Their voices rose in a crescendo to a sing-along folk song as each took turn to dance, swing and admire the toddler. The mood was that of exuberance; the parents to the baby embracing the occasion with a subtle jig while the uncle was somewhere lost in the commotion trying to record the events with his smartphone. Like in all Kikuyu ceremonies that serve every food with potatoes in it; the culmination of the ‘baby shower’ would have not excluded the ‘mugithi’ dance to Ruth Wamuyu’s Amukira Ngatho amidst the high-pitched ululations and cheering.
The mother to the child is my sister, am the clueless uncle with a Samsung smartphone, but that’s not all. Two years back, we were celebrating her graduation after she pulled a Hail Mary to get a first class honours in Bio-Technology. The standards this firstborn sister had set for her younger brother to follow had taken roots in my relatives’ expectations of my life. Excellent academic reports, a nice job, good husband (wife to be politically correct) and icing the cake was the new bundle of joy, a child.
“Mbugua ume pata mtu? Look at your sister, she wasn’t blinded by books only,” in suppressed giggles, my aunt implored.
“Am still young, I haven’t thought of settling down yet,” my reply was immediately hushed by another question from my uncle “How is the first class in Economics coming along? December is not far away is it?” Soon there were a battery of them; people reminding me I wasn’t becoming any younger and I needed to keep my affairs in check. One, however, made me reflect.
“Mbugua, you are almost finishing school, what’s your exit plan?” I was spellbound.
Frankly, my last few months in school were planned for on ad-hoc basis; improving my grades, practicing responsible drinking, dating a freshman with daddy issues and joyriding on every academic trip to Mombasa. My exit plan was hazy if not lazy. A humdrum of; looking for an entry job, rent a bedsitter somewhere in Zimmerman and think of having a side hustle.
I couldn’t agree more that the question was very spot on for a person who loathed being average.
Unlike a high school’s exit where students are all excited and optimistic about the future, life after campus is a puzzle, especially in today’s economy. There is a reluctance to let go of the security school offers; a relatively affordable lifestyle, free internet and much sleeping time.
To mitigate on the uncertainties ahead, I met recent graduates and friends who shared lessons learnt during the transition.
1. EQ pays off more than IQ: Emotional intelligence in how you relate with people and handle them. This can get you a promotion or a sacking. Impressive academic reports are no longer a guarantee for competence.
2. You will need to get better at managing finances: HELB and KRA will be hot on your heels upon your first payslip. So will rent, food and transport cost. Therefore learn to live within your means to avoid debts and shortcuts.
3. Learn resilience: This is adapting well in the face of adversity. You will be a victim of rejection, betrayal and duplicity among the people you will interact with. It is important you keep your head high and focus on the positive. Above all things guard your heart jealously.
4. Stay connected with your support system: Keep in touch with people who add value to your life. Family, friends and mentors could offer guidance during this confusing phase and always appreciate them for loving an imperfect you.
5. Always take action: whether it is an offensive or defensive move, it is necessary to leave your comfort zone and try something strange. One needs to set goals and work on them; that’s vision. Of course there will be hits and misses but it is failures that refine men.
6. Learn to be vocal and visible: Pacesetters are not made behind the scenes. They speak confidently on their opinions, offer solutions rather than complain and learn to tap on their unique skills and talents. That is what makes them stand out and pull an audience.
7. Get comfortable doing an entry level job: The pay sucks, so is the long working hours and probably you hold more qualifications than your nagging boss. However, work hard at it and network wisely. It is unlikely you will get that perfect job with a huge pay check immediately after campus.
8. Be of noble character: What you do in the dark can make or break you. Great men have fallen from lack of discipline or spoilt by their excesses. Always remember no matter which position life puts you in, someone will hold you accountable for your actions.
With the above lessons and guideline shared, many will find a basis to formulate and execute their exit plans. Congratulations to the class of 2015
What lessons have you learnt from life after campus? Kindly share with us your experiences in the comments section.