Graduate Unemployment in Kenya: You are in a poorly lit single room where a distant cousin of yours is hosting you. It is now slightly over a month since you graduated from the university. As you look at your certificates in your hands, you can’t help but giggle when you remember the graduation party in the village. How the well-off in the society hired a school bus belonging to the secondary school nearby to attend your graduation and then the real party in the village. The most vivid memories of the day were the artificial flowers (with a stinging effect) that were put around your neck and the fact that your father gave you ten thousand shillings in cash as a gift. And it was well deserved. You did him proud by performing well in your primary school and getting yourself admitted in a good secondary school. Probably the best in the region. Again you proved your worth by doing well in your A-Levels and earning yourself an admission at a university in a distant land. It is from that
university that you have just graduated from.
Fast forward to this moment. No one ever tells you what to expect after clearing school. Your
imagination therefore is that you will come across a job advert whose qualifications are just what
you have and so you will apply for the job, go for an interview and get hired. That would mark
the beginning of your dream career. I hate to be the prophet of doom here but in most cases, this imagination never comes to reality. Job-hunting turns out to be the most frustrating part of one’s life. Mainly because vacancies do not come up often and when they do, there hundreds of other graduates seeking the same position. So you all send your applications but the major shock is that none of you actually makes the cut. Turns out the position was filled even before the advert was placed in the local dailies. That the advert was just a PR stunt is the bitter truth and the harsh reality.
All the futile job applications notwithstanding, there is still hope. And it lies within those opportunities that we ignore as we chase our dream careers.
Supermarket or shop attendant, waitress at a local cafe, receptionist at a nearby gym, M-pesa attendant, cyber cafe attendant you name them all. These are opportunities that are often ignored by many graduates since they are jobs which require minimum qualifications if any. It actually does not hurt doing these jobs graduate or not. Drop that application at the nearest supermarkets and shops and within no time you will have a job albeit not the one you hoped for. It doesn’t pay much but your earnings will be enough to rent a small house of your own so that you can finally move from your cousin’s house. He or she has probably had enough of your intrusion into their space and they are now treating you like a liability. This is despite of the deceptive “you can stay here for as long as you want” at the beginning of your stay.
Lick your wounds and take on the next available opportunity. That does not mean you stop
sending those applications. Time will tell how long it will take you to get into your dream career
but trust me that dream career will not find you locked in a room chin in hand waiting for that
call to an interview. It will find you in diligently serving coffee in that café. That client you are
serving could actually be your next boss in that company you dream about. And you will not be
another statistic of unemployed graduates.
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