Tuesday, October 14

Questions for Undergraduates

In our today’s world, there is something going on in our country (and in so many other countries around the world too) that is very chilling. Something is very wrong somewhere. And very scary too. It has something to do with undergraduates, majorly…

What could this thing be? Any ideas anyone…?

Of course, don’t look far. It is the fact that more and more undergraduates are finding it very difficult to get a job once they graduate.

Unemployment is the problem. A very big problem. It is very scary but it is the reality.

So what could actually be the problem? Why is it that so many of our youths are unemployed?

Does it mean that our undergraduates are not skilled or qualified enough? Or does it mean that there are no jobs at all to satisfy the needs of millions of graduates who are dumped into the labor market year in year out? Or does it mean that our government has completely lost it and has ran out of ideas on what to do and the necessary or right steps to take to arrest this cumbersome and worrisome development?

Thoughts like this have been bothering me for quite some time and it is the same thought that has spurred me into taking up my pen to write my inner thoughts down.

I knew I had to do this because it was kind of shocking to me when I realized that a greater part of the problem lies with the individual himself.

Try to deny this as much as you want.
Try to blame the companies, employers, the government, as much as you want but the simple truth is that at the end of the day, the individual still has a very and major role towards pulling himself out of or putting himself into the swampy and murky sea of unemployment.

The thing I have noticed with most of our undergraduates is that, when it comes to issues concerning unemployment, we tend to have this belief that when we get to that bridge, we will cross it.

But do we cross it?

Of course, not so many do. So many are left wandering aimlessly and hopelessly, swimming everyday in the murky water of unemployment with no hope of ever swimming to safety in sight.

So if you ask me, I’d say the problem can easily be traced to is lack of preparation on the part of the student. Most of our students can be compared to that ignorant man who was so deep in sleep while being totally ignorant of the great danger he's already in because his entire house was completely surrounded by wolves waiting in ambush for him to wake up so that they will pounce on him...

And he will continue to sleep and sleep. Until he can sleep no more...

But it shouldn’t be that way—again.

The goal of writing this is that by the end of this article, I must have achieved my aim of awakening in our undergraduates that latent spirit of awareness towards taking up the mantle to start making plans on the battle ahead.

You will agree with me that most battles can easily be won if the fighters are adequately prepared.

So if you are an undergraduate reading this, I want you to consider these words of mine as that preparation. A forewarning. Take it as that wake-up call that is calling you to take action today.

I am going to take a different route in writing today. Most times, it is usually my style to point out a problem and then try to proffer some suggestions or solutions.

Today, I will not be doing that. I will simply be pointing out problems after problems. My plan is NOT to provide the solution. My plan is for you the student to provide the solution!

I won’t tell you what to do. All I want is for you to start thinking of what to do. I know this might be a very difficult terrain for most of us but the truth is that you cannot underestimate the power of thinking and the greater things that could be achieved through serious and focused thinking.

So I want to make you think.

Sorry if you find the things I am going to saying scary but the truth is that if it is fear that is needed to ginger you into taking action, I am afraid, I won’t pull punches when doing that because the truth is that something needs to be done at all cost to prevent that catastrophic calamity that awaits us…

So without wasting any more of your time, let me kick off the game by presenting you with these questions which I want any undergraduate reading this to become acquainted with while pondering the truths cum the questions that are raised in his or her mind.

So these are some of the questions I will like all undergraduates to start thinking about as from now on. Sleep over it. Discuss it with you peers. Discuss it amongst yourselves. Discuss it with your lecturers. Try to see if you can come up with their rightful answers the way it will definitely suit you, okay?

Okay. Now let’s start.


What am I learning in school?
Do you have any idea what you are learning in school? In other words, why are you in school? Yes, I'm asking you. Do you have any idea?

Do you know that as funny or strange as this might sound, only a few students will find this question so easy to answer?

Oh yes. This is most likely because most of our graduates are just there with no idea of why they are in school or what they are doing in school but for us to tackle the monster of unemployment and tackle to a standstill, this must change.

Think about it. What are you being taught in the school? Of what relevant is it to you concerning what you want to achieve with your life—while in, and after school?

Think.


What other skills do I have?
Okay, let’s say you are amongst the lucky and privileged group who know why they are school and what they are doing in school. Let’s say you know what you are learning in school.

