OYO101: Expectations Vs Reality— How To Navigate Life After School | Muftau Gbadegesin


    Earlier this week, I was invited to walk finalists of the faculty of Communication and Information sciences students, at the University of Ilorin through the unpredictable journey of life after school. Alongside other speakers, we shared our respective experiences and perspectives about life after school. We noted that most students often have high expectations for life after school and we agreed such high expectations are legit but may not be utterly realistic. For instance, most expectations after school are usually about landing a dream job, making a comfortable salary, and enjoying newfound freedom and independence. However, the reality of life after school can be quite different from these expectations.


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    A Taste Of Real, Absolute Freedom

    For the first time in life, most graduates will have a taste of freedom. An unrestricted freedom that will restraint parents and guardians from bossing around you. Consequently, if you’re curious about whether adulthood is a scam or not, life after school and indeed post-NYSC reality will show. For those that are yet to work before, the NYSC allowance will be their first legitimate money after pocket money. Freedom in this instance means living far distance from your parents apart from your time in school: renting an apartment and deciding how you want to spend your time and money. In a way, you will no longer be under the tyranny of your lecturers and NYSC officials. No more exams at least for the time being. And for the one year of service, you might actually try and taste what life looks like in paradise. At the program, I was asked to shed light on life after the compulsory NYSC with options such as Further education, entrepreneurship, or Employment.

    Entering the most unpredictable and uncertain phase of life

    First off, I want to add two more: learning high-income skills and preparing for JAPA. Each of these options I must say is subjective. But before you start, always start with WHY! Fredrick Nietzsche once remarked that “He who has a way to live can always bear any how”. What this implies is that regardless of your choice, always endeavor to have solid and concrete reasons so that when things get tough, you will have enough to fight on.

    Advanced Degree?

    Sometimes, going for a master’s might be the best decision you will make after service. If that’s the case, the most important thing to do is to go for it. Let me give an instance. Graduates of Library Information Science are employed as library assistants in the library settings. They will only be addressed as librarians after they presented advanced degrees. In this way, for those who are considering a career in librarianship, going for masters after service might be the best decision in addition to pursuing career in the academic. For others, this might not be applicable. Overall, continuous learning in terms of bagging more degrees is not for everyone at least when you are fresh from service. But there’s another side to this: understanding the demands of the market. When you rush down for master after service, you miss out on the various opportunities that may be open only to those who are on the field. As you may know, there is a clear difference between theory and practice.

    Most of what you did in class is theoretical, but life after service will teach you the application of what you’ve acquired. In today’s Nigeria, advanced degrees are nothing more than an escape route from the harsh reality of unemployment. Temporarily, an advanced degree provides you with a safe space, shields you from the pains of the labor market, and ensures you delay the excruciating reality of joblessness at least for some time. Honest and brutal advice: don’t deceive yourself. I started a master’s program last year but had to drop it because of funding on one part and non-alignment with my career objectives. If masters will give a competitive edge in the labor market, then go for it. Here, you can explore foreign opportunities. But don’t forget to process your passport during your service year. It’s important whether you want to Japa or not.

    How about being the next Zuckerberg?

    In its basic definition, entrepreneurs are problem solvers. The popular ITEM7 discovered a problem among students, then he leveraged it. Today, he is into millions. In a way, entrepreneurs are not business people. In business, you are motivated by profits. But in entrepreneurship, your motivation is either helping people or a course. One thing about problem-solving is that, either now or later, you will always be rewarded and compensated. Reflect on how you want to help advance the course of your immediate environment. Rethink the presence and see what problems you can tackle. Solve problems by creating products, rendering services, or launching an idea that will help people live better.

    After my service in October 2020, I accompanied one of my brothers who was into logistics business in Lagos. Twenty days later, I was back home because his job was backbreaking. Thereafter, I started to think of what I could do. Then it dawned on me to start writing a column on issues affecting millions of Oyo state residents. So far, it’s been good because I have been able to amplify the voices of the downtrodden. To name just one gain that has come from following my gut instincts with massive actions. Remember, Mark Zuckerberg saw the need to connect the world, and today, he is making billions of dollars out of it.

    Jobs as traps?

    Employments can be tempting. But to gain tacit knowledge, you need to work in organizations. Not all jobs are bad. Yes, there are bad jobs that will add little or nothing to your career growth. The key is to reality-check your decision through cost and benefit analysis. Most government jobs in particular can be antithetical to your overall career growth and objectives. Jobs that are built on routine exercise can be stultifying and discouraging. I say most jobs are temptations because they offer you the platform to remain the same while paying you peanuts to survive. But only you can decide whether you want to take a job or not in addition to consulting with your mentors and important people in your life. Whether good or bad, the choice will always be yours.

    More Skills, Less Degrees!

    Today, we are in the skilled economy where your degree is of little relevance. The skill economy is a valued economy. The way you will be valued in life is connected to the value you bring to the table of life. In a skilled economy, what matters is what you can offer. Robert Greene in his book, Mastery contended that the future belongs to those who have mastered the ability to practice and learn many different skills.

    Adding that masters are not limited to a narrow specialty, but can adapt and learn new things quickly and efficiently. “This ability to master many skills” as he summed it up “is what sets them apart from others and allows them to achieve greatness”. Check out Data analysis and Data science, Software development and programming, Artificial Intelligence, and machine learning, Digital marketing and social media management, cybersecurity and network administration, financial analysis and accounting, Healthcare management and administration, UI/UX design and web development, projective management and business analysis, etc.

    The Virtues of Waiting

    Life after school will not always turned out as planned. You must be flexible with your approach to life. But whether you like it not, life will teach you the virtue of waiting. Whether you look forward to landing your dream job, or crossing the boarder, you will wait. Yes, there are shortcuts and quick fixes. But know this: all the shortcuts in life will always lead to wrong cuts. Don’t be tempted to join the bandwagon. Don’t allow the pressure of your friends get into your heads. Be inspired by the progress and success of your friends. Work hard and wait.

    Life after school is a journey, not a destination. Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop believing.
    Special thanks to Usman Teslimat, CISSA Vice President for putting up the program and Lateef Sodiq, CISSA President. Thank you.

    OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about issues affecting Oyo state and is published every Saturday. He can be reached via @muftaugbade on X, muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com and 09065176850.

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