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Bridging The Gap Between School and Employment

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By Tanya Maswaure

Graduation seasons are always so exciting. Caps are thrown in the air, walking across the stage, and photoshoots of happy, successful candidates ready to use their education in the working world. Excitement is in the air, yet behind every smile and cheer, there is an internal question in the mind of each graduate: What now?

Although the answer may be easy for others, some are still battling with finding their next step and how to move forward; this applies to graduates and students everywhere. According to UN statistics, by 2020, the global unemployment rate will reach 6.5 per cent, up 1.1 percentage points from the previous year. The number of people unemployed worldwide increased by 33 million, reaching 220 million. This number increase is worrisome, especially in specific regions such as Africa and Asia, where the unemployment rates are rising. Therefore, the question is, how do we transition well and as efficiently as possible into the work world?

After speaking to academics, students, and employees, Amazons Watch compiled some insightful comments and key messages from these interviews as follows:

“Be proactive”, “Persevere”, and “Set your priorities straight.”

A lecturer of  Media studies and Journalism in South Africa, explained that the first step is communicating what you can do. As a student, you have already accomplished a lot and imposter syndrome can sometimes bring you down, but that is not the best mindset to have now. “Sometimes it is a matter of looking at where you want to go and finding out what you can do for them”, she explained further, “be ready to embrace the opportunity and keep upscaling yourself”.

Samuel Sasu Adonteng communicated a similar message. Samuel is currently working as a Programmes Officer (Tertiary Education) and leader at the All Africa Students Union in Ghana, but he also continues to climb the academic ladder. He is working hard on his Master’s and attained a job straight after graduation. He says he did that through volunteer work. “My first and second year was all about my grades, and I realised I was not happy about just making good grades, but I was more enthused by what my academics can do outside of campus”. He located his talents and began volunteering with several organisations, which made his transitions easier. “Volunteering where you want to work is a great opportunity to learn what is ahead before graduating.”

Lebohlang Dhlamini is a South African residing and working in France. She expressed that although it is exciting to have financial independence, it can also be terrifying at the same time because too much of anything can be dangerous. “The anxiety of going for interviews and waiting for a response is something no one is ever prepared for”, But there are lessons that come with it, including “time management, money management and the ability to adapt.”

Miranda Chimbo, a master’s graduate from the University of East London, agrees with Lebohlang and emphasises time management. “Learn how to manage your time and control your environment. Do not become overwhelmed and avoid burnout”. Miranda further explained that time management is essential for finding and keeping a job.

Even with all this in mind, students worldwide still witness their peers struggle and know it is not always easy. “Even though I have not graduated, I know that the transition is bumpy. It’s scary thinking about how you may not get what you worked so hard for.” Racheal, an International student in France, explained. Chelsea from Canada also has the same concerns about getting a job and how difficult it would be, but she trusts in her faith; “All I can do is apply, work and do what is humanly possible, and the rest I leave it to God.”

Munya Maguwudze, a lawyer and Masters’s graduate from Zimbabwe, agrees with Chelsea on doing everything humanly possible, but she emphasises doing it all at the right time. She advises first to be organised and not to start off by thinking of a paycheck so early. “Also, if you want to go for the master’s route, do it as soon as possible before starting a family.” She elaborated. “Remember girls, don’t ever feel pressured and don’t rush to get married. Some men bring down women on their way up, so always be careful when you get the job,” she warned.

After these conversations, it feels like we have a lot more control of our futures. Although the struggle indeed remains, it has been suggested that perseverance, proactiveness, and priorities might help control and ease your transition. It has been done before and can be done again. Amazon’s Watch wishes all the graduates and students the very best in the future.

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