Back to school? Here are 6 ways to make the best out of your Uni years

Congratulations! You just got into university – that is an amazing milestone (and you should celebrate).

Now, it’s one of two things, you are excited about this Bachelors or Masters degree you are about to start, and it was your choice, or on the other hand, you are not so excited about this degree.

Perhaps you were forced or coerced into it, or you are just plain confused.

Here are some points that I have put together that will help you maximize your time in school beyond your degree.

Your Grades are Important

I know you were hoping I wouldn’t say this, but your grades are very important. They might not be the ‘be all and end all’ of your career, but good grades can be very crucial to helping you land your first job or helping you get your foot in the door.

So, attend classes, be diligent with your assignments and study! Learn about the grading styles of your professors and lecturers, learn from your seniors, ask questions and do well academically.

Your grades are not everything

I know you think I just contradicted myself, but grades are not everything. Your abilities to apply knowledge and add value to everything you do are far more important than the numbers that make up your grade point average.

As much as it is good to well in school, you need to gain skills that will help you stand out from the crowd and can give you an edge even above people with higher grades. The best ways to do this are to gain practical experience; you can do this by volunteering for causes, events, leadership roles, etc.    

Opportunities Abound

Be alert: University is the land of opportunities – whether they are opportunities to learn, get scholarships, earn, fellowships and so on.

Ensure that you have your ears to the ground and are aware of the opportunities around campus that you are eligible for. Apply for as many as you can – it never hurts to try.

Joining associations are very helpful for this, most student associations receive firsthand information about campus opportunities and share them with their members.   

Pursue your Passions:

I mean this with all sincerity, pursue your passions. If you have a flair for fashion, beauty, technology, writing, art, media. University is an amazing launchpad. As a student, people are more likely to be helpful and to want to mentor you. Organizations usually run campus ambassadorship programs or have student groups, as much as is in your power, join these groups.

Network

I know it is cliché, but you have probably heard the saying – your network is your net worth. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it is very true. In school, you will meet tons of people both on and off campus that can shape the course of your life, personally and professionally.

Try to attend events beyond class, join clubs, associations and societies, volunteer and put in your best so that you can stand out.

Your friends, classmates, lecturers might be the greatest source of opportunities for you while in school and even beyond.    

Have fun, but stay out of trouble

Don’t forget to have fun, whatever fun means to you that is legal and safe. But as much as is in your power, STAY OUT OF TROUBLE. Know about the rules/laws that apply in your school and your location and act accordingly.

University is a great place that can serve as a launchpad to the fulfillment of your dreams. So make friends, study, put yourself out there, and do great things! I’m rooting for you.


 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

Scale your Business in 2018 with Midridge

Midridge offers bespoke solutions to small and medium scale businesses who are looking to master their financials, make quantum leaps in their business and need to make pivotal and strategic decisions, driven by financial indices.

They are positioned to help businesses maximize their economic potentials, and deliver enhanced, long-term value to their stakeholders. 

The financial advisory offerings help business owners to find a solution to business finance problems, create the desired business transformation that helps them scale in profitability and operate more effectively.

Finance expert, business strategist, freelance writer and managing consultant of Midridge International – Abiola Adediran, shares some insights and tips on how to scale your business in a new business year.


 

Deep down, you have a bigger vision for your business and yourself, as an entrepreneur and woman of impact. Your smart, bold choices and hard work have paid off with the business of your dreams.

But when you get a moment to reconnect with your big vision, you see the potential for your profits and impact to be so much more. You were meant to lead. But the realities of running a business, and juggling the offline demands of life have kept you at status quo for far too long.

Behind the scenes, there are essential shifts that must happen in order for you to grow., and your calendar and time management systems need a serious reboot.

You might want to leverage a team, but you’re spinning your wheels when it comes to hiring, delegating, and leading others well. Other people manage your money, but your black-and-white financial picture is a blur, and those “tape-and-glue” systems you set up on a whim are now costing you time and money.

If you’re honest with yourself, you haven’t fully stepped into the driver’s seat in critical areas of your business.

