When 27 year old Rebecca (not real name) graduated in 2009, she threw a big party. She had successfully garnered a Bachelors Degree in Development Studies from Makerere University and celebrations were in order. Like all other fresh graduates, she believed that a job would soon come knocking and that her money troubles would soon be over. Three years down the road, that job is yet to come!
“Volunteer…go for an internship”, she was severally told. Despite the experience and networks, she has not found a job; not because she is not smart- it is just that unemployment is a harsh reality that the country has to deal with. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, tertiary institutions produce an estimated 400,000 graduates every year but only 80,000 of these are absorbed into formal employment.
For Ugandan youth, “It is going to take patience, hard work and versatility…one needs different skills to stay competitive”, Brian, a Young Sexual and Reproductive Health Consultant who has tried different trades notes. He volunteers for a road safety campaign, writes for a website and does free lance consultancy on Sexual and Reproductive Health.
Versatility; Rebecca is working on that! She tells me she has opened up a bar. I do not know whether I should admire her or envy her dynamism and courage. Some of us are too shy to even start more orthodox businesses like food vending or carpentry, but a bar!
Yet, dynamism is what it is going to take for us to pull out of these hard times. You might want to become a lawyer, a teacher, or a pilot and if you study hard you will get there. However, if you are interested in having a job by the time you finish school, you need to do a reality check, particularly on the state of the labour market. Simply put, if the supply of white collar jobs is not in sync with the demand, the end to unemployment will remain an elusive dream.
Today, we are not only worried about finding our dream jobs but also keeping the ones that we have. In this era, you will have to be creative, courageous, and dynamic for you to be able to find a job or keep the one you have. In other words, you will have to stand out of the crowd- be extraordinary!
Defining extraordinary- traits of extraordinary people
- Knowledge seekers: the statement that learning is a lifelong process rings very true for extraordinary people. They desire knowledge and continuously seek to make themselves better. Extraordinary people do not only perfect their trades but also strive to understand new ideas and perspectives.
- Strive for gold: This is probably why Steven Kiprotich is very popular; he struck gold. I confess that I do not remember the silver medalist- possibly because he was overshadowed by Kiprotich. By striving for gold, we push ourselves to do the very best. At work, we do not only deliver on our assigned tasks but go an extra mile and offer our support to colleagues who will need it. One wise man said, “the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra”.
- Embrace change: Extraordinary people see change as an opportunity rather than a threat. They understand that change is necessary for growth and they embrace it. Extraordinary people try to break out of routine and see things differently. “It is when we choose to see things differently that magic reveals itself”.
Unfortunately, not all of us will always win the gold and sometimes, we will fall short of expectations. When this happens, we should not lose hope. If you think you are ordinary; do not fret, all of us are in more ways than one. However, you should not be content, always strive to be better. If you fall today and tomorrow and the next day, just keep on getting back up. Extraordinary takes persistence!
I will raise a glass to all the extraordinary men and women who make life magical. The ones who see wealth out of garbage (recycling polythene paper); the ones who think that unemployment is an opportunity to think out of the box (starting a bar when you studied social work) and those who are yet to come out of their shells. We all have what it takes to be extraordinary- we just have to do those ordinary things in extraordinary ways.
By Ritah N