of ‘knowing it all’ continue advancing yourself and applying your knowledge base, even if it is through short courses. Stay learning, stay on top of your A-Game
2. Identify and Connect with Influencers in your Industry
Nothing beats learning from titans of industry. Identify someone within your business unit that you can shadow or learn on-the-job capabilities from.
This will put you in good stead should you want to take your shot at a different position within the team.
3. Show up for yourself.
Sis, be on time and put in the work. Most importantly, when you have gotten a seat at the table, make your voice heard, do not cower behind self-doubt or allow the dreadful imposter syndrome to cripple you.
Show up for yourself sis, be on time, put in the work. And most importantly, when you have gotten a seat at the table, make your voice heard, do not cower behind self-doubt or allow the dreadful imposter syndrome to cripple you.
4. Create a personal and professional development plan.
Ensure that you have your PBOB (personal board of directors) holding you accountable to keep on smashing those goals out the park!
The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects.
Captain Kgomotso Phatsima is best known in Botswana for her pioneering work as one of the few women pilots in the country. Her career began in the military, and she diligently worked her way up to becoming a real force to be reckoned with.
Captain Phatsima’s work as a pilot and her passion for youth development led her to discover that there were very few girls who were adept at – or even interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which are key for the aerodynamics space.
Not only are STEM subjects integral for becoming a pilot, or engaging in the aerospace industry, they are also essential for the development of human capital and the future of business in Botswana, Africa, and the world.
She founded the Dare to Dream Foundation (of which she is the President) in 2008 which deals with the advancement of youth, women and girls in STEM, aviation and aerospace as well as entrepreneurship development, with the intention to get young people interested in STEM-preneurship and the aviation and aerospace business.
When I was growing up, I never had the chance to sit like this with a pilot or get into an airplane until I had the chance to fly one.
After I qualified as a pilot, I sat down and thought: ‘What can I do to give the upcoming generation – especially those who grew up in a village, like me – an opportunity to do that?’.
I started Dare to Dream to give back to the community and to try and open up their eyes to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.
On the ‘barrier’ to girls’ entry into STEM & traditionally ‘female/male-dominated’ subjects…
I will talk about myself and my own experience here.
When I told my parents that I want to fly and be a pilot, my mother said ‘In our time, a girl could never fly a plane. You cannot be a soldier!’
Sometimes it goes back to our upbringing and the culture. A girl must be domestic, and boys also have prescribed activities.
So we separate ourselves from engaging in these things. The same mindset goes on to say that ‘Some things are hard, and are only for men’, like piloting or engineering.
With some of our families, their backgrounds are what can hinder the involvement of girls in certain subjects and limit girls to certain careers.
But as the times and technologies change, and with other women and organizations such as ours showing that it’s possible, there is more of an acceptance that you can be and do anything you want.
Is Africa / Botswana in a good position to keep up with the world’s “breakneck’ speed?
I think so because the demographic dividend of the youth in Africa indicates that young people make up most of Africa at 60 percent.
I think that the whole of Africa is at a good advantage to participate in the technological changes that are taking place right now.
There are a lot of young people who are interested in technology. I also think that Batswana are in a good position to take advantage of what is happening.
We just need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era, and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the businesses of tomorrow, which will be different from the businesses of today.
How Botswana (and Africa) can prepare for ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)’…
In other African countries such as Rwanda, you’ll find that coding and robotics are taught in schools and they are part of the curriculum.
Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa stated that coding will be taught in schools. We in Botswana are a little slower in catching on to these developments.
At Dare to Dream, we partnered with Airbus to sponsor 1,500 students across the country in rural places and trained them in robotics in order to prepare them for 4IR.
It was also important that they know that there are careers in the aerospace industry that are STEM-related that they can take advantage of.
We are looking forward to partnering with the Ministry of Education, but there have been some delays, which I hope will be overcome in the future.
Dare to Dream’s most engaged stakeholders…so far…
We have engaged Airbus and also partnered with Botswana Innovation Hub, the University of Botswana and Botswana International University for Science and Technology – BIUST.
BIUST created an initiative to encourage young girls to get into STEM subjects because they realized that the number of girls applying for these subjects was low. They had called 100 girls from Central District schools to participate.
We form partnerships with organizations with the same mandate as us. For example, Debswana is interested in the 4IR and getting young people engaged in it, so we have partnered with them and they have assisted us to roll out our programs.
