Excerpts from the Diary of a Young Scholar

CHEVENING1009ca
3 Kenyans win Chevening scholarships back in 2015. Image adapted from https://www.nation.co.ke/news/Christian-Turner-hands-top-UK–scholarships-to-30-Kenyans/1056-2865058-x8ah7vz/index.html

Mark sat in his study overlooking the sky blue sea on the Far East. His time in Sweden was almost coming to an end after completing his Master studies in Environmental Economics in a Swedish university. He was in Sweden for a two year Master scholarship.

Three years ago, Mark who hails from Kenya had tried in vain to secure a scholarship for further studies abroad. More than once, his friend Oketch had told him to stop wasting time applying for the so-called scholarships on the reason that competition is very stiff and few get to be accepted into the lucrative scholarship programmes.

Mark couldn’t believe he had come this far. He remembered one conversation he had with his friend Oketch back then about the scholarship that had just earned him a Masters degree.

It was one evening when Oketch got into the house and found his friend busy on the laptop. On taking a closer look, he realized his friend was busy digging up for scholarships on the scholarships for development website.

Oketch hissed,” Man! Are you serious you are still wasting your bundles on these scholarships stuff?”

“But why not?” Answered Mark. “It is worth trying; don’t you think?”

“Worth trying my foot! Oketch retorted.

“What’s the point of applying for these scholarships only to be given heart breaking regret emails? I will tell you these for free Mark and you can take it to the bank. The furthest you can go with these scholarship applications is that you will only get a partial scholarship that gets to foot your tuition fees but you will have to spend a lot on living expenses and accommodation from your own pocket. Poor you!” He added

Mark stared at Oketch wondering what had gotten into him that would make him so pessimistic. Still collected and unrattled by Oketch’s remark he told him off with a head shake and said, “Life is about choices and I will not choose to be limited by your limited mentality. I would rather try and thank God for the regret emails that come. At the very least, it will be worth noting that my application was received and underwent a competitive selection process rather than put my tail between my legs and cow off”

“Ha ha ha ha”, Oketch couldn’t control his laugher outburst. “You fool. So a regret email to you is what counts? And what is it you said you learn from the experience? Nothing at all.”

Mark had heard enough. Not able to hold his nerves anymore he made a u-turn landing on Oketch with a hot slap that sends him sprawling on the floor finally hitting his head on the bookshelf positioned nearby.

As if in solidarity with Mark, the bookshelf tilted a little and first let some books fall onto Oketch before coming after with a bang.  Oketch had lost the fight.

Still seething in anger, Mark packed his laptop and left the room as Oketch tried to finish the fight with a lifeless book shelf.

Mark retreated into a friend’s house applied for a Swedish Institute scholarship and luckily for him, there were no regret emails this time around. He left his motherland for Sweden six months after and the rest is history.

A knock on the door bolted Mark back to reality after strolling down the memory lane. It was Jenipher his course mate who had stopped by to check on him.

“Hey Mark, How are you fairing on?”

“Hmmm…I’m doing fine Jenipher, how about you?” Mark replied.

“I’m good but no offense you don’t look yourself today?”

Aaah not at all. I’m good I’m good….” Mark answered almost repeating himself a dozen times. “Would you like something to drink?”

“Sure! Do you have red wine?” asked Jenipher.

“Oh yeah,” Mark says as he heads over to the kitchen and emerges with two glasses of red wine and hands one to Jenipher with a beaming smile.

“So, what next for you? See, you have successfully completed your Masters! You must be the envy of many out there?”

Mark chirped.

“Ooh c’mon, I’m grateful for the comments but it’s not over for me yet. I want to pursue a Ph.D. That has always been my goal from the very beginning” Said Jenipher who hails from Puerto Rico

Mark did not see this coming. For him, many issues were eating into his mind right now and his thoughts shifted between moving back to Kenya, getting married and settling down with a family or pursue further studies in Sweden or the larger Europe.

“I just don’t know what’s next for me?” Mark who is 33 years of age replied.

I need to settle down with a family but I’m still trying to figure out what’s more important to me now between a family and a doctorate degree”

“Maybe you should first settle down Mark. You can always come back for further studies. There is never an end to learning. Don’t you think?’ Jenipher tried hard to help.

“I wouldn’t agree more Jenipher but you realize that a family comes with added responsibilities that call for financial stability on my side something I’m not sure about now. Reason being that my previous company gave me no guarantee of re-employment after the completion of my studies.” Mark cried

Take it easy! Mark. At least be grateful you have come this far. “Jenipher said

Besides, I believe the knowledge you have right now is invaluable and gives you the capacity to develop your country towards sustainable development goals. How about writing a business plan and work on a coming up with a social enterprise that will be line with SDG goal of eradicating hunger and poverty. You don’t need the money, you just need to present your ideas to the right people.”

