You graduated from university five years ago with good grades. You have yet to find a job. It’s not your fault. I have been there. But then you heard about your former classmate who has a nice-paying job and other money-making side-hustles. How did he do it? Why does he have multiple sources of income and you have none? In this post, I will give you ideas on how to leverage the opportunities you already have, opportunities you previously neglected, to get you going. And here is where it gets good, once you get busy, people trust you more and give you even more responsibilities–you establish multiple streams of income.
Ike’s and Silvia’s Stories
I started writing this post about a month ago when a former classmate told me how well another former classmate of ours, Ike*, was doing. A young attorney, Ike has a successful law practice in Abuja. Besides his day job, Ike is also a Special Adviser to a State Government in Nigeria. When he gets home from his law practice where he wears a suit and a tie, Ike puts on casual clothes to visit work sites where he acts as a supervisor. For this third job as a supervisor, Ike is contracted by busy businessmen who have ongoing building construction projects but cannot make out time to monitor day-to-day progress at the sites. Ike uses his training as an attorney to ensure that workers comply with the building plan, resources are not wasted, and deadlines are met.
The same weekend I heard about Ike’s success, I ran into Silvia and was even more inspired by how well she manages her time juggling multiple jobs. Silvia* has a demanding job as a top manager in a private firm. Silvia also has a real estate investment that requires as much attention as a full-time job such that some investors with a portfolio as big as hers employ resident managers for the sole purpose of managing the properties. In addition, Silvia teaches three classes in a State university. Silvia is also currently studying for her Ph.D program. Lastly Silva is the primary care-giver to her two kids. Though she no longer does, just a few years ago, Silvia also had another teaching job for her Saturdays.
Why You Need to be Successful
While having multiple jobs may make a work-life balance harder to achieve, it has its upsides. When you diversify your sources of income, you can do many things you cannot otherwise do with limited resources. You can upgrade from shopping at Ross to Nordstrom. You will have sufficient fund for medical bills and legal bills. (As unfair as it sounds, health can be bought, and justice can be bought; ask Lamar Odom and O.J. Simpson.) Further, when you have enough money, you can send your kids to best private schools around and set them up for a great start in life. Most important, when you become rich, you are able to touch several lives. (Even if he had good intentions, the good Samaritan will not be known today if couldn’t take that wounded traveler to the hospital because of lack of money.) Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are able to fight and eradicate diseases around the world because of the enormous amount of resources at their disposal.
Start Somewhere, Get Busy
You don’t have a job so that sounds like a good reason to stay at home all day binge eating and netflixing. The key to getting started is to get busy, occupy your time with something productive, however small.
For example, I find that volunteering has a way of opening hitherto closed doors. If you are looking for a teaching opportunity, walk to that primary school close to your house and tell the principal that you want to volunteer in his school. It’s more likely than not that he will find something to keep you busy. When you volunteer with an organization, you have a higher chance of getting employed when a paid opportunity opens up than outsiders who are not familiar with the organization’s culture. I once volunteered with an organization and months later, when they were hiring, they first contacted those of us who volunteered with them to see if we were interested in the position before offering it to outsiders. Also I read a story by a Nigerian girl of how, when she was unemployed, she started volunteering with two hospitals in Lagos as she was in the medical field. With time, one of the hospitals was hiring and offered her a full time job. She said that while she may have “wasted” transport fares in those early days as a volunteer, commuting to both jobs, what she makes now more than compensate for the “lost” time and money. Had she been at home sitting on the couch, she said, she will still be unemployed.
What Do You Have in Your Hands?
In a post by this title, Toby Nwazor writes about how though he had always loved writing, he studied engineering at the university because of the misconception that intelligent people study sciences. After graduating, he got jobs in his field but was never quite successful. A question by his pastor asking him what he had in his hand, a natural talent, an allusion to Moses’ encounter at the burning bush, prompted him to go back to writing. He is now a freelance writer, happy and fulfilled. Before now, he didn’t believe he could make money writing. Sometimes, tapping into your natural talent can take you to places where you can never dream of going with your 9-5 job. Find out what you already have in your hands.