As women, we have enough on our plate. Stepping into the “driver’s seat” sounds like more work and even less “me” time.

In my experience working with women entrepreneurs, I have come to realize that what stops women from being true leaders is not a lack of drive or determination to step into that higher role. Instead, it’s letting the same old systems and routines run you and your business–which keeps you satisfactorily underperforming, year after year.

It’s no wonder so many women entrepreneurs shy away from taking on the title of CEO!

But until you say YES to working in your genius as the visionary leader of your business, you will remain stuck in the status quo.

You have to make a very conscious decision: Either let the business run you around in circles and into the ground, or, take ownership, and really adopt the mindset of a leader.

You need to truly step into the driver’s seat of your business, you MUST

  • Let go of the same old systems and routine that are not working for your business.
  • Get aligned with your vision as a leader, entrepreneur, and woman of impact.
  • Get strategic and open yourself up to the big 360° view of your business.

All successful women at the top of their game today know that THIS is their ticket to freedom.

As you map out and implement your strategy for the year, you will need tactical inputs to help you stay grounded and connected to important challenges and considerations, uncover profit gaps in your business and proven tactics and processes to help close those gaps, work smarter and double your productivity, to think strategically and stay focused on the big picture.

As a CEO, it is important that you identify the main business drivers to pay attention to, in order to increase cash flow.

What’s really happening in all areas of your sales cycle—are you maximizing cash flow or are there bottlenecks?

How do you weigh out your current opportunities and determine which ones align well with your long-term strategy, and which ones are better left alone?

Your commitment to scaling your business in 2018 and stepping into a higher level of profitability and business success requires that you do a business diagnosis, evaluate your strategy, understand your financials, maximize your profits and identify means of creating consistent cash flows in your business.


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Investment Opportunities in Nigeria: The Top 4 sectors

The past year has been one of economic progress for Nigeria, with Africa’s largest economy managing to crawl back into growth territory in the second quarter of 2017.

The Nigerian government has realized that they need to make the country as attractive and lucrative as possible for offshore investors to bring their capital, skills and business trade into the country.

The need to develop the Nigerian economy offers lucrative potential returns Click To Tweet

One way is to provide tax holidays to “pioneer companies,” who are engaged in the production of export goods, establishing new industries, or expanding production in vital sectors of the economy.

Pioneer companies that are eligible under the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act can enjoy an income “tax holiday” for a period of up to five years. In addition, pioneer companies enjoy other benefits such as the exemption from withholding tax on dividends paid out of pioneer profits.

Here’s a look at investment opportunities to consider:

 

MANUFACTURING

Nigeria’s population is an estimated 186 million people. This population suggests a massive potential workforce as well as a consumer base. For a manufacturer this is an ideal scenario, not only do you have potential customers, but you also have potential employees.

The Nigerian government is eager to expand the manufacturing capability in the country, and to that end, they are offering incentives for manufacturers that are able to locally source their raw materials, for example, agro-allied manufacturers processing foodstuffs such as fruit juices and vegetable oils.

Any manufacturing industry that provides multiplier effect solutions for the economy is also looked upon favorably. An example of this would be machine tools, flat sheet metal, and spare parts manufacturing.

Finally, any investment in research institutes, especially those that focus on adaptive research and commercialization of local inventions, is looked upon favorably by the Nigerian government.

An organization that has seen the potential in Nigeria is US-based software trainer @Andela Click To Tweet

 

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

Nigeria is one of the fastest growing internet users in the world. According to Statista, a global statistics company, there are approximately 76.2 million Nigerian internet users as of 2017. This is an increase of nearly 50 percent from the 2013 figure of 51.8 million.

There are millions of Nigerians who are interested in involving themselves in Information Communications and Technology Services (ICTS).

This new economy does not require someone to be in a specific location to provide the service needed, rather they can be located anywhere in the world.

 

An organization that has seen the potential in Nigeria is US-based software trainer – Andela. The company offers learning programmes for young adults who are wanting to become computer programmers.

Nigeria is one of the fastest growing internet users in the world Click To Tweet

The learning programme is a 2-year practical course where the learner interacts with companies around the world and assists them in building programmes, websites, and mobile applications.

