Put the Work in!Posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 9:57 AM
By Wana Udobang
It is being thrown out flippantly that Nigerian graduates are unemployable, and the reported 75% failure rate of the 2010 NECO exams doesn’t do much to dispel this aspersion. It would be a waste to detail the inadequacies of our government and educational sector because if you aren’t a victim yourself, you have definitely watched the plodding debilitation of the system. With an equally non-existent vocational structure for training, internships and work experience would be the only substitute it seems to equip the average young Nigerian.
Along side this preamble, one cannot go without noticing that an awful lot of Nigerians want to be CEOs. It has become something of a pandemic these days. Not like there is anything wrong with it because even I am one of those infected by the CEO plague. The problem with this though, is that a lot of young people do not want to put the work in.
The ideal of waking up, driving to your own office, handing out business cards and slipping it into dinner table conversation that you run a business with a staff strength of over a hundred has come to epitomise the fact that you have arrived.
My office can seem overly laid back at times, so whenever we have young interns, I tend to give them bits of work and exercises to do. That way, they don’t leave with an impression that our jobs are all fun and games. Assignments could range from transcribing interviews to writing copy for adverts and jingles and even gathering news or information for the programmes. The general observation was that they always seemed uninterested. On one occasion, after giving one of the University students the assignment of coming up with concepts and ideas for radio adverts, she was given a six-hour deadline and, in the end, she spent those six hours on Facebook. She and the others had refused to do any of the work they had been assigned, but I also noticed they always seemed excited when it came to the supposed glamorous side of the job – talking on the microphone.
Some of them had tagged me the mean lady in the office who didn’t allow them indulge in the interesting or exciting kinds of work they expected and hoped for. The thing is this: transcribing interviews allows you the chance to listen intensively, teaching you how to ask questions, what kinds of questions to ask, and how to avoid certain mistakes that would cause those uncomfortable silences which we in the business refer to as dead air. You also discover subtle ways to come back from a dead air situation, as well as uncovering different interview styles and techniques.
Advertising is always good to hustle extra money, and if you can write them, that’s an extra skill you have acquired. It’s called “Copy writing”. Subliminally, the more you do it, the more you understand products and their consumers. As for research, that is the primary basis for every kind of programme. When it comes to learning about production using audio software, nothing beats acquiring a technical skill. This is because a specialised skill helps you become less disposable.
I remember my time as a recruitment officer in England. On a daily basis, over 50% of the Resumes with Nigerian names on them were relegated to the shredding machine. Not because of intolerance, but because those CVs were only a page long with no reasonable work experience. All they seemed to have were just degrees, but no portfolio. Filing paper, answering basic queries and organising a database doesn’t necessarily always mean that you are getting used or perhaps you are not fulfilling your potential. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who will become CEOs and would have never worked directly under somebody else but still make a success story of it all.
Still, before you become a CEO, you have to appreciate and understand process. So, whilst you are fantasising about printing the phrase on your complementary card “I’m CEO bi*ch” Just remember that you actually need to put some kind of work in however unexciting it might seem in the beginning. There is nothing wrong with stewardship.
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