Welcome to the world 2015 graduands. It’s a tough world this one. Le job hustle is real. If you are the type that has never struggled with money, interviews, rejections and everything that comes along with it, you can also read on. (Ahem)
The thought of finishing school has been your most beautiful castle in the sky ever since. It started way back, as an ordinary kid in an ordinary primary school. Punishments were administered on unpleasantly cold mornings, just before daybreak. But before that, this kind of talk:
The roots of education are?
They are bitter Madam
But the fruits?
(Top of your voice)… Very sweet Madam, they will be as sweet as mumias sugar (whatever deal this company had with your school, shrugs shoulders)
Good, now let’s weed the garden! Wacha tuchape makosa. Tunanyorosha njia ya kesho. If you did not say ‘Thank you Madam, you have increased the number of fruits..’ they’d redo it all over again, until you got to understand that punishments were the sure way to ensure a fat harvest of sweet fruits after school. But such mornings are long gone now.
You are the next batch of harvesters of the fruits of the hard academic labor you have been putting in for the past (close to) two decades now. You have been living in a world of your own lately. Some spirit of pride crept into your soul the moment you started the final year of the 8-4-4 system. It gave you the illusion that you have refulgent educational qualifications. The same spirit has convinced you that you are the magnetic crème which will only attract jobs with obese paychecks and digits so many that a single glance cannot capture them all. You imagine you will have options from multinationals: and you will be the one rejecting them. The last semester of ‘Uni ‘heightened your imaginations. You have been having these visions that frequently flash your mind on how finishing school will mark the beginning of life on the fast lane. Shopping sprees wherever and whenever, a variety of cars and the mega home to rest your head in the evenings. Soon, join the house of lords who know no budgets… Powerful visions I tell you! You know Brother Walt Disney says that if you can dream it, you can achieve it! AMEN? Expectations might kill you young though, you really need to learn how to manage them child. You have to!
You have heard stories of graduates tarmacking for years and wondered how. For some reason, you have had the false impression that this cohort of job seekers is not for people like you. How do they even fail interviews with the papers? Do they start stammering at the sight of a panel? Do they sweat visibly on their faces and make employers frown with disgust? Do they fidget annoyingly and make interviewers mistake them for traditional dancers? Do they ask which interviewer has marital problems when given the opportunity to ask the panel questions? Or is it because they don’t know how to talk about themselves alluringly, maybe they do not have sweet stories to keep interviewers tuned and leave them yearning for more? But hey, the one thing any person does well is talk about themselves with appeasing credits and merits, in a way that will make them want to meet you again and again…how are you unable to sell yourself? I mean why would a company reject you? You must be the problem! Pause! Lock those small condescending thoughts in there, freeze them. Actually kill them with fire! This life has a way of serving humble pies, and it will even teach you how to swallow a whole one in a single bite without chocking.
The last semester flies. Finals catch you somewhere. You have started your job applications. You have refused to start as an intern, you have a fixed minimum amount that you can charge for your time, and a separate charge for your services. You have selectively chosen the top paying companies in the charts of premium employers. Money seems to matter, in fact, money matters! Your mind is fixated that the salary is what makes one job better than the other. It’s a tough race, everyone across the country is applying for these jobs: competition is pretty stiff. But you are good anyway, excellent by your imaginations! Some chronies have made it a habit to sing to you oh how ‘you are the créme de la créme of the 2015 graduands’, Very sweet lyrics to the ears. In the midst of the applications and aptitudes and first interviews, you finish school. It happens so fast, much faster than you expected. You have not thought of your exit plan just yet. You start coming to touch with reality.
