Like the average Nigerian, Kachi and Mariam believed that with good grades and if possible first class degrees, job offers will literally be thrown at them. So they worked really hard, aced JAMB and got into the University of Ibadan to study Law. In 2010 and 2012 respectively, they graduated with First Class Honours! Whoop. Both of them went on to the Nigerian Law School, and while Kachi bagged a first class degree, Mariam successfully carted away several prizes for academic excellence.
Life unfolded. Like a good movie turned bad and contrary to expectations, the job offers did not flood in. They still had to make job applications, write CVs and attend interviews. Kachi’s very first interview blunder forever remains hilarious to her. She had been invited for a ‘chat’ at a law firm and happily turned up in jeans and a top. Don’t laugh! They did say it was a chat didn’t they? She also vaguely recalls addressing her cover letter to one law firm, while sending it to another! Yes, this happens when you’re trying to apply to thirty law firms with the same CV and cover letter.
Thanks to a fully funded Commonwealth Scholarship (which included return flights, maintenance stipend and an allowance for temperate region clothes. Yes way!) Mariam and Kachi were privileged to attend the University of Cambridge in 2012 and 2014 respectively, and their Cambridge experiences pretty much changed their lives. If they thought applying for jobs in Nigeria was tough, the City was a whole lot tougher. For Kachi, the rejection emails became a norm, with most of them saying “You have not met our standards at this time”. She really began to question what these standards could be that two first class degrees + a Cambridge LL.M were insufficient to satisfy. Besides what on earth was the Watson Glaser Test, commercial awareness, the STAR technique for competency questions and assessment centres?
Mariam particularly recalls her interview experience at a topmost law firm in England. After preparing for the interview and catching up on her neglected Economist subscription, she walked in for the interview and in the middle of trying to introduce herself, her bag fell, and all the contents fell out too! Her lipstick, signature half-chewed biro cover, notes made in preparation for the interview and MAC powder poured out from the bag in a chaotic celebration of shame. This experience also made her realise that she had quite a bit of a problem selling herself – despite her excellent grades and extra curricular activities.
Dressing for the interview also needed to be addressed (See what we did there?). While Kachi stuck to the same H&M black dress and blazer paired with Primark heels for ALL her interviews, Mariam often debated what to wear. “Do I wear a trouser suit or a skirt suit? Is it okay to wear a camisole inside the suit? Can I wear black pantyhose under my skirt or will I look over layered? And what exactly am I meant to do with my hair?”
Thankfully, the 9 months spent in Cambridge for both of them, was such a huge turning point in relation to how to excel at their careers. From writing the perfect CV, excelling at interviews, to being pretty good at networking, they learnt as fast and as much as they could. Today, their day jobs as international lawyers provide the perfect platform to continue to hone these skills.
Over a casual chat, they shared experiences and realised that there’s a huge gap in preparing young people for their careers, and these are issues often not taught in Nigerian schools or most other schools for that matter. The average Nigerian probably waits until graduation from University to write their first CV, while their counterpart in the UK or other developed countries may have secured a full time job by their second year of University.
According to them, “We’re essentially trying make an impact on the younger generation and share all we’ve learnt. We hope to address some of these issues through such continuous workshops. Due to ehm, budgetary restrictions, we can only accommodate 20 ladies for this initial session, as we’re essentially funding this ourselves! Holla if you’ll like to support us in anyway. There’s so much we hope to achieve through this, but for now, we just had to hit the ground running”.
Applications for this FREE workshop are open to ladies between the ages of 16-30, and it is not limited to just law students or lawyers. Head on to www.kacheetee.com/workshop to apply.
For now, share your job interview blunders and let us laugh at with you!
Date: Saturday, July 9th 2016
Venue: Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria (Selected Participants Shall Be Given More Details)
Entry Requirements: Write a short essay of not more than 200 words on “What Success Means to Me”; and In not more than 30 words, explain why you should be selected attend this workshop.
Registration Closes: Saturday, June 25th 2016
Shortlisted candidates will Know by: Thursday, June 30th 2016
Click here to register
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