We have also done work with Major Blue Air, who own planes. The girls get a chance to get onto the planes, and I fly the children.
It’s not just about STEM, it’s about exposing the girls to new experiences and igniting the passion within them. There are other organizations doing work in the same area, and we are looking forward to also having them on board.
There is something very powerful about collaboration.
We have also recently partnered with EcoNet, who have chosen me to lead the Youth Development Programme in coding and entrepreneurship.
What we are doing differently is that we are teaching the kids how to code and build websites, but also entrepreneurship and leadership skills. We have enrolled the first 500 participants and we are starting in July this year.
The role Dare to Dream is playing in the conversation (and action!) towards Africa’s readiness for 4IR…
Even though we have trained 1 500 students, we realized that there is a gap with the teachers, and so we are preparing to train teachers in order to fill that gap.
After going around the country and doing work in 40 schools, I realized that the teachers themselves don’t know about 4IR, coding or robotics. Coding isn’t part of our curriculum at the moment; only a few schools have robotics kits, but they don’t know how to use them.
So, then we pulled in Debswana and other sponsors to train the teachers for a week at the University of Botswana. From there, the teachers will go back to their respective schools and train the students.
The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects.
How young African women can be a part of The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)…
Catherine Lesetedi is a graduate of Statistics from the University of Botswana. She has built a career in the insurance industry since she joined it in 1992. Currently, Catherine is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL).
She has built her career from scratch, and over the years, she has been adamant that adopting a flexible style of leadership is beneficial for leading an organization and getting the best out of her team.
Her career so far…
Looking at Lesetedi’s career, nothing about her story and her leadership principles and philosophies are ‘textbook’. Her style of leadership is pliable and acrobatic. It lends itself to whatever situation she and her team are in.
She’s extremely driven, open and open-minded, preferring to lead from behind, pushing her team forward, encouraging their gifts and honoring their intellect, allowing them to innovate, to grow and give to the business what she cannot.
Catherine maximizes on their strengths and makes sure that wherever there are gaps, there are people who are passionate, willing and able to execute and fill them.
Her journey there…
There is nothing predictable about Catherine Lesetedi. Even her choice of Statistics as a field to study at the University of Botswana (UB) was a bit of a wild card, even for her.
She describes it saying, “when we were making choices about what to study at varsity, we didn’t really know much about careers, to be honest with you, I didn’t know anything about Statistics until I got to the Department of Student Placement at the Ministry of Education.”
“I was late; my father and I had run out of fuel. By the time we arrived, I was out of breath, and I had forgotten my initial course choices. My brother, who I really admired, had studied Public Administration and Political Science, and that’s what I wanted.”
“They said that that weird combination didn’t exist, and told me that I was going to do Statistics and Demography.”
“If you think something is difficult, it becomes really difficult. If you think you can do it, sometimes you even surprise yourself.” – Catherine Lesetedi, CEO, BIHL Group
Her life experiences…
She studied Statistics at the University of Botswana, and even though her journey into that field was incidental, once there, she made the best of her situation, excelled and gleaned many things that she took forward with her into the rest of her life.
Certain experiences and her mindset set the stage for her early career and propelled her forward.
According to her, “in terms of decision-making, logical thinking, the confidence, and aptitude to learn; the program grounded me.”
“I may not use the formulas every day, but there are skills that I gained that I apply on a daily basis, even if I don’t recognize that ‘this is Statistics.”
The mathematical element empowered her to be able to engage with budgets and numbers, and not shy away from that aspect of whichever job she did.
Her philosophies for life…
All of the disciplines in the world are interrelated, so having a good understanding of what is going on across the board is beneficial for one; especially if a young woman wants to build herself up and build her career.
This is something she practices herself because, throughout the course of her career, she has gradually improved upon her leadership skills, attending leadership courses and taking on the responsibility of self-improvement.
Doing this has encouraged her to take a deeper look at herself; what drives her and pushes her beyond her own limitations. This outlook has put her in good stead as a leader, as someone who encourages others, ensuring that they are able to get the best out of what they need to do.
As a mentor, both personally and professionally, the story that she tells, the example that she sets, is one of “show up and do your best.”
