It always feels good to have unemployment out of your daily worries, but earning that job security may not come to you immediately after National Service. Unemployment is an alarming issue in Ghana. The situation has resulted in a high number of unemployed graduates in Ghana. Gone are the days when companies would stand in line, waiting at the Central Cafeteria of the University of Ghana, to register final year students after their last paper. A handful of CEOs bemoan the non-performance of graduates, as they attribute it to lack of working experience. However, the CEO of Beige Capital has chimed that “jobs dey, but boys no dey”. In juxtaposing the dichotomy, the bottom line is that, get your hands ‘dirty’ with volunteering or internship work before getting employed. This article shares my internship experience and other tips relevant to excel in the job market and other entrepreneurial endeavours.
Graduates need a reorientation of their focus on looking for jobs instead of careers. Job seekers are after the income they earn from work and the jobs undertaken may not be of utmost interest. Career professionals love their work and go the extra mile doing tasks beyond the minimum job description. Even though the salary may be unsatisfactory at the beginning, career professionals are able to develop skills and build expertise in an industry, opening doors to juicier offers in the future. Developing a career path includes identifying jobs one is passionate about within an industry, with long-term and consistent development opportunities.
A job may be a means to an end, but a career is mostly a vocation that ensures the benefits of fulfilment. I know it intrigues Human Resource professionals when they read CVs of candidates who have been secretaries, teachers, bankers, etc. all within a period. We have to keep it in mind that we cannot be a jack of all trades. It is best to speak with a career counselling professional to help you identify a career that suits you. When you seek jobs (and not careers), you are easily swayed by how ‘big’ the offer will be for the new job.
Being social media savvy, I chanced on a tweet by West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) for the role of Social Media Assistant. WA BiCC is a USAID regional program that aims to improve conservation and climate-resilient, low-emission growth across West Africa. The 5-year program works with partner institutions to combat wildlife trafficking, improve coastal resilience and reduce deforestation, degradation and biodiversity loss.
Even though the internship position was unpaid, I was motivated to join the team. I underwent extensive reflection, assessment and consultation to understand how the internship will fit into my career goals. I conducted background checks on the company, and its role in providing environmental service was of interest to me. I prepared my pitch document, CV and other required documents and submitted my application. I was invited for an interview and I was confirmed for the role.
Internship with a USAID project has exposed me to valuable professional and diplomatic experiences. I worked with a team of communication officers and specialists from Ghana, Liberia and the US, tapping into their rich professional expertise. In the line of my duties, I had the opportunity to coordinate with partner institutions like the Tetra Tech ARD, Palladium Group, PCI Media Impact, Pact World, Abidjan Convention etc.
The role offered a sense of innovation and responsibility with little or no supervision. I had the opportunity to volunteer other skills like teamwork, problem-solving skills, translation, taking minutes at meetings and contributing to presentation drafts to other departments at the office.
I worked to promote social media outreach to raise public awareness and mobilize action to end illegal wildlife trade, increase coastal resilience to climate change. I participated in other events such as the Advanced Regional Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking for Judicial Officers and Prosecutors in Togo, World Pangolins Day, Social Media and Photography Training for the Abidjan Convention, World Wildlife Day in Sierra Leone, Conference of Parties (COP12), Abidjan Convention, Earth Week and Earth Day celebrations, etc.
I was invited to facilitate a mentorship program by Ahaspora where I shared my internship experience with participants.
Internships have proven to be an annex ‘academy’ that introduces people to the world of business. Opting for the right internship will add value to one’s professional worth and career development.
Article by Sylvester Kwame Osei, a siro360 contributor