“When you are at university, the thinking as a student is that usually by the time your course ends, you will have all the skills and knowledge, well-equipped for service. However, that was not the case with me and I am certain it usually is not the case with many of us. The realisation that you are only partly prepared to face the world of work is not only disturbing but also shocking,” Priscilla Kyomuhendo, a digital finance personnel at Dfcu Bank, confides.
The transition from university into the job market and finally settling into the job can at times be challenging. To Benjamin Rukwengye, the founder of Boundless minds – a social enterprise, it took him two years after university to figure out how things worked and what was needed in the job market.
But other people take longer and others never get to figure things out. However, among programmes that have come up to bridge this transitional gap from university into the career world is the Boundless professionals.
The earlier the better
Ritah Kelly Agaba, a Human Resource Management student from Makerere University Business School, awaiting graduation shares her frustrations.
“I have been having trouble finding what to do and things seem really tight in the job market. So, when I learnt about an opportunity that would help me with this transition while it equips me with relevant skills needed in the market, I went for it,” she says adding: “I want to know what I am supposed to be doing in this transition. I have for example done project management before but projects are set up, and they fail, so I thought, maybe there is something more that I should know or do but have no idea what it is.”
A few weeks into the programme, Agaba is more confident that this is what she needed. “There is a big difference in the way I do things now. I used to be the kind of person who had one application letter for all the job opportunities I applied for. Here, we have been taught about doing background research but also how to write a CV. I went back and put that in practice, applied in two different places, and they have both responded,” she shares adding,
“I am more confident about myself now. Although I have done presentations before, but the ones we do here are way more informed and researched and that this knowledge will help me as I go on in my career. Additionally, researching about what is actually going on in my profession is among the things the programme majors in, and now I am more informed about what actually is happening, the challenges around this field and what solutions I can offer in the event that someone hires me,” Agaba says.
Find your passion
Furthermore, students are encouraged to discover what they are passionate about and how they can use their professions to further their passion. Ernest Akorebirungi is a mechanical engineering finalist at Makerere University who has found his passion in media-related work.
“At the realisation of the importance of doing something outside academics because life is beyond just school and I knew that this programme would help steer my energies in the right direction,” he says.
“Though I am studying engineering, I like the media and writing and to me, this programme is a journey that will help me know how I can link the two. Among the topics emphasised on the programme is time management and in that is prioritising. So, having discovered my passions, I have started figuring out; I can for example be an engineer in a publishing company. I can work on new technologies that are coming up in the media thus using my passion to further my career,” he adds.
In a bid to understand how differently the programme imparts skills away from what happens in the classroom, Christine Kabazira, a third year journalism and communication student from Makerere University, notes that the programme puts student participation at the centre.
Additionally, it is not a ‘one size fits all’ programme since every individual comes with a passion which is nurtured and developed over time. Students are also put in groups that hold similar or related interests and thus, can develop each other.
“This career programme gives you practical skills about what you are already learning. They for example asked us to do a project proposal that solves problems we identified in our professional fields,” Kabazira says.
“The thinking and effort and connections you put in are not the same as when you are in school. And as far as my career pursuits, I think I am already getting helped through this,” she adds.
Rukwengye further shares that the programme blends two aspects; professional growth and entrepreneurship. “It runs for 10 weeks during which we help students find what they are passionate about, develop ideas after identifying community challenges and then get working solutions that are practical and can be implemented. So through this process they are learning about work ethics, professional development, and planning, among others,” he says.
By the end of 10 weeks, the students would have been equipped to either be successful entrepreneurs because they have learnt the fundamentals or be brilliant professionals and succeed at work because they have also learnt the fundamentals.