What a year to graduate ay?
They say graduation should be a day filled with jubilation and ecstasy. A sense of accomplishment should engulf you as your hard work and late nights grafting in the dungeon will all be remunerated when you walk across that stage, shake your dean’s hand and do a little two-step for the culture.
Well….. I guess you can two-step on zoom instead right?
But in all seriousness, no one could’ve predicted what would happen this year. Some people have said 2020 is cancelled, some have said these experiences were needed to open the eyes of the world, and truly give us ‘2020 vision’. Glass half empty, glass half full kinda vibes. I’ll let you decide which idiom you resonate with the most.
I sway towards the latter, it has been tough but I can’t complain. I’m salubrious( shoutout RTB pod word of the day), my family and friends are safe, and I’ve achieved a lot of my goals already. I guess adversity really does build character.
More importantly, I achieved a major milestone of graduating. 4 years and 2 universities later, I can proudly say I made it. My journey through higher education was far from linear though, as someone who was used to performing well in education, starting uni and not understanding certain topics on my course was a big shock to me, humbling even. With African parents, dropping out was never an option, so it was either, stick with it and persevere, or pivot directions and try something new. I decided to switch universities, change courses and essentially plunge into the unknown. Looking back on it, it was probably the best decision I’ve made in my life to date. That one year buffer period or extended gap year if you will, allowed me to reaffirm what was important, where I wanted to go career-wise, and the steps I needed to take to get there. Fast forward 3 years I’ve done quite a few work experiences and met some inspirational, purpose-driven people along the way. Would this still have been the case if I stuck on my original path? Who knows, all I can say is I’m happy I diverted.
I would say my biggest takeaway over these 4 years hasn’t been the lessons learnt in the lecture theatre, but rather the growth of character I’ve achieved. Gone are the days of the young 18 year old who thought he knew it all. Usher in the 22-year-old who is aware of his shortcomings and lack of knowledge on certain topics, and is actively working to improve them. But I’m also acutely aware that I am still young, and I’m not expected to know it all / have it all figured out yet.
They say experience is the best teacher, and now that I’m older I wholeheartedly agree. This is something I think us recent graduates, or graduands as TN would say need to remember. We have so much time left to become the successful future leaders we want to be. There is literally no rush.
However as an economist, I will say this, these next few years are gonna be rough, no cap! If you’ve seen our 2020 grad facts posts, you’ll see the job market is looking tight right now.
This sparked the title of this blog, its a marathon not a sprint. The job market may be bleak for the next year or so, but we’re adapters, and innovators, gone are the times of a 9 – 5 being the only way you can raise income. Build those skills up, do virtual internships, start that business, try a new hobby, enrich yourself in your culture and heritage. One thing I’ve been getting from the conversations I’ve been having with older, more successful people is that life is for living fam. When you’re young and responsibility-free, it’s the best time to experiment and try to live in your purpose. What’s the worse that can happen? I’d rather try and fail now, then try and fail when I have a mortgage and kids.
What’s important is strategy.
Where am I now, where do I want to be in 5 / 10 years? What steps do I need to take to get there? These are all key questions we should be starting to think about. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to have it figured out now. If you do great, but you’re well within your right to be confused. The most important step is having those questions in your mind, and starting to build those systems and processes that will help answer them.
As we transition towards the next stage of our lives, be strategic and be intentional in what you want to achieve. And don’t forget to live it up on the way there.