After the conclusion of the programme, the learner is able to provide remote programming support to companies that they have built a relationship with.

By tapping into the underdeveloped skills of the Nigerian youth, there are countless opportunities for new economy companies to develop technology leaders of the future in Nigeria and in the rest of Africa.

The Nigerian government has set up incentives to help modernize and mechanize their agricultural industry Click To Tweet

 

AGRICULTURE

Nearly one-third of all employed Nigerians find themselves working in the agricultural sector, which is one of the country’s main foreign exchange earners.

The Nigerian government has set up incentives to help modernize and mechanize their agricultural industry. Not only will locally grown foodstuffs be promoted on behalf of the investor, business and enabling companies may receive the pioneer company status and qualify for tax incentives.

Subsidies on fertilizer and zero import duties on raw materials needed to manufacture livestock feed are some of the other incentives to attract investors to this sector.

Another is the release of grants from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council for research and development that leads to the greater domestic use of Nigeria’s raw materials.

 

PRIVATE EDUCATION

The need for skilled tradespersons, computer programmers, and agricultural workers will only increase in demand as Nigeria transforms its economy and becomes an international economic power.

At present, there is an opportunity for private education to offer specific programmes that are in demand in the country. Nigeria is a country with vast underemployment and by offering distance learning or night schools, there is potential for strong investment returns in for-profit education.

As an example, one can look at the success of Curro in South Africa, which began as a private for-profit primary and secondary schools but now even has a post-secondary offering. If a Nigerian model were created that focused on skills development, the potential returns could be very lucrative.

Nigeria is in the fortunate position to offer investment opportunities to both local and international persons and companies. The need to develop the Nigerian economy offers lucrative potential returns for those looking to invest in the above sectors, including manufacturing and private education.

These areas are in some ways interconnected, and by increasing the investment and development in one area, there is tremendous potential for spillover into the other, sectors.

 

 

Jobs – Marketing Associate

She Leads Africa believes in the power of young African women to build amazing careers and businesses, serve as community leaders and influencers, and eventually take over the world.

Our #MotherlandMoguls, as we affectionately call them, are the reason we exist and expanding – to provide them with more inspiring and educational content to help them live their best lives.

We’re looking for a marketing guru who’d like to join us in building She Leads Africa into the number one destination for smart and ambitious African women.

This role is only open in Lagos, Nigeria and Cape Town, South Africa only.

Role Description: The Marketing Associate (Events) will manage the marketing functions for She Leads Africa events and training programs.

Reporting Structure: The Marketing Associate (Events) will report to the Head of Marketing. They will also be responsible for managing a team of 2-3 fellows and additional staff related to large events or campaigns.

Responsibilities:

  • Serve as the lead content creator for promotion and publicity of events and training programs
  • Establish and deliver leads and sales goals on a weekly and monthly basis
  • Manage marketing and public relations strategies including media partnerships, influencers, and advertising for events
  • Maintain a marketing calendar with a structured plan of marketing campaigns for each quarter
  • Create “always on” campaigns to consistently market and build the SLA brand in target cities in advance of upcoming events
  • Liaise with the content team to schedule marketing content
  • Utilize data and analytics to drive decision making and advise content decisions
  • Develop a deep understanding of our audience and how best to communicate with them

Requirements:

The ideal candidates will have an interest in building, growing and scaling communities. You don’t have to have official work experience doing this kind of work but we want someone who is passionate about digital content and can learn quickly.

If this role is for you, you’ll be excited to work in a fast paced environment and committed to working until the job is done.

Specific requirements include:

  • Intellectual curiosity and an interest in learning new skills
  • Excellent English writing skills and the ability to adopt and change your style of writing
  • Experience in building and growing communities across markets using a variety of content, marketing and partnership strategies
  • Knowledge of digital marketing strategies
  • Social media savvy and being up to date on current trends
  • Able to deliver on metrics-driven results and an understanding of analytics
  • Graphic design and video editing skills are a major plus

Benefits:

  • Entry level salary with bonus
  • Opportunity to travel across Africa and interact with Africa’s leading voices and entrepreneurs
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Work with a moderately fun team who prefer sweatpants over stilettos

Submit your application here:

You can also click this link to go to the direct application page.

