Stallone-Obaraemi Samuel: What lies Ahead for the Nigerian Graduate? (Pt 2)
02-11-2015 09:50:00 | by: Andrea Ayemoba | hits: 6817 | Tags:

Lecture delivered on September 3, 2015 at the Julius Berger hall, University Of Lagos on the occasion of the final year seminar of the department of Industrial relations and personnel management, in the faculty of Business Administration.

by Stallone-Obaraemi Samuel


In part 1 of this series, I gave a framework of the journey from basic to university education in Nigeria and the expectations of the typical Nigerian graduate. I also touched a little on the frustration that is trailing the fallen standard of education. Now I am going to talk more on the possible future awaiting the Nigerian graduate and ways he or she could carve a pleasant path.

Career Confusion: Most graduates today leave school without knowing what career path to pursue. The notion is usually “I just want to get a good job, and from there I will find a way”.  Some spend 4 – 10 years trying to figure out what to do with their lives. Some probably spend their entire active lives in the search of meaning. That has become a huge challenge and nobody seems to be paying attention. This is a challenge because the school has consistently failed to prepare “graduates” adequately for that future; the future that will require them to choose their paths and that requires them to figure out what to do with their lives. Painfully, the NYSC program is not different from what exists – in principle – in the  school environment. Except of course some might be fortunate to work in an organised business with people that can, and are willing to mentor and coach them. I am saying the average Nigerian graduate probably spends 2 – 5 years of his or her life trying to figure out their path. Some may spend a lifetime doing that.

At this point let me speak directly to you that are graduating.

“Casualness & Laziness: Some of you are currently lazy, and will become extremely lazy. You will blame the society, the government, your parents, uncles, and aunties, your friends, everyone but you. You will be annoyingly casual about almost everything serious as you focus on mundane pleasure and engage in the dead dream of making it big, without hard work.

Today, I want to make a deliberate effort not to talk about what the government, the schools and institutes, or even the society needs to do to help you. So many people are engaged in doing that. Whether the schools, government etc. change in their ways or not, is not my immediate concern on this platform. Rather my concern is how you can take control of your lives in the face of the daunting challenges we have mentioned which in fact constitute less than a tip of the iceberg when considering the darkness that awaits you out there. The question is; will your light shine bright enough to walk you through the tunnel to the bright side? I have a good news and bad news.

The good news is that we all have the freewill to design our torches. The bad news is, not all of you will design long lasting and bright shining torches. Some of you will pick up an active career in complaining.

Suggested Solutions -

1.       Your certificate is worthless without the requisite skills.

Your certificate is just a sheet of paper. You must endeavour to have clear know-how or skill. I dare say that your four or more years stay in the institution may not have prepared you enough for the toughness of the outside world. You need to gather more skills and gain relevant depth that can help you to be adaptable depending on the situation you meet. For instance, the student that says because he studied Industrial and Personnel Management, all he needs to do is get CIPM certified and work in an HR department, has started failing. Because what happens to selling and presentation skills, what about social media skills, financial management skills, soft skills such as excel skills, effective communication skills?

2.       Finding a job is a job in itself.

After graduating some of you will depend on your parents and uncles plus aunties to find jobs for you through their “connections”. Some of you will ask that they “help” you by getting you jobs you are not objectively qualified to have, even at the detriment of other more qualified candidates who may not have their people placed in strategic positions. It’s a shame when you do that. Always remember that. Get up and look for jobs yourself! Jobs you truly deserve.  Rather than  do Facebook, twitter, whatsapp, etc., which are not bad in themselves, I enjoin you to attend job fairs and seminars, use the internet for effective job search, gather useful information about companies, thought leaders, and various industries. If you chance upon some money, instead of buying aso-ebi, please invest in nice suits and clothing that you can wear to attend interviews and meetings. You must see your job search as a job in itself. I will encourage you to the book Getting a Job is a Job: A No-Nonsense Practical Guide to getting your desired Job by Aruosa Osemwegie and make sure you squeeze value out of it. Listen! I do agree with the opinion that you need a laptop at this stage, more than you need an outrageously expensive smart phone. You need to learn how to effectively use MS office, carry out basic ICT operations. Possibly form groups or make friends that you can do pre-job mock interviews and tests together.

3.       Keeping a Job is Another Job in Itself

When you get a job, if you get one eventually, for some of you who have long discarded the tradition of burning the midnight candle, this is going to be a war. However, I encourage you to be determined in waging this war that looms. Be led by the excitement and the demands of the job ahead of you, rather than the clock. There are no short-cuts to excellence. It requires time, creativity, effort and persistence.  According to Aruosa Osemwagie in his article, “The 2nd Biggest problem in Nigeria, part 2” which I will encourage you to read on page 30 of the August 25, 2015 issue of THE GUARDIAN, it’s not so simple to succeed. No one was born a CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years.” And it’s not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that is demanding and painful. He further referred to a research conducted by Fortune magazine many years back captured in an article titled, “What it takes to be Great?” The article revealed that a lack of natural talent should not necessarily stop anyone from succeeding.  The secret to success has to do with painful, demanding practice and hard work. If you cannot work under pressure, multitask, with little or no supervision, please do not include same in your CVs.

To be continued… 

Stallone-Obaraemi Samuel is Senior Human Resources Manager with TNS Global. Follow him