The creases on Mark’s forehead seemed to disappear as he let his cheek muscles relax into an irresistible smile.

“Yes! You are now talking baby!” Mark shouted.

However, as much as Mark delightedly embraced the idea, he was not oblivious to the fact that the entrepreneurial journey is not for the faint-hearted but comes with a lot of hard work, persistence, the right strategy and the right team to work with.

That is something he would have to consider before delving further into the matter.

Well, the universe has a way of supporting and rewarding the dreamers and go-getters. According to the Law of Compensation- The Universal Law is the Law of Cause and effect applied to blessings and abundance that are provided for us. The visible effects of our deeds are given to us in gifts, money, inheritances, friendships, and blessings.

Mark came out of his victim stature and took life by the neck taking responsibility for every single action in his life having made the resolve that for anything to be it’s all going to be about him.

Mark is now the CEO of Daltic Agriculture, a non-governmental organization that works to eradicate hunger in the lives of small-scale farmers by offering consultancy  and soil testing services at affordable rates to help farmers ascertain their soil nutritional and pathological status thus able to make informed choices on what kind of fertilizers will meet their soils nutritional deficiency. Besides, the tests help identify soil born pests and diseases and offer suitable recommendations on what measures farmers could put to use to help treat and cushion their soils against diseases.

The organization is now in the process of training and equipping farmers with soil testing kits that will prove handy in enabling farmers sought out soil issues by themselves.

You alone will make that decision to chart your life forward no one else will.

If you feel encouraged like and share.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Amazing Ways to Overcome Sky-rocketing Unemployment Levels.

            

to-reach-2697951_1280
https://pixabay.com/en/to-reach-looking-career-job-sun-2697951/

                                

Yesterday, I slept quite late after overworking myself mercilessly with advanced excel formulas. Well, I hit the pass mark for the course anyway so I slept soundly like a well-fed cat. It is 2 years down the line since most of my peers and I finished college. Some opted to join missionary schools and give their lives to serving Christ. Some chose to work as teachers but not under the Teachers Suffering Center (T.S.C).Fate led them to the Board of Governors in individual secondary schools. By the way, I have lost count of my family members who are in the teaching profession. I highly commend them for the good work they are doing in giving a brighter future to our kids through education and training.

Others opted to go in search of online jobs. Lucky for some, their skills sold them to the highest bidder at a time when the freelancing industry was not yet competitive and had not been dominated by below standard writers. For some, they retreated to their hometowns and set up businesses. Unfortunately, for many who had not done business before, the chances of their businesses staying afloat was 0.00 and there was not much they could do to salvage their businesses because of financial constraints and lack of collateral to borrow bank loans.

Am yet to come across, those who have joined politics in this campaign season that will see Kenyans head to the ballot on the eighth of August. However, a few turned out to be a little mysterious by the fact that life appeared to be figured out for them yet one could not tell what business they run or form of employment they are in.

Finally, there is this last group of few individuals who chose to be scholars. Despite the numerous C.A.T.S, assignments, exams and final project one is subjected to for his undergraduate degree, they did not think of rest or finding work but slipped right away into Master Programmes.

After college, there were few phone calls wired to and fro; friends and former classmates calling and checking on one another. Interestingly, as the years went by the number of phone calls I have received personally have reduced and turned into occasionally “hi” text messages.

For the lovebirds on campus, am sorry to say their lovely and warm romantic lives faded into thin air after the fare thee well message from the chancellor. A few relationships survived the dynamics that came with finishing campus such as having to move from your hometown in search of a job in the city. Few relationships survived the economic hard times that come with finding a job for a graduate in Kenya.

It is actually frightening and discouraging when you meet a young man who finished college 3-5 years ago still struggling to make ends meet. He will not talk about marriage unless you mention it. Few a lucky to have their girlfriends by their side even when they have no stable source of income.

Despite the biting and harsh reality that meets graduate after college, not all is lost for the educated youth in Kenya. Many have been successful and are continuing to be successful by stretching beyond their limits through persistence and determination.

As you wait for that big dream job, here is a list of constructive activities you could do to make a difference in your life:

  1. Enrolling for a tertiary course

A degree is a percentage of knowledge the world has that confines you to a particular field or profession. One has to be exemplary good at what he chooses to specialize in, in order to sell out.  One good way of building your career is by enrolling and sitting for professional exams, enrolling in other short courses related to your major or can add value to your skill base. Time waits for no man, the sooner you identify a course the better.I am currently pursuing an online free course on Coursera. I have already earned my module 1 certificate for Business Metrics for Data-Driven Companies.I have just moved into my next module under Excel to MySQL analytic techniques for Business Specialization. Your given skill in writing, data analysis or graphic design could be monetized with persistence and determination to make you a better person financially.

