By Segun Ogunlade
The one-year mandatory service for Nigerian university graduates means different thing to different people. For some, it presents the opportunity to create a career path. For others, it presents an opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people. Yet, for some, it is just an opportunity to cool off after three or more years of rigorous academic activities. As a matter of fact, it is the first time some people get to leave their own without their parents watching over them. While some set out to achieve some set goals, some just want to enjoy the one year while it lasts.
If you have little or nothing planned for your service years, here’s five advices that you should consider:
- Training and Proficiency in Basic Computing Skills
As the world is now overwhelmingly digital, some basic skills are needed to keep up with the technological trend. If you have no prior experience with computer and its operation, you should start by training for and gaining proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Your aim should be intermediate or advanced level. However, you will need more than these three to cope in the coming days. Start somewhere. One year is enough for you to learn whatever basic computing skill you need.
- Have a Functional CV
After three to seven years of active academic works, you must have functional CV by now. The CV should be at least a page and a half long. It mustn’t contain only the details of your academic sojourn but also your industrial training experience, internship(s), and all the projects you volunteered for. This would pass you off as a leader who is interested in not just money but also contributing to the society. Many people have the same degree and even graduated from better schools. Something other than the degree you are holding must stand you out.
- Keep an Active LinkedIn Account
Before rounding off your service year, ensure you have a LinkedIn account with an updated profile. LinkedIn is different from Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that is a place for all forms of social activities. LinkedIn is strictly for professionals. Your profile must be enticing to employers or future partners as the case may be. If your profile displays that you don’t have some set of skills, you are already tilting towards the losing side. Getting one or two persons to write recommendations on your profile is a good way to gain visibility on LinkedIn.
- Develop a Strong Network
This is an essential part of personal and professional development. Attend conferences, workshops, seminars etc. on some of the things that interests you whenever you have the chance. The good relationship you create and then maintained would help you in the future either on your professional or personal journey. Ensure the relationship you keep are those that are essential to your goals in life. The strength of your network would determine your success or failure personally and professionally. In this generation, network is key and works best if it’s positively explored for the furtherance of your goals.
- Have a Knack for Presentation, Communication and Project Management
No matter what you studied, you should be good in at least two of these three areas. Paper qualifications is not enough in this generation if perhaps they are the only things you could boast of. Like I said, many people have the same degree as you. Organizations look for what makes you different from the crowd. If you don’t stand out from the rest of the people, you would not get some of the things you want either personally or professionally.
In conclusion, the journey is long. Consider getting a mentor. A mentor would help add clarity to your journey. Above all, gather as many skills as you can now. They would come in handy when you have a thousand others to compete with and something needs to make you stand out.
Adios, hasta luego!
Segun Ogunlade is a serving Corps member at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. He holds a first class degree in Religious Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He could be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.