Unfortunately due to the number of applications we receive, we will not be able to contact everyone who applies. We will not be able to answer additional questions via email.

 

Samantha Chovuchovu: Logistics is not just a man’s career

Samantha Chovuchovu
Samantha Chovuchovu shares her experiences as woman dominating in the logistics sector Click To Tweet

Addressing the stereotype that the logistics or transport industry is a career option for a very specific gender is a challenge. The most common managerial positions undertaken by women are in secretarial, communications and human resources.  What’s worse is that the industry’s positioning in the manufacturing sector unfortunately, means that very few women are employed in or run businesses.

It’s been for ages considered a male-dominated field, but women have developed a significant presence in the industry workforce. From railways to roads, urban transport to civil aviation and as seafarers and dockers, women are working as drivers, conductors, pilots, mechanics and officers, as well as in administrative roles.

Samantha Chovuchovu, started her own logistics company and here she shares her experiences as woman dominating in the sector.


Why did you choose logistics?

Logistics is an industry that continues to grow, be it on the local, national or global scale. It links me to different people. I saw this as an opportunity to grow my network and get exposure to people in different businesses, which made good business sense.

Funny enough, growing up I always wanted to do law (which I’m still studying by the way) but I had a vision to run my own business one day.

What does one require for such a start-up?

First things first, a business plan and the ability to identify your target market.

Then obviously, capital to get up and running. Once capital is established you need to source reliable suppliers and manpower.

Samantha Chovuchovu: Logistics continues to grow, be it on the local, national or global scale Click To Tweet

What common challenges come with this business?

Running a logistics company can be very demanding, yet it offers a rewarding work environment. Suppliers can be unreliable and the main issue is that the business has a lot of risk factors involved.

To be prepared for this one needs to be insured to cover any accidents.

How do you handle competition from the male competitors?

Competitors are everywhere. Being a woman in logistics has never been an issue to me. What’s more important is the role that I have to play and making sure the job gets done.

I am aware of competitors out there but I consider them more of an encouragement than a challenge to me.

Samantha Chovuchovu: Running a logistics company can be very demanding, yet it is rewarding Click To Tweet

Going forward, what are your career prospects?

There are a lot of opportunities in logistics apart from just transporting goods. Operations, purchasing warehousing material handling and inventory control all fall under the umbrella.

I would love to seize and take advantage of all these.

Any recommendations or advice to young women considering logistics business?

I recommend that young women should seriously consider a career in logistics. As globalization moves forward, manufacturing and consumer behaviour will be influenced more and more by global and local markets.

Hence, there’s a growing need for logistics services in the supply chain. It is not easy, but one just needs to be very diligent and it will surely pay off.

Would you be in a position to mentor other women and/or offer internships to help them get ahead?

Sure, I am. Mail me visit our webpage or contact me via email.


Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

 

Nomfanelo Magwentshu: How to shape #MotherlandMoguls into leaders #SheHiveJoburg

nomfanelo magwentshu shehive joburg she leads africa
To be a leader, take a leap of faith, follow your dreams and add value to other people's lives Click To Tweet

Nomfanelo Magwentshu is a partner at McKinsey and was the lead organiser for the SA Fifa World Cup. She was previously the GM for South Africa’s national carrier, South African Airways. Nomfanelo provided some tips on how to be leaders at #SheHiveJoburg. She also opened up about her upbringing and her reasons for leaving certain roles in her career that did not fulfil her.

With that said, one saying we took from Nomfanelo and her journey and that can resonate with Motherland Moguls is this, Take a leap of faith and follow your dreams and add value to other people’s lives even in the smallest ways.

Nomfanelo shared what has shaped the leader that she is today:

Show up and take risks

Always show up and take risks when you are given opportunities in your career or in business. Show up and be counted.

People must know you, and acknowledge you. Ensure that you’re not just a number to an organisation, you need to make sure you leave your mark.