If you are unemployed, you are in a good position to find out where your talent lies. Because of the free time on your hands, you can try out your passions, interests, etc and see where they lead you. If you are an artist, draw a popular musician and tag him on social media. They take notice and share it on their wall, and bingo, you are getting calls from prospective clients. If you love writing, you can sign up an account with Wikipedia and pitch to Nigeria celebrities and businesses, who are notable but are not on Wikipedia. Offer to create a page for them. If you have an aunt or uncle whose business will do better with an online presence, help them set up social media accounts to advertise their products. As you are starting out, be open to doing this for free with hope that these first customers will refer future clients to you. Linda Ikeji, BellaNaija and Sisiyemmie worked hard long years before their passions turned into multi-million naira businesses. If you can’t think of anything to keep busy, follow your mum or dad to work; it doesn’t matter if it is at Main Market or Ariaria. Just get busy.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
On my Facebook page, I see wonderful posts from my former classmates and I am amazed at what they create (edible dollar note on a cake etc.,) that I share it to my friends. If you are reading this, you probably clicked a link you saw on my Facebook page. It’s my way of advertising my blog. And it has been rewarding in some ways. If you are creating something, share it on social media. It takes just one viral post and you are made. Olajumoke, the bread seller, is a case in point. Besides other endorsements she has, she just go a free five-year lease for a luxury apartment in Lagos. Though her story is more of a case of being at the right place at the right time, it shows how powerful social media can be.
The pictures above are works of two Nigerian artists, Chijioke Anyacho (paints with ink), and Oresegun Olamide (his artworks look real). In the past few months, both of their works went viral through the power of social media.
After his work went viral, Olamide was featured on CNN. CNN said “The hyperrealism created in the oil paintings makes his work seem so life like that it is hard to believe they aren’t.” What bigger advertisement does one need? I’m sure he can no longer keep up with demands for his work.
And Chijioke, who chronicles his journey on his Facebook page said his painting with pen was an accident. According to him, one day, he was waiting for his drawing materials to arrive and a thought came to him, “Why don’t you start with what you have?” He had a pen with him and he started drawing with it. Today his work is featured in other countries including South Africa. He has distinguished himself as an artist who can create incredible artwork with mere ball point pen. He recently finished a portrait Tinubu commissioned him to draw. Here’s what Chijioke posted on his Facebook page when his work first went viral:
“Friends please join me to thank God…..even if you don’t believe in God, just join me and thank Him….I am overwhelmed…I am blown away by what is currently happening to me right now…. THIS IS A MIRACLE. I just can’t explain this……it’s bigger than I ever dreamt.
I slept around 5am this morning…..from 3am till i slept i was responding to messages and notifications on Facebook and i kept saying to myself…
“i can’t believe this” Even as i write this, i am still saying “i can’t believe this”..
Friends this is beyond my widest imaginations….
Magazines from across Africa wants to feature me….
Television interviews are warming up…
Blogs are requesting….
Calls are streaming in…
NGO’s are indicting interest to work with me…
I can no longer handle my Facebook messages….its pouring in like rain…
I keep asking myself, what exactly did I do….what is it that I am doing? Wetin I do oooooo I no even sabi draw reach some people sef.
I AM SPEECHLESS OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
This is just crazy…..i am lost for words….
I had to call my Uncle(who’s my guardian) to express my speechless…he gave me the needed support when I started….way back when I was offline…
Friends request is streaming in as if am a public figure…
Request for my work is even surpassing what I can handle..
Last week I was just a nobody…..last week I was begging someone to have my work for a 60%discount…today my work has appreciated and its 3x the amount I was begging the guy for. And its reviewing itself to meet up.
You can only get this once in a life time intense feeling of euphoria if you get busy. And the good thing is once you get your big break, you can maximize the opportunity to further diversify your income. For example, besides selling his artwork at exorbitant prices, Chijioke can get gigs as a motivational speaker, get endorsements from bic, write a book on how social media can help a brand, etc.
Don’t envy him. You can do it too, just stop playing candy crush.
P.S:* Minor details changed to protect identity of real persons.