Expectations mismatch.Nothing is free out here. If you went back home, it will take you a little while to understand this money affair. In campus, you were accustomed to demanding for money, the uncompromising type that would ask them where they expected you to get money to keep you in school. They worked their *teeth* off to give you a comfortable life, daughters are delicate. Not now, you can’t demand for money anymore, it is a favor. But you need it to move out or keep you going before you get a job. You will embrace scarcity of money temporarily. Soon, you get accustomed to being asked why you are asking for money to go to town and if you must go. Budgets take a new dimension. Buying clothes, going to java for a bite or Coldstone for a scoop, random parties and all those other things which involve unnecessary spending are pushed to the luxury zone. (read as no go zone). You become tolerant to questions on why you are going for so many interviews and aptitudes and you still do not have a job. (as though the recruitment process takes a day, rolls eyes). After an interview, they will follow up. “Mlikuwa wangapi? Sasa unaona chances zako za kupata hiyo job ni? (Yeah yeah,I know! Like what you do in interviews is count how many applicants have come, go round asking them what position they applied for,then pick your geek glasses and start analyzing who looks like they won’t get the job…)
Oh, I hope they are paying? You know we apportion costs in this house! The last bit is almost painful. (si I told you nothing is free out here, you need that job! ). You will start realizing that the job issue is not just your problem; it is starting to become a family concern too. But good thing with family is that you can be sure they have your best interest at heart. They might give you tough love when you want soft love, but they will support you, they will walk you through the transition. You’ve gotta learn how to ignore all the annoying questions and devise a way of answering them without losing your breath though.
Interviews will come and go. Real pain is the first rejection. You will miss sleep. Your saliva will even chock you on that day while struggling to fight the thoughts. (didn’t I tell you to kill them with fire?)Who would have thought you would give your best shot and still be rejected? Ha ha! Whether it comes in the form of failing an aptitude test which basically makes you feel like a mental dwarf, or at the interview stage where it feels like a case of being dumped before the relationship matured, it will break your heart. It will make you want to go back and ask for the files and see where you went wrong. It’s even worse if it is a company you had feelings for, some of these companies you don’t mind marrying. You had even imagined how your hubby would one day ask if you were married to your job, and then you’d say something like “No darling, it is the company I am in love with. Buuuut not like the way I love you, c’mon, don’ be jealous now honey….”
Any-who, something went wrong somewhere and such marital battles of love might just never happen. You can’t even admit your love for this company publicly anymore. You will find all the reasons why it was not even worth the try in the first place, the unfriendly gate-men, the morning traffic ( like there is a place in this Kenya today without traffic,sigh)…and…blablabla. Get over it graduand, and move on. More regrets might come. Get serious, Who am I kidding here? The ‘might come’ bit is a joke; More regrets WILL come! You will need to revise your mindset and adjust your expectations.
Truth is,there is no particular selection criterion in the job hunting phase. Eventually, you will all get jobs, but at different times. To some, now: to others, later. Some will be spoilt for offers, some will get only one at the first instance, and some will have a series of rejections before that job comes. You will realize that what you thought was a cohort of ‘poor interviewees’ is no cohort at all; anyone can fall in that set. And it is humbles you in mysterious ways, it really does. But remember to pull yourself together soonest possible, and keep trying. Because stopping the search to save yourself disappointments is like stopping the clock so that you can save time
As times goes by, you will learn that not every interview means a job. You will stop telling people of interviews because you have chosen to do the hard work in silence and let success do the talking ultimately. It will get sickening why they keep asking how interviews went, and where else you are applying and so on and so forth, as though a job is what life is all about. ( That’s just me bitching)…You will start to appreciate that some rejections are meant to pave way for other opportunities.
And there is absolutely nothing shameful about starting small, it doesn’t mean that you are any less. There will come a point in time when you will stop looking at the money behind offer, or the big name behind the company. When you will not look at what the company is bringing to the table but what value your presence will add to them. It will no longer be about the salary or the prestige. Sometimes, it is about the opportunity behind the offer! You wanna learn about your field, put yourself out there. Volunteer if you must, use the networks you have made. Drop those bizarre standards and quit imagining that people start at the top. Small beginnings just never end small! You grab opportunities and grow them. Building the bigger thing from whatever level you start is what matters. I hope that the point will not only come when you are tired of rejections, or when you are almost running crazy because all your friends have jobs. It’s not for anyone else, but for the trust of your ability to be productive, with or without a reward. Do it for yourself, for the experience and for the dare of growing your way up. So while applying to those giant names, keep the small and growing names even closer!