  1. Network Marketing

In spite of the venture being received negatively in some quarters, a number of educated youths are making money by selling products such as weight losing tablets, skin care creams and other supplements that sustain and manage one’s health and diet respectively. The concept behind Network Marketing involves selling a particular product to a willing buyer and introducing them into the trade. The buyer X  enters into the network marketing chain under you the seller, opens an account with the network marketing company and hits the ground running by selling the same products and building a network of individuals under them called a team. Every individual on the chain earns money form his or her team members. The bigger your team and the more sales they make the more the money you earn.

     3. Online Jobs

“It is tiresome, brain-draining and energy-sapping,” my brother once mentioned this to me about academic writing. However, many youths, have opted into this venture rather than wear out their soles in search of unavailable low paying jobs. The few, I have talked to says it pays quite well in between ksh7000-10000 per week during peak seasons.

  1. Second-hand (Mitumba) Business

Not popular businesses for a degree holder but many youths have found a source of livelihood here. They sell an assortment of second-hand clothes including jeans, trousers, t-shirts, hooded jumpers, singlets and vests. No one can do without clothes. However, one needs to be careful with their display location as putting your stall or boutique where there is no human traffic might make you go hungry. One also needs to sell a variety of men and women second-hand clothes and not just border on one type of clothes such as t-shirts. One also needs to replenish his stock weekly to avoid customers losing their taste because of coming across the same pieces of clothes over and over.

  1. Hawking

With hawking, one can be sure of no less than Ksh.200 in their pocket daily. Hawking can be done on virtually any commodity including shoes, pens, snacks, pieces of clothing, foodstuffs. All said, this is another rare venture for graduates yet it can eke them a living as they wait for the big job to come by.

Read more5 Amazing Ways to Overcome Sky-rocketing Unemployment Levels.

Quandary of a Young Kenyan Graduate.

 

James Karagu, commonly known in close circles as Jemo, is a recent graduate from an institution of higher learning in Kenya; having pursued BSc. Statistics. Before finishing college and graduating James was upbeat about getting a job and being a respected man in society. Apparently, back then in campus, he was dating a beautiful woman from central Kenya by the nickname shiro. They were looking forward to get married immediately they completed their studies.

After their graduation, the two love birds parted ways with full of promises to one another to keep in touch and always make a point of meeting often. His girlfriend Shiro studied Journalism and Mass communication and looked forward to be a journalist with a reputable media company.

Jemo left for the city, Nairobi while Shiro left for central Kenya in Nyeri. However, after graduation and the joy of finishing school, all was not rosy as they had both anticipated. On arriving in the city, James settled at a friend’s place that was kind enough to accommodate him. His friend had finished college two years earlier and was making quite some good money in the city out of hawking. The money he earned could pay his rent, buy food and pay bills and afford extra coins to save and also sent to his mama upcountry.

 

Surprisingly, James friend, had studied Biochemistry back in college; but after “tarmacking” and job-hunting for one and half years, he resolved to be his own boss and give self-employment a try. Lucky for James, he had a friend who could shelter him as he went about in search of jobs. Every morning, James would wake up as early as 6.am but not as early as his friend who wakes up at 5 am to go about his business.

James would wake up, take a shower, neatly press his shirt and trouser and add on a blue tie compounded with shiny black shoes and head out in such of a job. He had drafted a mind- blowing CV, prepared academic certificates and any other arsenal that would sell him to the highest bidder.

On the other hand, her girlfriend Shiro, had tried her luck too in getting a job. Lucky for her, she secured a well-paying internship with a local radio station in Nyeri.They kept in touch with James as  two people who love one another usually do.

On the contrary, James was getting frustrated by the day. Some of his job applications went unanswered, and the future looked gloom and dark. His close friend was also beginning to feel the heat of hosting a jobless graduate.

Unemployment 1

One Monday morning, instead of heading out for the routine job- hunting, James chose to sit around and reflect upon his actions. He pondered at length whether searching for a job was worthwhile given the high number of graduates who were also hunting for jobs. He looked at his close friend and realized he was not formally employed with a white collar job and salary yet could make ends meet. James realized in that moment of reflection, a job was simply a temporal solution to a permanent problem. He needed to do something quick and fast going forward to be economically viable. A torrent of ideas started flowing into Jame’s head. Instantly and simultaneously, he thought of hawking, car washing, freelancing, blogging, mitumba (second-hand clothes) business.

