Jacqueline Akello’s Advice For Starting Your Career: The First Step

Professors Without Borders is committed to empowering students through education. Through our summer school programs in Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, and India, we help students develop the skills that they will need to pursue jobs within their chosen career field.

In the final part of our career advice series, we asked Jacqueline Akello, the Pioneer University Secretary for the African Rural University in Kagadi, Uganda, to share her advice for searching and applying for jobs.

Please enjoy the following article from Jacqueline.

High school leavers join university or college with big dreams. Each one believes that having the college degree or diploma shall earn them a comfortable job in life. In the first few months before going to college, there are so many possibilities a freshman sees of life. In fact, they often think the adults just do not get it. Once they start the freshman year, there is a lot of catching up, a lot of socialization and the management of newly found freedom. There are no parents to decide by what time you should be home, done homework or sleep. Parents hope you can make responsible choices.

The world is an open ground for exploration. For some, the dreams die as fast as they came. Others nurture and water their dreams.
Indeed it is an open ground for exploration. What should be most important is that what are you exploring at? If it is that dream job you want, explore the possibilities that can earn you the experience to get to that job even while at university/college. Now how does one get to know the job opportunities while at college?

Know your primary choices in life. The primary choice is that which against all other choices are made. For example, if you want to be the most successful rolex (chapatti rolled with omelet and other fillings) trader in the region, what would you do? What must you choose to do to make it? What is involved in the making, pricing, what are the different flavours people like, what varieties must you have, what would make a customer comeback to purchase? All these guide one’s decision making.

Your associates matter. Whom you associate with is important to guide you in the choices that you end up making. Associating with staff of the college can enable you know the openings available. Perhaps a professor would want a research assistant. They are willing to mentor and train. These are short term opportunities. Assuming you want to be a statistician, you want to be as close to research associates as possible to give you opportunities to learn the tools of your trade while you get paid for it.

Ask the college Dean or Administrator. The Administrator and or Dean of any college always has a broader understanding of emerging needs. They shall always guide or recommend you. Notice boards often have leads, follow-up assume you are the first to read it. Volunteer if need be.
Business opportunities within the college. Your fellow students may be willing to purchase items or services from you. A number of college students have provided services such as graphics design, organize events, photocopy services etc. So many of these business opportunities are readily supported by the college students who become your clients and undertake free marketing for you. You must be willing to sacrifice a little pride. For some, such services are developed into full time jobs after college.

Participation in sports activities. Sports is often taken as a recreation engagement. All sports have rules and involve people. Soft skills extremely important for employment are developed through sports. People management, management of success and failure, time management, goal setting and strategizing etc. While it may not be an obvious linkage to employment, it provides experience useful in employment.

Whatever strategy you choose to take, remember, the skill and experience you learn from it shall be your stepping stone to the next level.

Many thanks to Jacqueline for her incredible insight. We hope that “The First Step” serves a useful resource as you begin your job search! Make sure to visit the Career Development Page to find advice and tips for how to start your next job search.

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