Graduation could be one of the happiest days of a person’s life or the most frustrating. When those years of study come to an end, that’s when the real work begins. Some graduates hit the ground running, looking for work using a popular strategy known as tarmarking. Others rely on influential relatives to get them jobs. There is also a third group of people that sends a hundred e-mails to a hundred different organisations, waiting for one to reply with a job offer. This group may spend the rest of their time whining about the hardships of life on the Internet as they wait for something good to happen.
Based on the arguments of graduates who have been in the field for several years, below are 5 lessons you may need to learn:
1. Keep Your Friends Close, but only the Ones you Need
You won’t get a job without a network of prominent friends and if you do, it might not be a good one. “Knowing people really counts and it’s almost a guarantee to get things done,” says Moses Kiage from Mzoori. His network got him the job he has now along with several other jobs he has had before. You also need to be careful about the company you keep. “In the job market,” explains Sales Officer, and former Casino Card Dealer Jasper Kariuki, “good friends are the ones who get you employed.” Bad friends compete for the same position. He once held a post at Joker’s Wild Casino and his Manager later secured him a job at the Babylon Casino.
2. Learn to Crawl Before You can Walk
By the time you graduate, you should have done at least one class project and gotten a bit of experience from an internship program. When you finally get your Diploma or your Degree, working for free feels like you have been cheated. The truth of the mater is, not every employer wants to hire you off the bat. You may have to cope with a probationary period before you get that job. Some employers may even demand a few years of experience before they can hire you.
Irene Adhiambo took a second internship with HR Solutions after graduating from the University of Nairobi. “I asked if I would be paid because the internship was for a Marketing Executive,” she recalls. “It was three months, no pay.” After her stretch, she got a one-year contract, which she expects to renew in 2014. You see what happens when you swallow your pride?
3. Your First Salary Will be Modest
Don’t expect your first pay-slip to have more than 4 zeroes because your academic experience is not worth as much as real world experience. According to PayScale, you may need to lower your expectations because the average salary for a graduate with a degree is KES 29,779 per month (as of August 28th, 2013). Unless you get lucky, your salary will grow only as fast as your circumstances allow it to grow. Don’t expect to make KES 100,000 a month because you majored in Business Administration or Mechanical Engineering. Only those who studied essential fields like Medicine (and got employed in Job Group T) make KES 302,980 a month.
4. Money can buy Happiness
Whoever said money can’t buy happiness did not know what to do with it. Truth be told, a lot of employed people would be happier if someone offered to double their income. According to Henry Kibera from Royal Media Services, you should always follow the money. If you have a stress-free job with a meagre income, a stressful job with a bigger salary is like substituting one advantage for another. Sometimes, you can even get the best of two worlds – a stress-free job with a satisfying salary. Administration Police Officer, Edwin Okoko got both when he was transferred to the Langata Law Courts. He says that he is happier there than he was on patrol in Langata. “Flat-screen haitajinunua,” he muses. “Lazima mwanaume akanyage sakafu.” If the frequent protests by doctors, nurses, teachers and political leaders are anything to go by, money can definitely buy some semblance of happiness.
5. Luxury is Only for the Rich and Famous
If you are still paying rent and have no assets to speak of, you cannot afford to buy a car. Unless it’s a taxi, a tractor or a matatu. Centonomy’s Waceke Nduati argues that a vehicle is not an investment. It is either a sign of prestige or a way to make your commute convenient. “A car does not appreciate in value, does not give you an income and a car definitely is not keeping your money safe,” she asserts. You should spend what money you have building your future. A study on the spending habits of the country’s middle class reveals that some people are buying wrist watches worth KES 24,000 in spite of the fact that they have no control over whether or not their socio-economic status will last forever.
“Who are you trying to impress?” asks Cultural Ambassador, Kasolo Kyango from Pambo Africa Chorus. “Wacha kurubandika.” He says that living beyond your means will only lead to disaster. “It can backfire on you when trying to impress a lady by upping your status. When she finds out [sic] your real status, utaachwa mataani.”