After much deliberation, James opted to run a blog, given he had a laptop and could afford bundles for internet connection. However, that was never to start soon since James faced quite a number of options to prioritize from. Firstly, a financial firm had offered him a job with a pay  little less than what his hawker friend was taking home (ksh.35,000).The firm promised him room for career development, allowances and other benefits.

Enterpreneur

Secondly, his girlfriend from campus was getting restless and wanted James to make up his mind whether they were wasting time together in the name of love or what James was thinking about. Thirdly, an uncle of James back in the village had called him, and he wanted James to travel upcountry so that he could work as a cashier in his mini-supermarket. These options all presented themselves to John at the same time frame. It became quite difficult for John to know what path he should follow.

When his hawker friend, arrived back at home from an exhaustive working day, he found his friend James, frustrated and confused. James was spoilt for choice and did not know what was best for him.

Nevertheless, his friend was always there for him when he needed a sense of direction. James friend advised him to choose what was best for him at the time. In other words, James was told to put his priorities right. The conversation from the two men went for hours on end amidst short call breaks and water sippage to quench dry throats.

Unfortunately many graduates in Kenya today are in no position to make choices they wish they could make but only take what is given.

unemployment 2

On the contrary, all is not lost for young Kenyan graduates because James friend is a shining star against high rates of unemployment in Kenya today.

 

 

STAY ON TOP!!!

 

 

My Career My Choice

my career
road-sign-798176_1280
https://pixabay.com/en/road-sign-town-sign-success-career-798176/

Ever since the time you grew up, society conditioned you to view careers on a top to a bottom list; with the top being the best of careers while the bottom taking no credit. Conditioning came through when your parents would suggest a number of careers that appear or sound to be more prestigious; such as careers in medicine, law, economics, and engineering to name a few. Any other career, on the contrary, would not have appealed to them. The above-mentioned careers were considered and are still considered to be prestigious, worthy of honor and of a high social status. Careers in teaching, journalism, anthropology, policing, extension education would have and still brush some students the wrong way with their parents.
One big question I need to ask is; what parameters do you use to gauge or measure the value of a given career? Some measure a career in terms of how much it pays, some take pleasure in titles a career gives, some enjoy a given career because it makes them less of an office worker and more of a nomad worker. Some see the rate of career growth and networking as a factor. My point of concern is what would make a certain career more prestigious than the other? At the end of the day, everybody wants to make a living and make progress in their own individual lives. I am tempted to think social status is what determines the value of a career. No wonder careers in law, medicine, and engineering are highly placed in societies. This can be undoubtedly proven whenever national examination results are released especially in a country like Kenya. The top candidates that usually emerge in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations when interviewed over electronic and print media will proudly mention medicine, law or engineering as their dream career. Interestingly enough, no single candidate has ever been heard mentioning a career in agriculture, journalism, education and the like; notwithstanding that agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, doesn’t Kenya need more of agricultural experts to give technical advice on how to improve food production.

Kenya as a country has a development blueprint dubbed ‘Vision 2030’. It stands on three pillars of Social, Economic, and a Political pillar. My layman understanding is that by 2030, as a country we should be talking about development milestones on the three pillars. One thing you cannot run away from as an educated countryman is the fact that your economy thrives on agriculture, tourism, and industrialization. Methinks society has conditioned many of her offspring’s to view a career in terms of social status and honor rather than the need it can meet. As much as Kenya needs doctors and lawyers as a country, it equally needs agronomists, horticulturists, biologists, data analysts, social workers among other professions. The best of students should not only play the social status card but also try to add value to other well paying, national-building careers.

Sad enough is the fact that some Kenyans will never appreciate certain careers in this country. Careers in Kenya Police especially traffic, Kenya football especially the national team head coach. The head coach of the football national team is never spared either such that however much he tries to work to improve the performance of the national football team a single win among many loses won’t receive a single praise. However much he outshines his previous performance, Kenyans will still have a reason to point a finger.

While our Police force has been a sham ( extra-judicial killings, bribery, ghost police officers, controversial promotions)to the point of attracting the attention of an Independent Police Oversight Committee – IPOA, children should not be allowed to grow up feeling a career in the police force is for the losers in society. On the same knot, a career in football should not be viewed in a bad light by young job seekers. Kenya is no doubt proud of Victor Wanyama the Southampton midfielder who is moving to Tottenham Hotspurs next season for £ 11 million. Though a few of our players have made it to the international football arena, we are not to say that the chances for our players are dim.  I believe our good days in football are yet to come.

Your career is your choice, you know best where your passion lies. I encourage you to live your dream and be the best you were meant to be.