This write-up is a continuation of the previous post with the same title but II.
In 2012, I was one of the candidates at the Nigerian Airforce recruitment exercise in Lagos. It was a 5-day exercise. It took place in about 12 states in the country concurrently. I do not know the number that came for the exercise in Lagos but I remember we occupied a considerable portion of the football field in Sam Ethnan Airforce Base, Ikeja. Those from my state of origin alone were above 200 (we were assembled state by state). I looked at the crowd and could not help thinking that such crowd would also have gathered in eleven other states. It was a reminder of the large scale of unemployment in the country. We were always in the field exposed to the elements. On one of those days it rained while we were in the field. Later the sun came up and dried us. It was all in a bid to get a job of which we knew that most of us will not get. I was among the most people who did not make it to the next stage. Sitting under the sun on one of the days of the exercise, a group of us started discussing. We came to unemployment and a lady said that she has been searching for a job for more than five years. She remembered years before when her friends were learning and going into a new skill like tailoring. She had felt it was not for her. But she sounded regretful speaking of it and she said that her friends were making success of the skill they learnt. Years later they had their businesses. She felt going into skill acquisition as at the time she was telling us this was too late for her. She still did not feel motivated enough to think differently and concentrate on what she can control. And so her search for a white-collar job continued probably with a diminishing hope. Neither did her story make me think differently. I also continued my white-collar job search. This was 2012. I graduated from the university in 2010 and ended my National Youth Service Scheme, NYSC, in 2011.
Many graduates have an entitlement mentality. They think just because they have gone through school up to university level they are entitled to a job. Such manner of thinking does not help. In the face of mass unemployment it becomes very questionable. Learning is a continuous process from which we never graduate, therefore learning a new skill to use as a means of income in a country like ours is neither unreasonable nor too late. There is no point condemning the government and doing nothing yourself. You keep doing that and most likely you will be at the same situation if not worse five years from now. You are responsible for your future. Think. There may be an opportunity just below your nose but the desperate search for a white-collar job makes you oblivious to it.
In my university days, I wished for a white-collar job in the banking, telecoms, or oil industry after school. After my Nigerian Youth Service Corps programme, I seriously began my application for a job. Most were done online Monday through Friday. Relative to the number of applications I made, I was called for interview a few times. For a year I was completely jobless. I talked to some people about my need for a job but it did not yield result. The feeling of hopelessness began to creep in at some point. I started submitting my CV to various places open for business while walking. I really wanted something doing. At this stage I did not think of what to do to help myself since the job was not forthcoming. For me it was either I got a job or I got a job. I was completely blind to opportunities and above all lacked vision.
I believe in prayer and I prayed during that period. I also believe God hears prayers. However, when the answer to your prayer comes, it may come in such a way you do not expect. When you pray for patience for instance, does God throw patience at you or does he give you the opportunity to practice patience? When you pray for chastity, are you handed chastity in a box or given the opportunity to grow chaste? When you pray for a job, should you fold your hands and wait till it drops or do you take advantage of the opportunity that the God you pray to has provided, be it for a monthly salary job or for self-employment? Our minds should be open. Ours is to get prepared to take advantage of opportunities which come our way and they surely do. Some say opportunity comes but once. That is false. Opportunities are many and they come more than we think. Those who are prepared recognize it and take advantage of it. Those that watch things happen call it luck; those that make things happen know that the opportunity met preparation. When opportunity meets preparation, exploit happens.
Young men and women should think more of what lies within their control and not just an outcome. When you submit your CV to an organization for a job, in the end it is up to the organization whether to employ you or not. The outcome is largely out of your control. However, you can get in a process that can increase the chances of your expected outcome. Working on your CV to appear outstanding is a process that lies in your control. Aligning your experience and skills to match the job requirement lies in your control. So also is learning a skill or trade you would love to build on and grow. Think more of the process of which you have control.
Passion for something can be a motivator. It can keep you going on till your expected outcome is realized. Going after what you are passionate about is worthwhile. Great men pursued their passion and rose to the peak. Bill Gates was very passionate about computer software and programming and pursued it. He spent days and nights designing and writing computer programs. He was so passionate that he left school. Today we all know him. You should also find your passion and not go after other people’s passion which is what a lot of people do. When you go after your passion, you will keep growing at it even if you are not remunerated. A time will come when people will come after you after you have done good marketing. Self-development is slow and can be painful but it has a high reward. That you are not remunerated today for what you love to do does not mean it is of no worth. Experience and exposure at what you love doing is invaluable. In doing this, you can create your own niche and “package” yourself to shoot yourself up. The “mango” will eventually get ripe for consumption; that is when an exchange for what you offer will take place.
Godwin Nwaokike is the author of Growing Through Life: The Pursuit of Fulfilment. Click the image below to find out more about the book.