Falling into the gap: life in-between varsity and employment

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A gap year is not a waste of time, no matter what our relatives love to say Click To Tweet

Graduating from university is one of the most satisfying moments in life, you’ve accomplished your goals and now you are ready for the rest of your life. It can also bring a lot of anxiety especially if you don’t have a job lined up.

Don’t worry though, great things take time but its how you spend that time that also matters. What you do during period between finishing university and starting a job can actually shape the rest of your career so here’s some tips on how to make the most of it.

Take a gap year

free-gifVarsity can leave you burnt out, tired and overall unable to deal. A gap year is not a waste of time, no matter what our relatives love to say. Taking time off can help you figure out what you want from life and your career.  If you can afford to travel, do so.

If you have to pay your way, consider teaching overseas or if you’re just looking for work experience an internship at the UN could be a viable option. If you are settling back home you could also volunteer, this opportunity will not only look great on your CV but is an opportunity to help in your local community.

Use the time to plan

Graduating from university doesn’t necessarily mean you know exactly what you want to do. It is highly likely you spent more time focusing on the next assignment due or exam to write and never really sat down to think about your future. This is the time you have to sit back and plan, perhaps start a journal.

Set out your career goals (using this SLA guide), business plan, decide who you are and where you are going. Doing this can keep you extremely motivated and will help you plan your next step. Set new goals, you don’t always have to fit into the traditional path and this may be the time to broaden your career search, you could consider going back to school.

Protect your mental health

It is extremely demoralizing to watch your peers get jobs straight out of varsity. It is also very easy to lose motivation when the job hunt is not automatically successful; so keeping a positive attitude is important for your well being. Exercising can be a fun way to keep emotionally grounded and fit. You could try out new forms of exercise like Pilates or Yoga which have been said to be mood boosters.

Creating structures is important especially for people who find a balance by knowing what to do. You could wake up at a certain time each day, set aside hours to job hunt, set time for writing etc. Creating structure can help you from falling into a slump, when we feel like we are doing nothing we lose our way a bit and so by creating stability we keep motivated.

Make your hobbies your career

i-can-do-anything-mindy-gifOne of the coolest things about having downtime is being able to do what you love most. If that’s reading novels, create a book list and get to reading. If writing is your thing, start a blog. It is a great creative outlet that could potentially lead to new opportunities.

Through exploring your passions, you could turn your hobbies in to a possible career opportunity. The opportunities are endless.

Online courses

Keeping occupied during this period is important to make sure you keep motivated. By taking online courses you enhance your skills and keep your brain active. The courses you could take could be influenced by your career choice because they could potentially make you a better candidate when you apply for jobs.

It could also be a smart opportunity to read up on different disciplines, use this time to explore your options.

Use this time to work through your business ideas or set your career goals Click To Tweet

It is okay to not be okay

things-happen-gifSometimes life has its own plans for us and timing just is not in your favour. Even though this gap feels like the worst thing that could happen to you it might not be. The time will allow you to work through your business ideas or setting your career goals.

Your emotional well- being definitely is vital so taking time off to check yourself may just be what you need. Sometimes time has to stand still for us to move forward.

5 things to do before leaving school

All students should make plans for life after school if they plan to be #MotherlandMoguls Click To Tweet

One of the biggest mistakes students make is avoiding the future. That is making no plans for after school or laying down foundations for post graduate life. Many times, you see graduates sitting at home even after the one year National Youth Service without potential jobs or side gigs and no money.

With the rate of unemployment, post-graduate life is scary. That’s why you shouldn’t be slacking! Here are a few tips on things to do before leaving school so you’re on top of your game after graduation.

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1. Save up

Whether you are in your first year, your last year or in-between, if you haven’t started, it is time to get on the bandwagon.

A little sum put away at intervals makes a substantial sum at the end of the day. Sometimes, the money is just not enough, we get that. Still, shaving a little off the top before facing your list of needs and wants, helps build a safety blanket.

This may help finance a start-up venture or provide sustenance during the dry after-school days.

2. Lay it all out

Things don’t always go the way we plan but trust me girl, it feels good to have a plan. Now, I am not just talking about relationship and marriage plans, which are needed. I am talking business and entrepreneurial visions.