Nomfanelo Magwentshu advises leaders to find sponsors and mentors that will challenge them Click To Tweet
Find sponsors and mentors

According to Nomfanelo, find sponsors and mentors that will challenge you. Someone that will challenge some of  your deepest issues and fears. One of her deepest fears is the fear of failure, especially the fear of not being good enough in a new environment.

She pointed out that mentors will not make the decisions for you. It’s important to make yourself accountable for everyday decision, even if you have a mentor to help you navigate through your life.

#MotherlandMogul tip: Find people to coach you —different people who can coach you on different aspects of your life and find those people that will challenge to get the best out of you.

nomfanelo-magnwentshuThink about the bigger picture

When Nomfanelo joined the SA Fifa World Cup organising committee, it was not about being the best in football.

She shied away from the media but her biggest goal was to think of the bigger picture, and that was to ensure that South Africa delivers the best World Cup.

Always listen to your head and your heart to become the leader you've always wanted to be Click To Tweet
Listen, follow your head but don’t neglect your heart

At times where she lasted 5 months in an organisation, in her head Nomfanelo knew this MIGHT be the right place for her but her heart told her otherwise.

Ensure that you listen to both to make the right decisions for yourself.

Failure is a step towards success

You need to learn from your failures as they are a step to your next success. When you go to your next step, learn from your failures and you are guaranteed to be successful. If you make another mistake, always get up and keep moving.

#MotherlandMogul tip: Ensure that you reflect and you learn from the failures and make sure that you do not repeat them.

Kalinè: You don’t need the ideal situation before you do something with your talent

Kaline Official - 1

Singer, pianist, composer and producer – Kalinè is an artist of many talents. The Berklee College of Music graduate inspires her fans through her genuine and unique lyrical style while navigating the Nigerian musical industry as an independent artist. After getting her start in the industry ten years ago, she has remained a self-managed artist who believes that the beauty of not being on a label or represented has given her the power to make decisions about her musical career—what she wants to do and how she wants to do it—all of which have molded her as the artist that she is today.

She Leads Africa spoke with Kalinè about her journey as an artist and entrepreneur and why honesty is her favorite form of inspiration.


You published a piece on your blog Self-Managed- 9 Reasons why you should be your biggest cheerleader. Why did you decide to self-manage as opposed to hiring someone to do it for you?

The ideal situation would be to have a support system in a formal way, or to have a team. However, I got to a point where I was looking for people, as opposed to being found. It is a lot better to be found by a manager as opposed to looking for one or paying for one. This is because they are coming on board knowing exactly what you want to do and they have a passion for what you are doing.

I’ve learned to be discerning about who I want on my team as well. I have come into my own, and embraced the challenge that a self managed artist has and I try to use that to encourage others by saying, you don’t have to have the ideal situation before you do something with your career or talent. That is how the self-mantra was formed; by embracing it and seeing the beauty in it—until the right person approaches me.

We all know that building a brand is filled with everyday challenges, some big and some small and aggravating. What’s your favorite challenge that you have tackled and what did you learn from this experience?

Patience is the biggest thing for me. In this industry it used to be so difficult for me to see other people making a success of their talents and passions. I’ve learned that patience is the most important thing.

Everyone has their own journey, their own timelines and trajectories. There is no use being anxious or worried about what is going to happen. I strongly believe that I will get to where I want to go. I must be patient about with the recourses I do have.

Since you self-manage, this must also mean that you manage your own social media sites? If so, how have you built an online community around your brand? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs around building passionate fans and active online communities?

Be true to yourself. Be authentic and genuine, whether on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Soundcloud. I try to give valuable advice or useful and relevant information to my followers and supporters, while constantly remembering to be myself as I do so.

It is also good to have goals for each platform. Your Instagram followers are very different from your Facebook followers, likewise your LinkedIn followers. Figure out, what exactly do followers want to gain from the different platforms? It is a learning process, and a trial and error.

From your social media pages, I can see that you’re inspiring your followers in everything that you do—whether it’s singing or blogging. How do other activities that you partake in, inspire your work?

