The Millennials' Dilemma : I can’t get a job because I do not have experience! I have no experience because I can’t find a job!

It is the cry of many students and new graduates: I need and want to work, but I can’t because I have no experience! I have no experience because I can’t find a job! While this situation is not uncommon, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating if you’re in the middle of it. Instead of taking the situation lying down, though, you can take action to boost your credentials and get the experience needed even before you finish your studies.

7 Tips to Gain Experience as a Student:

1.     Complete an Internship   

Companies, government offices, and non-profit organisations typically offer internships that will provide job training, professional networking opportunities, and exposure to a particular job and industry in exchange for cheap or free work on the part of the intern. Many internships are advertised on organisation websites, sites that are dedicated just to internships, and you may even be able to post your own ad to find an internship. If there is a particular department or organisation you want to learn more about, consider writing a proposal for the creation of an internship just for you. Outline ways you can help the organisation and why you're interested in working there.

2.     Look for Co-op Experiences

Co-op, short for Cooperative Education, is a bit different than internships. You typically work with a company or organisation for pay for a period of time and then alternate your time between work and classes. You may go to class for a semester and then work for a semester, for example. These types of programs are often partnerships between colleges and organisations that want to hire students who are interested in a particular industry.

3.     Volunteer for Experience

Non-profit organisations, schools, government offices, and much more types of organisations want volunteers. Volunteers do everything from unskilled work to highly technical work. You might do everything from helping a teacher at a school by reading with students to assisting a non-profit with legal issues as a member of a volunteer legal committee if you have the right educational credentials. Regardless of what kind of volunteer work you do, you will learn important job skills that you can put on your resume. Volunteering demonstrates that you are a person with drive who takes the initiative to gain the employment skills you need and that you're someone passionate about a particular line of work.

4.     Find Temporary Work

If you can't find a permanent job, consider looking for temporary work. Many job applications have an option for you work on a temporary, part-time or full-time basis. For instance, you can contact an agency that hires individuals on a temporary basis in the industry in which you want to work. Check job boards for temporary work, too. Working short periods of time with different employers means that you can pay your bills while building your experience and gaining exposure to that particular company. Additionally, you can develop job-specific skills and contacts in a number of organisations that can lead to a more permanent position.

5.     Become Active on Social Media

Facebook featured a survey showing that 2.5 million Kenyans spend more than six and half hours per day on its site. Why not join groups dedicated to professional growth on Facebook and develop a network of contacts who can help you with getting an internship, temporary job, or perhaps a volunteer position? Also, spend time on LinkedIn to develop your professional network. Join groups dedicated to your intended line of work to further develop your network. Read all you can about your industry, and engage in meaningful interaction with members of your professional groups.

6.     Consider Freelancing

Join a freelancing site to share your talents digitally. People do everything from tutoring people in rare and popular languages to doing voice-overs online. You can develop your skills by starting your own business. You’ll likely make mistakes along the way, but you will learn from them, just as you would in a traditional job. If you decide you want to turn your side-gig into a full-time job, you can avoid the typical 9-5. On the other hand, you can also take the experience you gained and show an employer that you are an enterprising individual who is determined to gain the experience needed to do a job well.

7.     Take Advantage of Extracurricular Activities

Think of all your after-school activities. Were you a member of a sports team or a school committee? What kinds of skills did you develop? Were you a leader in a student organisation? Did you supervise a team of students doing some kind of work? You developed job skills in your extracurricular activities, and you gained some experience. Put that time after school to work by putting it on your resume.

8.     Network

Finally, contact your professors and youth club leaders, leaders in your place of worship, friends of your parents, former teachers, and other people who are familiar with your ability to work hard and with your desire to learn. These people can attest to your willingness to master new challenges and to do well in a job.




Is the next president your path to success? Think again

As we fast approach the elections on the 8th of August, 2017, the high unemployment problem facing the millennials or the youth in Kenya is top of many aspirants’ manifestos. Important to note, the high unemployment rate in Kenya has been so for the last 20 years. Many observers say it looms as a crisis for the nation given the rise in population of over 1 million births each year.

It is certain that the Government we elect into power come August 8th will shape the labour market, and thus can either speed up closing this gap or worsen the situation. However, research shows that despite previous Government promises and numerous policy interventions, the Kenyan economy is still not expanding fast enough to absorb all the young millennials entering the job market. What that means is that unemployment, to some degree, will persist for the foreseeable future.

For many of us born in the 80’s, we grew up seeing the Government blamed for every undoing in the society. If a man battered his wife, the Government would be blamed for the stressed man unemployment situation. The Government is often criticised all around and hardly do we hear people commend a Government for progress or opportunities created. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there is a lot that the Government can do to improve the job market in Kenya. However, I also believe that the change can only begin from within. The power to transform our situation will begin from the decision to take responsibility for the outcome of our lives.

Take another example of the poor drainage in the cities which often block when there is rain. Truth is, the county Government has its part to play enforcing the law against individuals that litter, however, the responsibility lies with individuals who make a decision to either litter or use the proper channels of disposal.

Understand that even with the greatest President nothing much will change in your life if you do not do put in progressive change within your small circle. What I mean is President X will not knock on your door and give you a job offer, he will not call you randomly for an employment opportunity in company X. That is your job! As for him, he applied for a job as the President of Kenya, and he got the job. He is doing the best he can with the knowledge and wisdom he has, to lead the country the best way he knows how to, and on top of that, he is providing for his family and that is where it ends.

For argument's sake, what if he actually knocked on your door, and gave you a job offer, will your developed skills be a good fit for the job? Will your people skills outshine the other candidates? Will your preparedness for the job market make you the most suitable candidate? And why do you believe you are the best?

Here is the lesson, Governments come and go and so does time. Shift focus from without (politicians, parents, friends, rich uncles/aunts) to within. Focus on unleashing the potential within you by deliberate massive action. Work out your success by thinking through on the following:-

  • Where am I?  (Current state of your life)
  • How did I get here? (what habits, decisions have led me here)
  • What is my plan to turn around the situation (Take up study, seek mentors, adopt a disciplined lifestyle)
  • How will I stay the Course? (Write down my own manifesto, get like-minded friends, remain positive in thought and speech)

During the different Government eras in Kenya, we all know that one person who had it worse and they came out shining, we also know that one person who had it all together but lost it all. The heights in your life that you want to achieve are possible, look within and decide to be more.

As J.F. Kennedy challenged his country’s people, I too throw the same challenge to you today: ‘‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’’

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