by Yeyetunde Caxton-Martins HR Officer at RS Hunter Limited, December 01, 2015
A number of young graduates enter the labour market with impractical expectations. Sometimes it appears that their immediate focus is to secure a big oil and gas job with a multinational firm. This is exacerbated by the economic situation in the country which has resulted in most graduates being torn between what they really want to do and the need to work for a high paying organisation.
This inner conflict usually affects their immediate choices which can negatively impact their chosen career path as well as their sense of fulfillment and job satisfaction. As a recent graduate myself, I am usually speaking to my peers when I ask these questions:
- Have you decided on your chosen career path?
- Have you been able to secure your first job?
- Do you have a sense of job satisfaction?
I have decided to leave the subject of self-fulfillment to another day as I have come to realise that this is not a question for only young graduates.
In my current role as a HR officer with a consulting firm I am expected to participate in a certain number of interviews each month. A few months ago I was on a panel interviewing candidates for an entry level position in a small and medium scale company. The young lady had recently completed her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year and had no work experience however when asked about her career aspirations and salary expectations she responded “I would like to secure a job with a multinational firm and travel the world. My expectation for the role would be N8,400,000 gross” Now, as a HR practitioner, I commend her self-confidence and aspirations however; are they realistic and is an interview the right place to dream big? I was curious so I asked her to enlighten us on the basis for her high expectations. Unfortunately, she didn’t have an answer and it became clear that her statement was simply a desire.
I was intrigued by the fact that all the candidates I met that day happened to have similar responses to ‘Candidate A’ so by the end of the day I was driven to make two major conclusions regarding the expectations of a young graduate.
1. If I get good grades I will become a high-flyer when I graduate.
There appears to be a lack of appreciation for the work that is required to move up the career ladder for any profession. Is it me or is there is an expectation that when you graduate, you go immediately to the US or the UK for a Master’s degree programme; return and then waltz into a good job? This may be the story of a lucky few but the unfortunate reality is that this is not the case for most young graduates. Based on a ‘back of the envelope’ survey I carried out I have come to the conclusion that pursuing a higher degree immediately after the first degree is closely linked to who is paying (I’ll expatiate on this in another post.)
2. All good jobs pay a lot of money
Money (not career opportunities or aspirations) is the key motivator for many young graduates. There are well established firms in Nigeria that will imbibe in you good work ethics, expose you to the professional working environment, invest in your training as well as encourage a balance between your work and home life. Don’t stay fixated on the oil & gas, banking and telecommunication sectors and even if you do, you don’t necessarily have to start with the big ones.
While we do not all think alike, these myths appear to be holding many young graduates back from starting their careers and setting the right foundation for growth.
One of my favourite quotes by Anais Nin is “Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.”
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having high expectations, “The distance between your dream and reality is called action.” You must work hard to make your dream a reality so pace yourself, grow yourself and while you are doing these, stand out. I believe that if you are knowledgeable, professional, persistent and confident; one day your ideal will become your reality.