Photography, reading, social messages, conversations, and social issues inspire my blogging and songwriting. At Berklee School of Music I studied film and music scoring.

I’ve written music for commercials, and teach piano to little kids. Being an artist is a full time job. Everyday there is something to do—from social media, to practicing for a show, to styling, and to rehearsing.

What female artists do you gain inspiration and or empowerment from?

Adele, her honesty inspires me. Lianne Lahava, Laura Mvula—to name a few—teach me to stay true to myself and to write from an honest place.

How do you define yourself and your music, in terms of today’s climate?

If you come to one of my shows, you will hear reggae, highlife, pop, R&B and classical elements. The common thread that runs through all of my songs are honesty and elements of truth and authenticity through my repertoire. I am influenced by too many things to really put myself in the box.

I think that is where the world is headed—no longer really saying. Everyone is going into various genres; as the Internet and social media become more accessible around the world, we are all going to make music that we love and we know we will communicate to our followers and our fans.

What tips do you have on negotiating how much you get paid, how do you determine doing a free show or not?

It all depends on the type of gig, and how many minutes they want you to perform; how many songs they want and the number of instruments needed. All are determining factors and more—styling, makeup, and hair—help me to determine how much to charge.

However, creativity is relative. Some people have a budget. When you get to a point where you are trying to negotiate then other things come in, such as whether it is for a good cause or if it will be really good exposure for you or performing in front of an audience that you do not get to perform in front to often; or even someone saying, I will cover your costs but not pay your labor fees.

There’s also the situation where you have the opportunity to leverage off the people who ask you to perform—if they can open some doors for you, or introduce you to certain people and not pay you as much as you would like, that is a good reason to do a free or low fee gig.

How do you determine a good opportunity?

A good opportunity is one that won’t ever come around again and that you can be proud of. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For example, when I performed the national anthem at the President of Nigeria’s first official visit to America in Washington, D.C. An opportunity like that may not ever come around again. Another example is of the time that I opened up for Chaka Khan and Angelique Kidjo; it was something I knew I had to do.

Kaline Official - 2A good opportunity can also be for charity, a good cause, to leverage off some contacts, to experiment, or even to rehearse. Open Mic Night, no one pays you for that, but that is in itself a gig; use it as an opportunity to try out a new song or play in front of an audience that you’ve never played in front of.

What do you see yourself achieving as a musician and as a representation of African women, whether in the near future or the far future? What advice would you have for women trying to navigate the industry?

There is so much importance in understanding that we all need to be true to ourselves in order to reach our fullest potential. Patience is key for achieving your goals. Patience does not mean sitting around and waiting for something to happen. It means going out and doing what you can with the resources—limited or not—and pushing ahead with clear goals.

I want to be well represented and seen as someone who stuck to this idea of authenticity and genuity. I want to encourage people to do the same; to be as unique as possible.

9 reasons you should (seriously) consider an internship

Internship

I started giving proper thought to my career during my second year at university. The buzz towards the end of that period was crazy, and getting an internship was all everyone seemed to talk about. The energy was amazing; everybody wanted to get into big firms, especially the investment banks. I would be having lunch, walking along the corridors, working in the computer labs and it was the same – Goldman Sachs this, JP Morgan that, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas…my head almost exploded at a point because that’s all I would hear about.

I wasn’t particularly bothered about getting an internship because I had gained a considerable amount of part-time work experience up until that time, and I had a very well paying summer job coming up at Edexcel (now Pearson UK). I had really enjoyed doing the job the previous summer because of the large number of Nigerian students working there. It was serious fun and there must have been at least 100 of us young Nigerians working there at some point.

Anyway, a great friend and classmate of mine, Chitra, asked me if I had applied to any of the investment banks. I said, “Nope, Edexcel pays very well and I enjoy the work.” She must have thought I was crazy, because she gave me an, ‘Are you ok? Can’t you see what your mates are doing?’ look.

She managed to convince me to put in at least ONE application. I procrastinated for a few days before deciding to check the websites. Lo and behold, I was too late – I had missed all the application deadlines (or so I thought).