Ms. Lesetedi is big on recognizing talent and putting it to good use within the BIHL Group. These are some of the elements that make her up as a woman, as a leader, and these are some of the things that she has imparted to her mentees.
Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.
Jane Egerton-Idehen is the founder of womenncareers. A platform that supports women globally in growing their careers through career advice, practical tips, tools and resources from different female executives
She is an accomplished Executive of thriving divisions within two Fortune 500 firms, as well as an advisor, spokesperson, and board member of nonprofit organizations.
Jane Egerton-Idehen is also an expert in the Telecommunication industry with over seventeen years of experience. She is currently the country manager Nigeria for an international satellite company, Avanti communications limited.
Recently she was celebrated as one of Nigeria’s “50 Leading Ladies in Corporate Nigeria” by Leading Ladies Africa. She has an MBA from the University of Warwick and an Executive Education from Havard Business School.
In this article, SLA contributor Anwuli speaks to Jane Egerton-Idehen as she talks about her impact on young women as she’s helping them in their career growth.
Since founding Women and Careers, what unique challenges have you helped women tackle in their growing careers?
Since starting Women and Careers, we have seen a lot of awareness about issues facing women as they grow their career.
Most women in their mid-careers, are seeking skills and a support system to help them grow their careers while they manage their home and family. While the single ladies are seeking to combine a career with building family relations and obligations.
I have noticed that most women in the early part of their career need guidance and some form of mentoring to guide them as they grow. To consciously invest in developing themselves and maneuvering the dynamics of the office place.
These challenges form a wide spectrum from like microaggression at work to lacking sponsorships for leadership roles.
We also have the impact of the patriarch in the workplace and society at large. There are also common ones like work-life balance.
I recognize that we need to talk more about these issues, share our stories and support each other through the journey
What level of progress has Women and Careers achieved in reaching out to women globally?
Since officially starting in 2017, Women and career has taken our passion to a larger audience. Our passion is to support women to grow their careers and encourage young girls to start one.
We have touched a lot of lives through our events and activities. We also celebrate a lot of women who are successfully paving a way in their fields no matter how unpopular those sectors or industries are.
WomenNcareers has worked with outside organizations to discuss these challenges women are facing bringing awareness to them and making sure relevant stakeholders are involved to support in addressing these issues.
We have co-sponsored events like TEDXAjegunle women, Sozo Networks Before I Turn 18 program for teenagers. To reach out to women and young girls in underserved areas.
We have just finished a mentoring program for young female undergraduates at the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa Ghana.
Our hope is that this can inspire and motivate a lot of women to work their paths as well.
What kind of support would women starting their careers in STEM fields need from professionals in the field?
Firstly Organizations need to be more deliberate about the pipeline problem especially in STEM fields.
Data shows that women are still underrepresented at the entry levels. This requires that companies relook at their hiring process.
A study by Women Matter states that;
Men are often hired and promoted based on their potential, while women are often hired and promoted based on their track record. This may be particularly acute for women at the start of their careers when their track records are relatively short.
Secondly, we noticed a lot of leakages when it comes to female talent in the STEM fields. Women starting their careers in the industry need a lot of support from the organizations they work to ensure they grow their careers in the field.
Quite a lot of them leave the field when they start getting married and probably having kids. One of the main challenges is managing their young family with the continuously demanding professional life.
Organizations can consider flexible working hours. They can consider maternity and post-maternity policies that are supportive of such women.
I would also recommend women in this phase seek a lot of support from loved ones and seek mentors that can guide them to navigate this phase.
Metaphorically I would relate the discussion about Women in STEM fields to what Charles Blow, an American Journalist for the New York Times, once said;
It requires that you fight on two fronts; trying to reduce the size of the hill and climbing the hill – Jane Egerton-Idehen
This is how I have always felt about women who try to grow their careers in the STEM fields.
I have come to acknowledge that it is a constant battle to have this. With all the challenges, they must face, it feels like climbing a hill.
It needs to be recognized that we ( Policymakers, Corporate organizations, etc) need to reduce the hill for women who in the past century have started to branch into these fields where the rules of engagement were created with male folks in mind.
What lessons can other women take from your journey when they feel discouraged?
I would say “your career is a marathon and not a race so don’t beat yourself up”. Life will throw you curveballs, There will be highs and lows. There will be upward movement and sometimes lateral career moves. Learn to keep pushing forward no matter what.
