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Graduates, don't be picky- the best job is the available one

By Ainea Bolingo | December 12th 2021 | 3 min read

I have seen many students graduating at this time of the year and as usual, I tell them; welcome to the real world. All they have been going through is not real; just about six-figure salaries, big office, powerful vehicles, etc. I have written about parents letting their children choose their careers, as it is where hobbies, talent and interest meet. The other thing I would advise guardians is to tell their young ones in black and white that out here it is a different ball game altogether.

It is funny, especially for the new generation, to feel so entitled and wait for that important call from a blue-chip company offering a six-figure salary. For some of us, we took up manual or clerical jobs as we waited to join college. I believe this made us appreciate different levels of employment. The little money that we earned kick-started our saving culture though we were only able to open an account at Post Bank since no big bank could embrace us.

With the advent of social media, I see students posting pictures, calling themselves the new professionals in town. Which is very encouraging but when they return the hired gowns they should know that the best way to start a career is by taking a chance with any available opening. It might not be what you trained for but it is better as you will be able to gain experience instead of just lazing around your parent’s house waiting for the best offer.

If you do that, remember you are advancing in age and soon, another lot of new graduates will hit the market. I remember in our days, for example, people who wanted to join the forces never flaunted their qualifications until they had already been enlisted and completed their training.

Parents, learn to tell your children the truth, as they are now adults. Take, for example, encouraging them to be models when they are in their mid-20s. The reality out there is that it will be very difficult, as most models the world over start at the age of 16 and when they are in their mid-20s they are on their way out. Some get lucky but we are talking about the probability of making it. Same with acting, where I am actively engaged.

I always tell upcoming actors to work hard, do research and first make it here before dreaming of Hollywood. Thousands of graduates and non-graduates of art try to enter the industry and have better chances. Some of us have managed to be in several Hollywood movies because the casting directors are looking for the African look and some of us are lucky to have that look.

Tell young graduates that for one to succeed out here, they must prioritise networking more than qualification.

This is especially so if you didn’t go to groups of schools like some of us. Look, for example, how strongly alumni of St Mary’s connect to one another. One has to do research and find out where people who can help him or her start career usually go.

I will give you an example of what you need to succeed as a new lawyer. You must try to hang around the old lawyers who are industry leaders or their pals so as to try and get a chance to work in their firms. Once inside, be loyal as a pet and believe me a good one will give you a referral or two when you decide to go on your own. If you want to act, go where actors congregate such as the Kenya National Theatre or movie launches where you get a chance of meeting with different producers and directors then sell your portfolio. Don’t mind even if it is a small role but you have put one foot inside.

New graduates start early. Don’t be misguided that you have to do what you trained or studied for. Learn how to network and be loyal. Remember being patient, sacrificing, being disciplined and working hard are the key to a bright future. When you are through with taking graduation photos and have retired the gowns, know you have been thrust into the real world.


[email protected]; @AineaOjiambo

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