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19.07.2018 Opinion

A Letter To Graduates

By Enam Ami Agbozo
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LISTEN JUL 19, 2018
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Dear Graduates,
Congratulations on successfully coming to the end of your 4 years or more stay on campus. I can imagine the smiles on your face, the fresh dresses, hairstyles, makeup, shoes, clutches and what have you for your graduation ceremony. The deep gratitude in your heart as you look back at your journey and wonder how you made it through these strenuous 4/++ years. The do or die assignments and exams, health breakdowns, family issues, heartbreaks, etc. Indeed you’ve managed to go through all of these and come out a conqueror and for that, I say ayekoo.

As much as you would wish the feeling of gratitude and relief at leaving and finally graduating could stay with you for as long as it could, it’s necessary for you to also know that life doesn’t always work your way. Truth is, you’ve conquered one challenge and you have to be ready and prepared to overcome the several that will keep coming at you until you bow out of life. To borrow a friend’s words, “there’s nothing like I’ve arrived in Christianity(life), it’s rather about progress”. I’d like to let you know that you’re not really going to experience the “I’ve arrived” thing in this life, you’re only constantly going to be getting the “I conquered this”, celebrate and then brace yourself for the next challenge, because real life doesn’t come with the proverbial four walls of a campus.

In preparing you for what is ahead, here’s some friendly advice and warning for the times ahead. It’s better to know what you would be up against, so you can prepare adequately for it. Instead of assuming that everything would go according to the plans and calculations you have in your head.

On Unemployment
I am pretty sure that this is a topic or situation you have fervently prayed doesn’t become your story. It’s great to pray, but faith without works is dead right? So what are you putting in place to ensure that this doesn’t become your story? The system is no help, things are messed up, there are lots of employment opportunities but only a few people are absorbed because that’s all the companies can afford. What are your choices, would you stay at home and continue going from interview to interview, would you start your own business, would you digitize a family business? These are legitimate questions that should start running through your mind after you’re done taking off the makeup, “dapper” outfit, sending the gown back and going for your certificate. Because the next big event is National Service, and after that comes employment. What will your story be? I discussed this topic further in this article: GRADUATE UNEMPLOYMENT - HOW TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE . You would want to check it out and learn what your options are. Here also, is some tidbits on KICKSTARTING YOUR CAREER AS A MILLENIAL COLLEGE GRADUATE . You may not get anyone to actually tell you all these, so take it as a friendly advice from someone who has been through your experience before.

On Savings and Investments
Maybe you’re like me who spent the bulk of my money whilst a student on ice cream, fizzy drinks and snacks. Maybe too, you’re the wise student who got introduced to savings and investment earlier so you have a chunk of money sitting in some account, awesome. The reality for most graduates is that you have probably never really given much thought to savings or investment. Well, life has taken on a new chapter now. Responsibilities you didn’t know existed would start rearing their heads, expenses that previously were none of your business are now going to be knocking your door intermittently. Without a savings account or some form of investments package to lean on in times of emergencies, implementation of new living conditions etc., you’ll be a pretty messed up person and that’s when you will start hating life.

Whatever your situation currently, start making some steady strides towards saving some money or investing in some assets that can be useful in the future. A good place to start with your small funds could be fixed deposits, treasury bills, mutual funds, money markets, etc. For those who already have a solid foundation and are looking towards more sustainable income from their investments, there’s stocks, bonds, the famous MTN GHANA SHARES, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies & digital assets. For the bitcoin & other digital assets, I will advise you properly research them and understand what you’re getting yourself into before jumping on the ship. This website does some good work with explaining the basics, WHAT IS BITCOIN? A STEP BY STEP GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS and this gives you some beginner investment advice: HOW TO INVEST IN CRYPTOCURRENCIES: THE ULTIMATE BEGINNERS GUIDE . Ensure that you have a plan that allows you to save or invest whilst you have the energy to work so that you can live a comfortable life and be able to weather the many storms that life brings. This book, The Smart Money Woman, had an interesting way of incorporating the lessons about investments and learning in a very narrative format, you would want to read it.

