The era of going to school just to get a certificate is now over. A few years ago, all you need was to go to the university to make 1st class or 2:1 and you will have jobs waiting for you after graduation. In fact, 2:2 graduates don’t struggle much to get job those days. The economy was good, automation and robots were not taking away jobs.
I’m a strong advocate of academic excellence. Nothing makes me glad than seeing a 1st class or 2:1 graduate with the necessary skill set. In this era of technology, all your 1st class or 2:1 can do for you is to get you a job. Succeeding at the job will be determined by the skills you acquired in school. That’s why most companies do place their new hires on three to six months of probation before making their contract permanent.
I have met some 1st class and 2:1 graduates who do not know Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint. Some can rarely make a presentation before five people without sweating profusely or committing blunders. I was once in 1st class before I dropped to 2:1 but trust me that decision was the best for me. There was a semester I made 5.0 GP, which is the highest GP you can have in a single semester in any Nigerian university except in the University of Ibadan.
I knew I wasn’t going to look for a job after school. I told myself, it was either I get a job without going through unnecessary stress, or I become an employer of labour. Also, I make my first 1 million Naira on campus selling pure water, bread, groundnut and the likes in the hostel. In addition, I employed four managers before I graduated. I learned about marketing, customers and inventory management, internal control and gained practical knowledge of all I was taught in the classroom in my room.
I contested for legislative election in my year 1 and president in year 4. It was during the campaign for those elections that I developed public speaking skills. As President, I managed millions of naira. I organized a summit that had over a thousand participants, I also met my mentor when I was serving as president. I became ACCA student ambassador in my year 4 and had the opportunity to attend training organized by them. Also, I attended several paid and free seminars and conferences.
The interviewer at my first job interview thought I was a “yes sir graduate” who will take any form of treatment just to get a job. We argued during the interview, and he was shocked a fresh graduate could engage him in an argument during an interview. I knew what I was made of and I wasn’t ready to take nonsense from anyone.
Stutern Graduate Report shows these are the skills graduates believe they are equipped with by the course they studied:
Critical Thinking: 55.2%
Problem Solving: 49.9%
Team Working: 57.3%
Written Communication: 44.8%
Spoken Communication 42.2%
Knowledge of Job 42.7%
The tragedy of the above data is that majority of graduates can’t boast of 50% knowledge of their dream job after spending four years studying a course related to the job. That’s an evidence of how students are so concerned about grades rather than knowledge of their course. While I will encourage you to go for the best in your academics, it is never an excuse to neglect personal development because employers are much more interested in your soft and hard skills.
If you are still in school, do business and join departmental leadership. Volunteer for NGOs, join the press, public speaking group and by all means, acquire Microsoft Office Skills.
If you are a graduate without employability skill, don’t be afraid to start.
It will be tragic to be a 1st class or 2:1 graduate who has nothing to offer beyond the certificate.