Akpan! Akpan! Akpan! I turned around in discomfort and squinted to check the time, my aunty has started her usual complaints about my laziness and how all I do is sleep and eat her food. My morning routine usually includes getting her children ready for school, scanning through emails to see if anyone has responded yet, then heading out to the streets to engage in small business deals to at least have some change in my pocket. After that I would hover around, go to offices, some let me enter, some don’t, then drop off my CV. I left Ikot-Ekpene to Lagos with the hopes that I would have better opportunities here and maybe land a secure well-paying job to kickstart my life. Honestly, sometimes, I feel like a waste of space, everyone around is tired of me being a full dependent; I am also tired. I am willing to work but the opportunity is not even there.
I did everything right, studied hard, passed my WAEC and NECO exams, proceeded to university, graduated with a second class upper, my recommendation letters from my lecturers are impressive. It’s been four years since I graduated from university, I still live on my aunt’s couch, I have nothing to show for myself, in all honesty, I am tired. I have sent my CV everywhere, I do not know what in the world is wrong with me. Am I cursed? For God’s sake, I have even travelled far and wide to attend these interviews. It gets so frustrating and gloom you know? This is not the dream I was told when I was younger. At this junction, I am super frustrated. My anxiety levels are high, just 2 days back my niece asked me for 400naira to pay for her taxi and I could not afford it- 400-naira o. It’s like sometimes there’s a glimmer of hope when I get called for these interviews and then it ends in disaster, they don’t call me back. How can a big boy like me? A full-fledged graduate be on the roads, doing petty jobs to stay afloat?
The other day, I saw an old friend from University, we were both struggling for jobs after our Youth Corps. I was making small talk with her trying to find out what she has been up to. I just wanted a life update, she insisted I go first. My story of unemployment and trials and tribulations was even beginning to sound like a broken radio in my own ears; well I indulged her, I told her the emotional, psychological and mental toll unemployment had taken on me. She was very sympathetic towards my plight and I inferred she had landed a decent job. She asked about my skillset, qualifications, my CV presentation, my networking skills, if I had any extra certifications so many ‘irrelevant’ questions. In my head, I was like Bisi what is all this rubbish you are saying and how do they matter to me? I said I have my degree and I need a job.
Bisi patiently sat me down and walked me through the importance of certain factors and how they work together to ensure you gain better ground and stability in the job market. I listened with rapt attention as she told me about how just a year ago, she was in the headspace I was; broken, devastated and unemployed. Her life was not panning out the way she had aspired she decided to do something different was able to educate and inform herself on how to go about rebranding herself to meet potential clients. Not like I had anything to lose from following her advice on repackaging myself. I took some tips from her, did follow-ups, networked more, took online courses for certifications and attended seminars and workshops. The quality of my life has improved. I’m currently stuck in traffic headed to my place of work, so indeed I was not cursed, I was just doing things the wrong way.
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