On Personal & Professional Development
As you’re well aware by now, most of what you learnt in school may or may not be useful in the workplace. Except you were the student who was as invested in extracurricular activities as academic work, then you would have picked up on some basic human interaction skills, managing pressure, performing or presenting before audiences et al, which can give you a little prop up. The good thing is that you have time now to learn, you are starting your national service in a bit. And depending on where you are posted, you may or may not be busy. But whatever the situation may be, set some goals to develop yourself personally, i.e improve your self-awareness, discover your gifts/talents/strengths and develop them, improve your employability, etc. These major areas can culminate into activities such as exercising and eating healthily (done intentionally), learning crafts, delving more into a personal fascination (perhaps painting, writing, poetry, etc.) Professionally too, take courses to improve your understanding and command of the career you want to pursue, join professional networks (I would recommend LBN , if you’re in Accra, Kumasi or Sunyani), join professional bodies, attend industry related events, expand your scope, get a mentor. Take your own development into your hands, whether your company sponsors it or not, ensure that you’re developing yourself. Always remember that work/employment would come and go, the only person that doesn’t change is you! So put effort into developing yourself!

On Marriage and Relationships
The age you’re entering into is the period where you would start attending friends’, coursemates, hall colleagues, etc. weddings et al. Based on your personality and individual goals, you may or may not be affected by the pressure of relationships, heartbreaks, early/late marriage and all the relationship pressures that can emanate after you’ve graduated. My advice to you is this: if you wish to eventually get married someday, start preparing yourself from day one. Learn from others, read books, be informed generally about marriage. If you need to learn how to fix windows, bathrooms, basic care for children, living with others who have different personalities et al, do put time into learning all of these. If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend you’d want to marry, begin to ask them the important questions, find out about their families, visit them at home (when there are other family members around of course!), observe how they relate with the people they call family, observe the traits of the mom and dad. Ensure that before you finally decide to marry the person, you’d have gathered enough information to stay glued even when things go wrong. Don’t go in with the mindset of marrying early only to be divorced two months later. Remember your life goes beyond marriage and a sour taste with it could potentially mess you up for a long time. To top the preparation up, save or invest some money towards your marriage, not just the wedding ceremony, but after the wedding too. There’d be rent, utilities, food, etc. make sure you’re well prepared for all that.

On National Service
Unless you’re an individual who probably doesn’t wish to stay and work in Ghana or disregards national service, it’s most likely this would be your first actual working experience. And really, this experience is what you choose to make it. The situations and setups may be arranged to work against you, frustrate you or better still make you give up. But how you handle it personally would determine if you come out with relevant experience and value to offer your future employers. I for one, during my national service, took on freelancing jobs as a way of earning from my personal talent in writing. I also enrolled in a social entrepreneurship competition, which I was able to make lots of progress in and had opportunities to attend conferences based on my performance in the competition. No matter where you find yourself, there’s an opportunity you can create, an impact you can make, a new skill you can learn, extra income you could garner, it all really depends on you. If you haven’t yet, set some goals for yourself for this one year period. Your one year starts from August 2018 to August 2019, what you choose to do with this time is absolutely up to you. For starters, you can visit this conversation here we had on Twitter about NSS, then you can watch the video below that talks about achieving your biggest ambitions, and finally an article here: HOW TO TRANSITION FROM STUDENT TO EMPLOYEE - 1 and here: HOW TO TRANSITION FROM STUDENT TO EMPLOYEE - 2 that focuses on doing the transition from student to employee. The choice is yours to make, the information and resources are all out there, it’s up to you to decide what you do with all of it.

HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR MOST AMBITIOUS GOALS -TEDx Tucson

I believe this article would prove useful to you and you’d make time to implement some of the suggestions you get from it. If you would want to get in touch, you can reach me at [email protected] or visit my blog: mimispassion.com . Download The Smart Money Woman .

Written by Enam Ami Agbozo

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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