It is very important for any Nigerian that has the opportunity to go to university outside the country to gain some work experience in that country.
Let’s think back to our independence. The reason we have independence today is because people who were abroad saw the advantages gained from independence and decided to come back to lead the fight for our independence for a better Nigeria. The same principle applies; the UK is far more advanced than Nigeria in many sectors of business. For Nigeria to move forward we need foreign financial investment and most importantly people with international experience and exposure. In fact international corporations are aware of the value international exposure brings to the future growth of their firm, and they factor it into their long-term growth strategy. A good example is PwC – the international professional service firm, in order to become a partner there is a compulsory requirement to get an international work placement. Below are the four reasons why Nigerian International Students do not get internship or graduate jobs:
We Lack Work Experience
I have had the opportunity to review a lot of CVs for people and I have noticed something common with most Nigerian students – they emphasize their academic excellence more than anything else. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but to an employer a 1st class or an A* only tells the employer that you are good at storing information in your head and putting it down on paper. It doesn’t tell the employer you have the essential skills, such as leadership, networking or even presentation skills, for their business to grow. Work experience, whether it is in corporate world or a charity, will enable you to show off some of those keys skills that employers love to see. You don’t need relevant work experience or paid work experience to gain those skills.
We Start Late
In the UK timing is so important. Most employers will aim for their new employees to start around September for graduate jobs and June or July for summer internships. Therefore, some employers will open for applications as soon as August (the year before). Some really keen students get their internships and grad jobs sorted in good time before they even start Uni. I have seen a lot students realize that they need an internship or a grad job way too late in the recruitment process. At this point most applications are closed or filled up. An early start gives you more options that can increase the probability of getting a job.
We Give Up
It’s a Nigerian thing; we are all to used to calling that uncle who knows the MD or CEO of a company that can get us that internship or job in 24 hours. I myself have enjoyed that privilege once; unfortunately it is not the same in the UK. Even those who have connections in the UK do not get the job in 24 hours they still have to go through the long recruitment process. With this 24-hour mentality most of us tend to give up after we get rejected the first three or four times. Not knowing that the only way to succeed is through failure. As long as we learn from each experience. I have had to send 52 applications before I actually landed my first job. Never give up. We must learn that every time we fail, we are given an opportunity to learn and become better.
We Have A Cultural Barrier
This is something I still struggle with a little. Needless to say, the British culture is different from the Nigerian culture. What we see as acceptable will be different from what the average white British person sees as acceptable. I was invited to dinner at my Scottish friends house. As a Nigerian man I turned up to his house empty handed and with an empty stomach. It came to my understanding later on that he was offended by that, I was suppose to at least bring a bottle of wine or dessert. That concept of you inviting me to your house to eat and me bringing part of the dinner was very new to me. Obviously this example is not career related but we can see how our cultural difference can offend one another without even realizing. This can then hinder us from achieving well at an interview or an assessment centre. How do we combat this important issue? It’s simple; all we need to do is ensure we embrace diversity in our friendship groups. This is the safest way to learn a different culture and gain exposure. If you are privileged enough to study in the UK you don’t only get an international qualification but you also get the opportunity to mix with people from different backgrounds. It is essential you utilise it.
Some people may read this article and it may be too late to go back to the UK to apply for jobs. What is very important here is that we ensure we give the knowledge and opportunities we didn’t have to the younger generation. Share this with someone young that you love or care about.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Atholpady