Map it out. Map the road to those goals out too. Yes, things change, life happens, and sometimes we have to make some tweaks to our initial plans. Yet, it is necessary to have something to look forward to after school and to work towards them.

Your plan will determine how you work in school. Your grade points and your business life will also be geared towards those visions. Think this is too much work? Don’t, you’ll be thanking us in the future.

Your future plans will determine how you work while in school Click To Tweet


3. Make use of the opportunity

If you plan on working within your course of study then being in school is the right time to become a member of the professional body of your course. Here’s a tip, it is usually cheaper to join professional bodies as students than as postgraduates.

Another thing to make use of is online courses. Most campuses have free or cheap WiFi access and most service providers have special plans that are campus oriented. Use this to your advantage and get a boatload of free or cheap relevant online courses without breaking the bank on data charges.

Business wise, you can use the opportunity to hone your skills, go online and improve your work. Though the workload might be bulky, students still have a great chance to fit in extracurricular activities.

So, rather than spending too much time partying it up (this is needed but it’s not a priority), carve out time to use what is available to you to get what you want.

Start making friendships that will last a lifetime while in university Click To Tweet

4. Squad goals

Yes! Start making friendships that will last a lifetime. This is the best period to build your support team and your squad.

You can figure out people of like minds, goals and visions, people with the ability to propel you. No haters, slackers or scrubs need apply. You need true friends to stand by you.

Friends whose lanes cross with yours, but never clash. This can be the foundation of an empire tomorrow. Squad shopping is slightly hard but not impossible. Making close-knit friendships post-school can be hard but in school you have lost of time for girls night out and everything in between. You get to plant, water and grow something beautiful —your squad.

5. Please LIVE!


You know the saying, “don’t just go through school, let school go through you”? Live, savour every moment, do not zone out and do not go through school in a haze! Make sure your time in school is filled with memorable days.

Keep a journal if necessary (which is like totally necessary). Make mistakes and learn. Get yourself out of messes, dust yourself and go on. Let your school life be one massive “WHOOP!!!!” with a lot of “yays!” and a few “oops!”

Live, savour every moment, do not zone out and do not go through school in a haze! Click To Tweet

Go all round, do not be fixed, fit in, then stand out. Complicated, yeah? But no. There are places to fit in and there are other places where you need to do you. Be well rounded, academically, socially and spiritually. Make every moment count and have an amazing squad to share them with.

Finally, here is a toast to you for the amazing journey you will embark on.

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Recently graduated? How to make unemployment work for you

anthea malwandle unemployed jobseeker

In recent years it has become common to find yourself unemployed after graduating. How you spend those few months in unemployment (or years if we are keeping it all the way real), could add a lot of value to your development. Use that time to invest in yourself and begin the journey of personal branding. Before you tune out, these overused buzzwords are always relevant, especially considering the changing nature of the workplace.

To quote Bryan Kramer; “…your personal brand is how you appear to the world. Different than self-promotion, personal branding represents a full-time commitment to defining yourself as a true thought-leader within your industry”. So, here are a few tips to get you started.

Position yourself near the ‘central nodes’ of networks

The most common piece of advice you will get is, network. It is useful to remember that when it comes to networking you must think quality over quantity. When you are just starting out, reach out to bigger or more established brands (companies or people) that you wish to learn from.

LinkedIn co-founder and the ‘most connected man in Silicon Valley’, Reid Hoffman helped shape my thinking in this area. Reid explains that the most effective networks are built when you connect yourself near the ‘central nodes’ of the spaces you want to be in. ‘Central nodes’ here refers to the most influential areas within your networks. Trust me, to avoid endless meetings that ultimately go nowhere, you should be picky. Take time to research key influencers in the spaces that you are interested in and reach out to them.

Ensure your networks are usable

Once you know who you want to, you need to build trust and goodwill with them. This is in order to turn them into contacts that you can actually use. One way to build this relationship is to find out if there is an area they need help with that you can add value to. Show them the quality of your work.

People are far more likely to become usable contacts in the future when you have established a mutually beneficial relationship.

Know your hustle. Know your value

While learning the landscape of the industry you are trying to position yourself in is important, you also must understand how you fit into that space. You need to be sure of the value you bring, and be able to articulate it clearly. It may seem old fashioned but it would be a good idea to sit down and write your personal value proposition. When you’re through,  mould it into a short elevator pitch.