I didn’t even feel bad, thinking ‘it wasn’t meant to be’. It must have been a few days later when she asked, “Did you check the Credit Suisse website?” I was like “Errr”…Anyway she told me it was still open and that the deadline was that day. I was like “Today? How am I supposed to get it done in a few hours?” Long story short, I dropped everything else, put in my application and forgot about it. I was convinced they wouldn’t call me because of how I rushed to get it done.

Imagine my surprise when I got called for a telephone interview – I couldn’t believe it. I passed the phone interview, and was invited to attend a 9-hour assessment centre (story for another day). I somehow managed to make it through that successfully, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was an A M A Z I N G experience. I got to meet and learn from so many brilliant people and was especially fortunate to have a great boss who helped me gain clarity with regards to a decision I had been struggling with for a while, like whether or not to do a master’s degree – I ended up not doing it).

Best of all, though, was the lunch. They had ALL sorts in there, Italian, Indian, Chinese – you name it. Even the dessert was nice. I always looked forward to lunch because of the many different options.

Anyway, let me get down to the real reason I wrote this post. What competitive advantage did my 3 months at Credit Suisse give me? Why should YOU intern?

Internships are one of the best ways to get your foot in the door in terms of getting a full time role. Work hard while you’re there, and there’s a good chance you’ll be asked back. I was made a full time offer for a graduate position immediately after my internship and this meant I didn’t have to worry about applying for jobs in my final year.

Upgrade your CV

Even if you’re not made an offer where you interned, the experience will seriously boost your CV and increase your chances of getting a job elsewhere.

Test drive a career path you’re interested in

I was bent on getting into the telecoms industry after graduation because I enjoyed all the telecoms modules I took as an undergrad. I’m glad I got a chance to intern because my experience at Credit Suisse was a key turning point in terms of helping me discover what I really enjoy doing. (I eventually did my NYSC at a telecoms company and I absolutely hated it).

Develop key transferable skills

An internship is a great opportunity to hone your existing skills and develop new ones, which employers are always looking out for when recruiting.

Learn the importance of work ethic

The workplace is very different from the school environment and the best way to learn work etiquette is in a real life work environment.

Build your network

You get to meet new people and build relationships you can leverage. ALL the jobs I’ve had since NYSC (and I mean ALL 5 jobs since 2009) have been through the network I’ve built over time.

Get professional training

I was ‘trained professionally’ for the first time during my internship. It was the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) training and must have been worth around $150 at the time. Not only did I get it free, I learnt some concepts that I still use today.

Earn a salary

While some internships are unpaid, mine was very well paid and I remember thinking ‘WOW’. It gave me an idea of what I could possibly earn as a full time graduate trainee. Besides, who (especially as a student) doesn’t like some extra cash? 😀

Boost your confidence

The experience seriously boosted my confidence because I had to hit the ground running in terms of the tasks I was assigned. I also had to learn and apply new concepts very quickly in a ‘real-life’ setting. This made me feel like I could achieve anything I set my mind to.

So, what’s holding you back from an internship? I hear many young job seekers complaining about the lack of opportunities in terms of jobs out there and while this is true, there are many ways you can help yourself get a few steps ahead and an internship is one of them.

There’s an absolutely amazing website called Stutern (by Jobberman) that you can use to find out about and apply for internships in Nigeria – I seriously suggest you check it out and apply for any opportunities that interest you.

Becoming a leader from the inside out

The Growing Ambitions CoFounders_Lusungu Kalanga, Chikondi Chabvuta & Umba Zalira

Irene Umba Zalira is a women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health advocate. In this piece, she shares the impact of Global Health Corps on her views on leadership and how she engages with her work. 

Global Health Corps is a leadership development organization that places young leaders under 30 from all backgrounds in year-long paid positions. Applications for the 160+ positions for the 2016-2017 class are due February 2nd, 2016. You can apply here


Is leadership something you’ve always desired?

I never wanted to be a leader, never saw myself as one. I took on small roles throughout my primary and secondary school life but nothing too serious. At least that is what I thought. I didn’t know these small roles were preparing me for bigger leadership roles that I would take on later in life.

