A few months to the end of my National Youth Service (NYSC), I asked myself an important question “Vincent, where do you want to be in five years?” For few minutes I couldn’t provide an answer to the question. I was looking at the sheet of paper on the table. I had plans but I had never thought of the plans from five years perspective.
After few minutes, I wrote some things I had in mind and what I would love to achieve five years after service. I served in Lagos even though I never enjoyed serving in Lagos. I was hoping to serve in a village in the North or Eastern part of Nigeria where I will be able to save.
My PPA didn’t pay me and the #19,800 Federal Government was paying was rarely enough to sustain me in a month. The transportation cost alone was close to one-third of my monthly allowance not to talk of feeding expenses. Cost of living is high in Lagos which why I don’t advice people to serve in Lagos except you have a relative you can stay with and you are sure of a PPA that will pay you something substantial in addition to your monthly NYSC allowance.
I was visiting Ibadan occasionally during service because I was seeing a big opportunity in the education sector. Ibadan has a population of over three million people and more than one-third of the population are in primary and secondary schools. That’s approximately 1 million students. I saw a big market and I was ready to tap into it. All I needed was to develop a product or a service that is affordable and that will solve a specific problem. I had already published a book on academic excellence and produced a video disc on the same topic.
However, I wrote all my plans down. I registered a business name and I was ready to move to Ibadan after service. Some people saw it as a crazy decision. “How can you move to Ibadan after serving in Lagos?” My plan was to look for a job opportunity in Lagos but go to Ibadan to start a business once I can’t get a job.
The probability of getting a job that will pay well is higher in Lagos than Ibadan but the cost of starting a business in Ibadan is cheaper than Lagos. I got a cool self-contain at Oluyole Estate at a very good price, I knew I won’t get such amount in Lagos, not at that price.
A few days to my Passing-Out-Parade, I booked an appointment with my mentor to share my five years plan with him and to ask for his advice. I told him I will be moving to Ibadan anytime soon. He asked me some questions which I provided perfect answers to. He was impressed with my plans and how detailed it was. Also, he even asked me when I planned to get married and I told him.
My mentor said, “Vincent, you’re not moving to Ibadan, you will be in Lagos”. I started arguing with him, “What if I don’t get a job in Lagos?” I asked him other questions and he said: “You are a very smart and intelligent guy, I know you will get a job soon”. Also, I told him about the unemployment rate in Nigeria and some senior colleagues I know that are still looking for a job several years after graduation.
A few days later, I got a job. I knew it was preparation meeting opportunity. Opportunity will always knock at your door if you’re always prepared.
Going to the real world after service without a plan can be disastrous. Your plan doesn’t necessarily have to be a plan after NYSC. We all need a master plan our life. I always ask youths where they want to be in five years’ time and the responses I always get are responses that shows cluelessness and lack of sense of direction.
One of the reasons I always encourage undergraduates to learn a skill in school is because it helps to plan your life better after NYSC. But it’s sad many youths have no other option than to be sleeping at home all because they have nothing else to offer beyond their certificate. Whereas, there are opportunities around them that they can key into to become an employer of labour instead of waiting for a job in multinationals and big firms.
– Learn a skill in school or during your service year – baking, catering, photography, makeup or whatever you have the passion for.
- Learn software – Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, or any Data Analytic tool. You can be making a lot of money in your room if you’re good in any of this software.
- Look for a business opportunity and start small.
- Come up with a solution to a particular problem.
- Create a product – write a motivational, story (book), an academic game.
- Look into the agriculture sector, it has an enormous opportunity.