But have you ever wondered whether that is enough?

Has it ever crossed your mind that you might actually need to acquire some more knowledge and skills to be more efficient in your chosen career? Do you have any special talents that can set you apart from others? Okay, come to think of it now, have you ever asked yourself this question: what am I so passionate about?

Have you thought about the possibility of changing career in the event of you experiencing some changing fortunes in our very unpredictable world?

Do you have hobbies and passions that you might depend on or fall back on assuming things don’t go according to plans?

What plans do you have in the event of such occurrence? Or are you waiting until you graduate before you start thinking along this line?

Think about it.


What connections can I make while in school?
One of the best things the school system can do for anyone is to help you meet people. But many students don’t make use of this opportunity.

What type of company do you keep while in school? Who are your friends? Why are they your friends? What type of relationship do you have with him or her or them?

Do you know anybody in your class right now who you can team up with assuming you want to start your own business? Or even further your career?

What is your social life like? Or are you the type of student who is solely concerned with his books and nothing else?

Who do you know? Where do you get your information from? Do you know anyone who can give you the right information that will help link you towards becoming gainfully employed? Or are you waiting until you get to that bridge?

Think about that.


How many people you know are employed after graduation?
This very question forms the basis of the wake-up call I’m calling for. Oh yes, start thinking about it now? Take a head count, if you like. How many people do you know become employed or get that job after graduation?

Okay, how long did it take them to get there? Have you ever asked them what they did to get where they are today? Or do you simply believe it was just their luck?

As a student, are you scared or seriously bothered by the fact that so many people you see around you are either unemployed or underemployed? Or are you simply satisfied with the notion that it’s not your portion?

Now tell me, what plans are you making towards making sure that it will never be your portion? Can you name up to five points in this your plan? Or is it safe to conclude that you don’t have any plan at all?

Think about it.


Where will I work?
Schooling has always got something to do with getting a job or working. In fact, the system we’ve always had is the system of go to school, get a good grade and get a good job.

So the question now that you are in school is where will I work? Okay, let me put it this way, where will I like to work?

What type of job will I like to do? What type of job am I well suited for? What skills and qualifications am I required to have to be deemed fit to take on that type of job?

Funnily enough, most students don’t even think about this—and some who do don’t have any clear answer to this.

You know your capabilities so I am not going to tell you what job is best fitted for you.

Are you the business type? Or are you the white-collar job type? Or can you do both? Ask yourself now, what opportunities are available to me right now even as a student? Is there a way I could start earning even while I’m still in school?

Start thinking about it—now!


How do companies make money?
In our world today, money rules. Oh yes, it’s all about the money! Depending on your situation and your ideology in life, you may consider this as a good thing or as a bad thing but you can never rule out the fact that money is so necessary in our world today!

You may not have seen it but the truth is that you are going to school so that you can make money.

Okay, okay, okay. Don’t mind me. That is too superficial. Who doesn’t know that you are going to school so that you can acquire knowledge?

But let’s look at it again. Why do you acquire knowledge? Of course, you acquire knowledge so that you can use it to get a good job that will pay you some good money in the end!

So you see, one way or the other, it is still money!

Now that we have finally arrived, let me now ask you this question, most especially now that you have also identified the type of company or work or job you are best suited for with the talents, skills and knowledge you have: how does your chosen company make their money?

You may consider this. Have you any idea what this company you will like to work for or work with is all about? So how do these companies make their money?

You shouldn’t be necessarily only concerned with earning. Ask yourself now, what types of services or products are they offering or selling?

What exactly are they doing to earn that money? Can it be replicated—the thing they are doing to make that money? Okay, can I do that same they are doing by myself without necessarily being an employee of that very company?

Think.


What value can I add?
The simple truth about money is that is a measure of value. A wise man once said that if you can solve people’s problems, you can never be poor.

And solving people’s people means nothing other than adding value to their life either by making their lives easier, happier, simpler, enjoyable, more fulfilling or by lessening their pains.

So any serious undergraduate who is also consciously troubled by the current state of world events as it concerns unemployment should also take the time to be pondering on the value he can add.

What problems can I solve for people—with what I already know? What or how can I make their lives easier with the skills and talents and other resources already available to me?

Pick a company you know you like. Now, what problems could they be having? And what are the possible challenges I will have to overcome in trying to solve those problems?

Get thinking.

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