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What Does It Mean To Be A Graduate In Nigeria?

What every undergraduate wants more than anything is to graduate from the higher institution, in which they are currently studying in but, they do not fully grasp the new world that is awaiting them ahead. When I was an undergraduate I always pictured how life as a graduate would be like, I even fantasized about how perfect my life going forward would be, I would be a fast-rising professional in my field. Though I knew things would not come easy, I always felt I would have enough time to accomplish my set goals, I was a strong believer of “those who have a plan, will always prevail”, I did not account for the external factors that may have affected my plans. As an undergraduate, you are some worth given the room to make mistakes, without much criticism but, as a graduate things start to change, you become a man or woman of your own. The way everyone starts to look at you is different, even you start to look at yourself differently, every hour starts to matter.

The legal age is ‘18years’ or some may say ‘21years’ but, that may not apply in all circumstances here in Nigeria because at these ages most youth are still in school, we have graduated at the ages of; 25, 27, 28, and so on. Some fend for themselves, and we also have those of them who still rely on their parents for financial support, all these changes drastically when they become graduates. Financial independence is the dream of every child when they have free room to do as they please. Financial freedom is a good thing but, the timing sometimes can be unexpected, some parents do not wait till their children get well-paying jobs before they stop supporting them financially, while some wait till when they are called for the NYSC (National Youths Service Corps) program. At first gaining financial independence may be hard, I remember when mine happened, I was almost overwhelmed. As an undergraduate, I did some freelance jobs, which served as a mini source of income, I still collected monthly allowance from my father so, gaining my financial independence changed everything. I was now financially in charge of everything I wanted or needed from my feeding, to my clothing and even daily expenses, this was quite strange at first, though I always tagged myself as a calculated spender, before becoming a graduate I always had it at the back of my mind that I would always be bailed out of any financial trouble I got myself into. Manning up was not an option, I had to think carefully about any financial decisions I now made, I would find myself thinking twice before purchasing most things more than I usually did before.

When you are a new graduate, your decision-making skills are put to the test, you have to be sure before making any decision because, now, these decisions have lasting effects. One of these decisions is one’s career path, right from secondary school we find students Channing their future professions almost every year, as they get admitted into the higher institution, their career path begins to become more streamlined, a permanent decision may not be made until they have graduated. I remember the week after I had finished my final exams, my father called me into his room and asked what were my future plans, I had always said I wanted to be a ‘marketer’ so, I did not expect him to ask such a question. There was a different tone in his voice, I could tell this was more than what I wanted to become, he asked me all my skill sets, in which I answered to the best of my knowledge but, he was still not convinced, he asked why would I limit myself to just being a marketer and that I should go and carry out some research then he would ask me about the outcome of my research the next day? I was quite puzzled it felt like I did not know what I want, back then in school “I marketed housing and accommodation services, and I was good at it”, “I also wrote a few contents for some upcoming brands, and they loved it”, what was the actual problem? I said to myself. After surfing the internet for a while, I went to seek advice from my senior brother, after explaining to him, he stayed quiet for a few seconds then said to me, “why don’t you try digital marketing?”, I came about it a while back though, it did not truly appeal to me but, on hearing my senior brother all the pieces started to fit together, I had found a way of taking my offline marketing skills to the next level, the next day I pitched the idea to my father and since then, he has supported me every way through. Sometimes graduates choose their career paths based on what they studied in the higher institution also some choose a path based on other skills they learned elsewhere or even their passion. I know of a person I met last year who studied psychology at the university and at the same time also took classes on photography and video editing during the weekends and now his career path is that of a videographer. Another example I always like to use is that of my coursemate whom we both studied business administration in the university together but, he had the passion of sports and then trained to be a sports journalist, then also added videography to his arsenal, look at that switch, though we could say his knowledge as a business student would have him make strategic decisions.

We have different challenges that graduate face in the country but, there is one I have come realize even though it can be termed as being a personal challenge. A surprisingly large number of graduates compare their achievements with that of their peers, some even measure their accomplishments based on the current or past standings of their peers. This could be a form of motivation, though most times it leads to envy and self-doubt, I believe everyone runs his or her race by themselves, though our paths may cross with the lanes of other people. Social media is one of the fastest ways of spreading information and in doing that we can see to an extent, according to what is shown, graduates can see how their peers are doing financially, emotionally, and business-wise, not everyone will feel genuinely happy for their peer’s success and even if they are truly happy for them, they may still feel the pressure to also succeed. Every day, people showcase their affluence on their social media accounts, and they have the right to do so, after all, they worked for their money, these same people have peers who may not yet be able to achieve such status. As a graduate, coping with this within their surroundings may be hard for some, they sometimes refuse help from their peers or do. Or even go to them because, of pride either from seeking capital to finance their business ideas or even work for their peers and get paid, eventually they remain in the same financial crisis.

The hurdles graduates face in Nigeria can be sometimes more than they expected, they have to survive in a new world they are truly prepared for. Some refer to this works as a ‘jungle’, in which only the fittest can survive.

Countributor: Titilope Agbaje
Phone number:07053646828
LinkedIn: Titilope Agbaje

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