Graduation is the feather in the schooling cap. It is arguably one of the major highlights for most households. That said, there is a time gap between the time one finishes school and the time they graduate.
One minute, you are in class with upkeep from your parents and the government, and the next, you are outside in a faltering economy in a cruel world without papers and the employers other favourite - experience.
There are many things one can do in the time between completion of studies and graduation. We sampled a few actionable ideas.
Wangu Gitonga, B.A Political Science, Moi University: Graduated in 2017.
I did a lot of things in that phase between finishing schooling and graduation.
I started a hustle, built connections, learnt another field different from what I had studied, looked for jobs and tried skills.
During my internship, I had worked in a field that wasn’t really related to what I studies in school. So, after campus, I knew I had to get a job in my line.
However, having studied political science, most government offices were only offering internships. By then, the competition to get into campaign teams had started to pick up.
Therefore, in my frustration, I decided to expand my boundaries. I looked for jobs that needed the skills I had: social media management, events management, writing, customer service.
I joined many job search websites but got no calls. I then got a job with an events company. It was a small company with big clients.
Sadly, the working hours were terrible. One time, I got sick after working for 32 hours and had to be admitted. The boss got mad that I had not shown up to work five hours after the 32-hour shift. I quit and he refused to pay me.
In campus, I spent a lot of time in hospital. This meant that my internship and long holidays were restricted to the house.
To that effect, I had a weak C.V, which proved to be a great disadvantage in Nairobi.
That said, I got a new job as a community builder working ten and a half hours a day and on call over weekends. The job was three hours away in traffic, one way. My health went downhill. I had to quit.
Restricted to the house, I went back to online writing. I also decided to use the time to set up a business. Despite not having capital, I had a plan and hands –on-experience in event planning.
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I got small gigs like planning baby showers, bridal showers and birthdays.
The downside with events is that the capital is huge. I did not have much, my savings were running out and I had been unemployed for almost a year. I decided to look for something that would bring me quicker money as I set up a client base in events.
I graduated in December and last month, and opened an online store-Duara Store.
Gailey Miliza: Graduated in 2016 with a degree in Education - English and Literature from Kabarak University.
I did not have a plan after completing school.
This is because I got out with the belief that in my field (education), there would be no tarmacking. I was sure I would get a job as soon as I stepped into the market. This was not the case. When I left school, reality dawned on me.
Staying at home was not an option. I had to do something and embrace independence.
I first decided to have fun now that there were no books involved. I went out, made new friends and took up travelling as a hobby. Kabarak is strict and I finally had freedom in my hands. After my phase of fun, I came to Nairobi on a quest for greener pastures.
However, life in Nairobi proved to be tough. I almost gave up looking but just when i was about to, I got a teaching job. One cannot be lucky all through. My salary was around Sh10,000 and every time I would bring up the issue of low pay, everyone around me would say: “You don’t have experience. Get it first.”
What I learnt is to never give up. It really humbled me. I am now at a better place. It wasn’t easy at first but there is always a start for everything. I am glad I got to work before graduating and that had a headstart.
Linford Kimathi, BSc Control and Instrumentation, JKuat, graduated in 2017
After completing my exams, I got a calling letter to join Kenya Airways as an intern. I really wanted to do a driving course and the pay at KQ was not that good.
I declined and went home to rest, do the driving course and help my parents with farming.
That was in June. At the same time, I kept sending applications to other companies. By the time I was graduating, I had secured another internship with geothermal Development Company which had a better pay.
Dennis*, Political Science, Moi University, graduated in 2017
The past two-plus years it took me to graduate just flashed by.
There are stories to tell, but the short and long of it is I never cared for the certificate earned. I had the firm belief that getting into college was just a quarter of the way.
That this was the time for me to explore new worlds and set myself up despite what I studied. I, after all, had no say on what I would do in college; The Joint Admissions Board chose political science for me and there was little I could do to change to what I wanted - Economics.
After my last paper I had a flight ticket waiting to be booked to go see the world. I didn’t even finalise my clearance from school, which in hindsight was a huge mistake.
I spent one and a half of the two years in India, eating curry like a proper Telugu and challenging every belief I had about life, God and girls. My first job being in a huge multinational company meant I was interacting with people from about four different cultural backgrounds at the same time so I learnt how to be a cultural chameleon fast.
Being away from home taught me the world has already set the way you should see yourself and the way you should see others and if you ever try to break out of those set unseen boundaries then woe unto you.
That the world will only give you what you ask of it and time is really valuable and should not be spent doing things you hate.
During this time, I backpacked a lot and found happiness in chasing the sun but that dalliance was snuffed not long after. It was time to get back and on the flight back home I was almost crying because I had no plan and I knew everyone would keep asking what my plans for the future were. After a month of strategising and working my networks, I got to work with a great team in a recruitment agency.
Ironically, I haven’t been asked to show my certificate anywhere yet.
Esther Samba, BSc. Commerce, Egerton University: Yet to graduate
After my final exams, I had to move out from my then residence in Nakuru where I had stayed for about three years and go back home in Mombasa.
With time, I got several attachments requests from finance institutions, car dealerships and hotels. I ended up settling for a finance officer position at the Kenya Ports Authority in Mombasa.
I believed it would give me great exposure and numerous opportunities and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I reported to numerous finance offices and all the workers were friendly and willing to teach me all matters finance. It was a great experience as I had anticipated. Three months down the line, however, my attachment came to an end.
I was idle again. I contemplated going back to school but was presented with the chance to continue at the port for two more months.
Luckily for me, my parents took care of all my bills. Occasionally, I would do a few contract jobs to earn cash for my expenses. I also had an online jewellery business that I had started a while back in campus. With all these in place, I constantly made sure to read newspapers daily in order to apply for job. I even registered to several job searching sites to increase my chances of acquiring a job.
I keep the faith despite most jobs requiring one to have a degree certificate. At times, I get frustrated because the graduation day never seems to come. Hopefully, with the graduation tentatively set in June, I will get my certificate soon and get a job.