Nnenna Ofoegbu holds a BA Hons degree in Public Relations and Communications and has recently started her own Events business.
She loves writing self-help themed articles and is a mentor. Nnenna is the founder of Yes You Can! A platform that inspires others to live a more focused, goal-driven life.
She also has a long-term passion for fashion accessories and has started her own fashion jewelry company called Exquisitely Yours London.
Nnenna is a huge advocate for giving up personal time for free in exchange for gaining valuable experience, knowledge and career advancement.
Through volunteering and interning, she gained some connections, opened doors and opportunities she would never have been offered otherwise had she not volunteered her time to work for free.
And that is why she thinks one should consider volunteering if they have never done it before. Whether you’re already employed in your dream job or you’re a fresh graduate looking for your first dream role.
It could be through a professional internship at a global organization or by volunteering in your spare time with an NGO.
There are many advantages to volunteering like being offered a job within the organization. Bringing your expertise in one area or learning a new skill in another area you’re interested in can benefit both parties.
You’ll also get to meet new people and expand your professional network.
However, opting to volunteer may not be a financially viable move for everyone. Although a lot of organizations can allow you to work remotely if you are expected to work from the office than expenses like travel and feeding may be left up to you to cover.
This can be off-putting especially if your finances are restricted, but there are ways around it. You could suggest agreeing to volunteer for a short period like two weeks for example, or on a part-time basis like one day a month. Do what works best for you. This will help you to limit your costs.
She was fortunate as the charity offered to reimburse her for her travel and feeding expenses, and she worked on a part-time basis of two days a week.
She thought it was going to be a piece of cake – oh how wrong she was! It was hard work and challenging. But she had a great mentor who helped her work on and improve her skill set.
It was all worth it in the end when she got to walk a well-known British celebrity down the red carpet at the charity’s annual awards ceremony and go to St James’ Palace for a private garden party.
There are some perks! So, why should you consider volunteering?
Here are Nnenna’s 5 reasons why you should volounteer.
1. Gain or improve an existing skillset
Taking up a corporate internship or volunteering with a social enterprise will give you the opportunity to level up your skillset.
Whether it’s your I.T proficiency or presentation skills, use volunteering as a valid way to learn something new or improve an existing skill.
Working with other skilled colleagues will also enhance your skills and improve your interpersonal abilities.
Top Tip: Keep a list of any new skills you have gained both soft and hard as it will increase your market value.
By keeping a journal during your time volunteering you will be able to self-reflect on your personal and professional development.
Make sure you update your CV, as additional skills add value to it.
2. Shows ambition
Generally speaking, ambitious minded people are more likely to get ahead in the workplace. Whereas the passive and unassertive person tends to be overlooked for promotion.
Volunteering helps you to create the right impression within the organization. It shows that not only are you willing to give up your time for free but that you’re career-minded and take your professional development seriously.
It shows senior management that you’re focused, responsible and enthusiastic member of the team. It shows assertiveness.
Now all you must do is bring your A-game and add value to the organization by positively contributing to the team.
Top Tip: Set some goals or list the things that you would like to have mastered or achieved during your time with the organization.
Discuss them with your supervisor and come to an agreement on what support you will need to achieve your goals.
3. Improves your network
Volunteering can be a useful way of expanding your professional network. Get involved and try to participate with any department or team activities, social gatherings, and work meetings.
This is also a good time to look for a career mentor if you don’t have one already. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a senior manager.
It could be your co-worker or a colleague from a different team or department.
Top Tip: Add your co-workers and managers (if appropriate) on LinkedIn and ask them to endorse you.
4. Boosts your confidence
Not only will volunteering boost your skills, but your self-confidence will also benefit. It takes guts and tenacity to get out there and join a new organization as a volunteer.
It’s a positive achievement and something to feel proud of. It will make you feel good about yourself and confident in your capabilities.
Top Tip: Don’t feel undervalued because you’re not being paid a salary, rather see it as a chance to be a fly on the wall.
You’ll get to see behind the scenes which could inspire you to suggest some ideas like for a charity fundraiser or a corporate social responsibility activity for example.
5. Brings you closer to your dream job
Whether it’s your first role you’re chasing or you want to pivot into a new career sector through volunteering, it’s the sum total of all your newly acquired skills and connections that will bring you closer to where you ultimately want to go career or even business-wise (even if they don’t offer you a job at the end of it).