What’s your background? What are your best qualities? What are your strengths? What is your business approach? Do you have any notable successes that speak to the opportunity in front of you? Once you know what you are good at, be able to boldly and clearly communicate it. My advice? As the saying goes, “Keep it humble with a hint of Kanye.”

Mentor your weaknesses

Having a mentorship is a tried and tested way to keep yourself motivated and accountable. However, the relationship is only as beneficial as you allow it to be. Often there is a temptation to put your best foot forward when dealing with a mentor. After all, you can’t have your idol think he/she is wasting their time on you right? We all have areas we need to grow in, so make sure you open yourself up to advice in these areas.

Start something

It almost doesn’t matter what it is; a blog, a book club, a weekly Google hangout, just make sure you create a space for you to learn, grow and focus your passions. Time is your most valuable asset during this period, and that combined with your passion and skill is a formula for a fulfilling way to get through your time at home.

It also helps to show future employers that you are able to take initiative.

Good luck!

3 things to do when your academic background and your career are worlds apart


There is an indescribable joy that is experienced by a Nigerian who has just graduated from an institution of higher education – what a delightful feeling!

No more paying of exorbitant school fees. No more buying of handouts from lecturers under duress. No more dodging from sleazy lecturers. No more coping with below-par study situations. Surely, things can only get better from then onward.

However, when the time comes to seek out and secure gainful employment, the graduate would soon realize that she has jumped from the fabled frying pan into the fire of reality. If one was disillusioned by the undergraduate experience, a greater disillusionment awaits such an individual when faced with the task of finding a job which matches their actual field of study.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 7.5% from 6.4% in the first three months of 2015. There are therefore too few jobs for too many graduates, and so graduates often have to grab any job they are able to get with both hands.

A lot of my contemporaries who work in the Nigerian banking sector, for instance, did not study anything remotely related to banking or finance in their various tertiary institutions. They studied courses like Microbiology and Applied Chemistry; they took banking jobs because those were the jobs available, not necessarily because they had a deep love for finance.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in such a situation?

Here are 3 ways to make the most out of it.

Adapt your learned knowledge to your current job

For instance, if you are a Political Science graduate who has, after a long job search, gotten a job in a Bank as a Marketing Executive. You should try to think about the aspects of studying Political Science which you could adapt to your current situation. These would include things like

  • Being able to undertake thorough research (in this situation, research on your target market).
  • Being apt at writing reports.
  • The ability to analyze situations from different points of view.

When you approach the situation in this manner, you would perform well at your job, and you may even start to see it as a long-term career, rather than a temporary situation.

There is an added bonus if it turns out that your personality happens to match your job; so if it just so happens that you’re very charming and persuasive, your job as a marketer would be more tolerable for you.

Sell yourself

For this step to work very well for you, you must first ensure that you put in your best in any job situation in which you find yourself for the duration of time you are there. Then, if you decide that you want to move on from the job, you have to pitch yourself as an expert in your current job, who just happens to also be an expert in your academic field of study.

If I was the hiring manager of an organization, I would be very intrigued by a candidate who is a trained microbiologist who currently works as a marketer at a bank.  It is now up to you, as a job applicant, to really demonstrate how those experiences would make you a very desirable candidate for the advertised role.

So, you must always ensure that you are excellent at your job, even if it isn’t where you thought you would end up; that excellence would most likely be your stepping stone to future success.

Don’t give up

It is very easy to get disillusioned when, after months or years of searching for a job, you end up with a job that is unrelated to your field of study.

Some graduates end up seeing the job they have gotten as one which they are okay with doing on a long-term basis. If this is not the case for you, please do not fret or get discouraged. Keep applying for the job which you desire, while making sure that your skills in your field of study are up to date. Take online courses if possible.

Read up on new trends in that area of expertise. Try to get a mentor to guide you on your journey. If it is possible, try to volunteer in some way to keep your knowledge in that area up to date. Whatever you do, try not to be sad about the situation.

While you do all this, you must strive to maintain optimal professionalism at your current job. Having a job which doesn’t have anything to do with your field of study might be source of irritation, but not having a job at all is an even worse situation.

Have you experienced such a situation on your quest to become a #MotherlandMogul? Kindly share your experiences in the comments section below.

Don’t give up!