Have you ever been so confused about which career path to take —or better still be jaded by the courses on offer. In the part of the world I live, capabilities are often reduced to the ‘societal value’ of the course studied. That is why almost 90% of university hopefuls in Nigeria fight tooth and nail to get admitted into the ‘robust and lucrative’ departments.
Parents want their kids to study courses that will secure their futures; not ones that are merely a “waste of time: (going with my dad’s words). Courses like Medicine, Law, Accounting, Pharmacy or Mechanical Engineering are regarded as ‘de la crème’.
This inevitably puts a lot of pressure on young people and those who fail to meet up to this expected standard are often seen as the leftovers. I can be considered as one of the leftovers because I was part of those denied admission into law.
My broken dreams
One lesson I have learnt that is still relevant in my career journey is that dreams can change and so we can’t afford to focus on the unfulfilled ones. Soon after my graduation, I was given an opportunity to become a copywriter; I never thought writing could be a path for me. It was when I went for an interview that the two panelists convinced and opened my eyes to the uniqueness of my ability to write.
At the moment I realized that the allure for law or banking was no longer there. The interviewers had planted an idea of creative writing inside of me and since then I have learnt to hone my skills. Over the years, I have come to love my new career in writing and I thrive to become better. So if you happen to stumble into a career like l did, you might find these steps useful:
1. Never stop being hungry
Don’t ever be content with the basicness of the new career. Get empowered with every given opportunity. When I started as a copywriter, I quickly enrolled myself in an advertising school in Lagos where I learnt firsthand from the industry veterans. Soon after, I began to attend trainings related to my field and I still to date commit myself to multiple learning.
Also don’t be afraid to spread your wings in the new field. I started with copywriting but I gradually began to explore journalistic writing. I used to send weekly opinion pieces to the Sunday editor of Punch newspaper. Those publications boosted my morale and steadied my feet later as a journalist.
Explore the new field and don’t be comfortable with average,strive for excellence. As African women, we put a lot at stake if we decide to be complacent in our careers and not seize the moment.Dreams can change and we can’t afford to hold on to the unfulfilled ones —even with your career Click To Tweet
2. The key word is patience
I know you have heard this word ‘patience’ countless times; but it remains one virtue that must be acquired for us to get to the peak of our careers. Yes, it was one interview that reset my career goals but it is patience that I have continually needed to stay calm in my career journey stay calm in my career journey.
It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of comparing our career stories with others but it is not right or fair on us. I particularly am guilty of this as often times I feel behind in my career in comparison to the different success stories of my colleagues.
This is what I do whenever the thought crosses my mind; I take a deep breath and remind myself how far I have come and further challenge myself on the next career decision. The secret to being patience is never giving up even when all doesn’t make sense.
3. Get mentors
There are mistakes in life that we can escape from. This is what mentors are for; they’ve walked that path and they can constructively guide us through our career goals if only we ask. Career mentorship is vital and it can detect how far we can go in our careers, so get to it today and seek out those mentors now.
There are lots of mentoring programs for women of African descent that are committed to building and shaping the careers of African women; give yourself the opportunity of having a voice in this patriarchal society.
Recently, I realized I was getting rusty in writing (I took a break to have babies) and I decided to seek professional help from an old colleague. I periodically began to send articles to her so she could constructively critique me. It’s been months now and am eternally grateful that she took me under her wing to mentor because my skills have significantly improved and l now have better approaches than before.