If you are looking for employment, then volunteering with the right organization certainly helps.
Top Tip: Add your voluntary work to your LinkedIn profile with any relevant links to the projects or work you’ve been involved in.
She shares her experience of volunteering overseas and advocates for intercultural awareness to be at the heart of charity and aid efforts to improve foreign assistance in the motherland.
In this article, she also provides consultancy for sustainability advice, strategy development and/or content creation.
Shika, as she is fondly called, believes it is important for NGOs to develop empowering stories of self-managed income/resources to challenge the mindset that success derives from external donors as opposed to the people themselves.
In 2015, when she returned home from a volunteer placement in Tanzania, she founded “Becoming Africquainted” as an initiative to candidly recounting the life-changing memories she made, including some difficult observations of when Western intercultural communication goes badly wrong.
Since then, it has grown into a platform of its own that provides discussion and resources to all aspiring volunteers or expats, encouraging them to undertake their service overseas responsibly and respectfully.
Shika on Intercultural Awareness
For Shika, intercultural awareness is an unmissable step that any foreign volunteer must be willing to take to better know their own cultural limitations and how to healthily navigate new ones.
However, this must be reciprocated by host communities within Africa too, by ensuring they take responsibility for their own narrative and how they wish for it to be told and remembered long after any volunteer exchange has ended.
It will take time to help visitors to form new associations of Africa they see, but the benefits to sewing two-way intercultural connections are fruitful and increasingly necessary for the prosperity of the interconnected world we live in.
To be a successful foreign volunteer, Shika believes it begins with an understanding of yourself / skillset and a genuine desire to be of service to someone. Such a person is often thought to be self-sacrificing with care for their wider community and an unrelenting passion to contribute to a cause bigger than themselves.
However, to be able to add accountability and value to foreign volunteering efforts in Africa, one needs to;
1. Have a good knowledge of the country and organization whose aims you would like to champion.
Each summer in Africa, this ‘higher cause’ has all too often displayed itself as ‘saviourism’, ‘privilege’ and ‘Western ideas’ – to name a few.
What usually begins as a selfless summer trip quickly manifests itself into self-serving behavior when culture shock takes over, conditions become unfavorable to live in and personal expectations are not met.
These circumstances fuel a type of instinctive desire to fix things that do not exist ‘back home’.
Though the intention may come from a good place, the means by which it is executed becomes misplaced and frequently results in misunderstanding and conflict.
A lack of intercultural awareness. A large number of young people in the West – diaspora included – are conditioned into thinking that volunteering overseas is a worthy extra-curricular life experience or a means of personal development.
These reasons are problematic because they refer to an underlying tone of personal gain that volunteering is based upon.
The emphasis is rarely ever to learn about culture itself – something which really should underpin any healthy volunteer exchange.
2. Acquire traits that enable you to observe, recognize, perceive and positively respond to new and unfamiliar intercultural interactions.
Some markers of intercultural awareness within international development are:
Humility – being receptive to, and accepting of, new and unfamiliar situations
Patience – in recognizing that positive outcomes take time to reveal themselves
Humanity – acting humanely with a trusted concern for the community being served.
These traits are not something we can quantify or expect anyone to learn quickly in a crash-course.
But volunteer exchanges can be measured by the quality of relationships being built, along with their participation and respect for our cultures once they arrive.
One indication of this lies in how well volunteer behaviors are recognized and reciprocated by the communities which they serve.
3. Volunteers should be given guided self-reflection time.
This is to serve like one-to-one inductions in a paid workplace where their observations and experiences are discussed to foster a dialogue which enables them to explain their realities so that they can be better understood.
Doing this not only prevents them from distancing themselves from problems they see by claiming ignorance, but it also provides a space for healthy goals to be set, contributions to be assessed and accountability to take place.
This is important to help redefine the negative African post-colonial perceptions that many foreign volunteers have unconsciously grown up with.
After all, what better way to rewrite the story than if told it ourselves to those who do have a desire to listen, by virtue of visiting the continent first-hand?
A good start for non-profit-organisations is to offer their own guides into standards of behavior that outlines an interpretation of volunteer ideas and expectations during their stay.
This formalizes the process whilst mitigating the risk of volunteers unhelpfully referring back to their (often biased) perception of problems and methods of solving them.
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