Last year, I spent a year serving as a Global Health Corps fellow at the Ministry of Health in Malawi. Prior to being a Global Health Corps fellow, I shied away from leadership positions, aiming for roles with  less responsibility.

From your experience, do you think leadership skills can be taught? Or is it simply an innate skill?

People who know me now would never believe I once shied away from leadership roles. I truly believe my Global Health Corps experience molded me into the leader I am today. None of the leadership workshops and trainings I ever attended mentioned the need to work on your self-esteem.

Everyone spoke of leadership as something you did on the outside: how you talk, how you influence people and how you convince people. No one mentioned self-acceptance and confidence are the source of leadership. And because I was struggling on the inside, I couldn’t see myself as a leader.

What has been the greatest inspiration for you?

I remember being at Yale University in a room full of 127 young amazing people who had done extraordinary things in their lives: 127 change makers. There was one specific story that stuck with me.

One of the program participants had lived in Vietnam, and taught kids in the village how to swim because there had been a lot of drowning incidents during the rainy season. It made me think: ‘wow, I don’t even know how to swim!’

Global Health Corps

There were people younger than me who had already started organisations and initiatives in their own communities. That was definitely not me!

But there is something about being in such a space, a safe space with peers, where you can be vulnerable to say: ‘I am scared’. ‘I don’t know how I am going to do this.’ ‘Hell, I don’t even know how I got here!’ But, by the end of those 2 weeks at Yale, I was ready to own the GHC slogan of ‘change maker’.

The sessions with GHC staff and my peers, helped me see myself as a leader. I started working on my fears, passions, abilities, strengths and even weaknesses.

That must have been a huge inspiration for you. What did you then do with all that fire?

I got back to my country and I was ready to serve! I was serving before, but this time around, it was different. I was more than willing to lead initiatives and own the title of a change maker. I was one of the founding members of the Rotaract Club of Lilongwe and served as the Director of Community Services in the first year.

The Rotaract Club of Lilongwe is a service club of young people between the ages of 18-30 from different professional and educational backgrounds. We use our diverse skills and resources to improve the communities we live through the implementation of various projects and programs.

We understand you’ve been involved in different projects. Tell us about them.

Two friends and I started a community initiative in Kauma, a peri urban area on the outskirts of Lilongwe City, Malawi after we noticed teenage pregnancies was prevalent, resulting in high school drop out rates for girls. Initially, the plan was to go through the project a local church in the area had started to address the issue, to talk to the girls and encouragement them, then move on with our lives. But my drive to make an impact didn’t let me be. When you start doing something you are passionate about, you have to see it through.

So 17 months later, we found ourselves as co-founders of an organization called Growing Ambitions. We are currently supporting more than 20 girls with school fees and school materials. We recently enrolled one of our girls, Esther, a 19-year-old mother of a beautiful baby boy, into Stella Maris, a prestigious catholic secondary school.

Our mission is to help girls make informed decisions through mentoring and career guidance. We envision a Malawi where girls, regardless of their socio-economic status or negative experiences, take charge of their lives and thrive.

Growing ambitions

Tell us more about Growing Ambitions

Growing Ambitions primary target group are girls and young women who have dropped out of school due to unplanned pregnancy. We re-enroll them into schools and provide support to ensure they stay in school. We conduct monthly sessions on different topics ranging from sexual reproductive health, human rights, feminism, gender, time management based on the girl’s interests.

So far, the initiative has been self-funded along contributions from well-wishers. But, seeing that we’re growing, there’s going to be need for an alternative source of funding. Currently, we are in the process of getting registered as a non-governmental organization with the Malawian Ministry of Justice, and look forward to serving more girls and young women in Kauma and beyond.

What inspires you to keep the initiative alive?

It’s been a new, and sometimes arduous journey for me, my co-founders and the girls as well. These girls and young women live in communities where their rights are disregarded and they’re treated as second class citizens. But every small step in the right direction ensures more girls complete their education, and knowing that keeps me going.