How These Six Nigerian Professionals Landed Their Dream Jobs (Culled from Kacheetee.com)

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I have been reading Kacheetee.com, a lifestyle blog run by Kachi, a first-class graduate Nigerian lawyer who also happens to be a Cambridge graduate. One of my favorite categories in her blog is one that features a day in the work Life of different professionals. In the features, the subjects write about how they start their day, how they get to work (by train, bus etc), what their job duties are,  how they got the  job, their typical day at work, the perks of the job etc. The subjects also share  what a person looking for a similar job should do to get into the field. I have provided links for each full feature underneath each excerpt.

Because the goal of our current project Intern Nigeria is to help job seekers, I have culled sections of the features relating  to how these professionals got their jobs. I encourage you to check out the full features because they are inspiring and show us where we can get to if we put our minds to our goals. I hope you enjoy the excerpts below as I did when I first read  them on Kachi’s blog.

The Automation Engineer: Osemhen Akhibi

I got the job by interning with the company when I was in school. They came to the university of Lagos (UNILAG) to advertise their assessed internship program. I completed a project in six months that I presented to HR and business representatives. I must’ve done a good job; I was literally recruited straight out of university. No exams. No interviews. I was pretty lucky. See the full interview here.

Program Analyst (Eliminating  Malaria) – Tiese Etim-Inyang

In college, I flip-flopped between economics and international relations as my degree choices, but finally settled on Psychology.

Then in 2013, three and a half years into my college, I went on my first service trip in the Dominican Republic. It was focused on health (specifically malaria and other mosquito-related diseases) education. I remember returning and thinking “I want to help prevent the spread of disease. I want to help so that fewer people need to go to a doctor for curative reasons.” That September, I signed up to add public health classes to my already tedious college schedule. Later, I studied Global Public Health for a master’s degree. It took eight months of searching after graduation but I eventually found a job in the same field.

I used LinkedIn to search for jobs and it’s how I applied for my current position. It was helpful that I was able to email my resume and cover letter to an actual person not just xyzcompanyhr.net. I noticed that this was when I was more likely to get interviews. For this job, I emailed my resume to my current supervisor and went through two stages of interviews via Skype where I was asked a lot of behavioural questions such as “what would you do in X job-related situation?” but also questions about my public health background and experience—which I always enjoy talking about. I don’t know if my passion, experience, or a combination of both got me the job but I’m still grateful for it. For the full interview click here.

Business/Communications Manager – Ufuoma Okumagba 

I got the job by being a sharp-shooter. I started out in the banking industry in Nigeria. I had completed an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance from Covenant University so a career in the bank seemed like a logical path to follow. I actually really loved working in Finance for the two years I was in Nigeria until I moved to Canada to pursue a Master’s Degree in International Business. After the program was done, I had to do an internship as it was a requirement for graduation and so the job search began.

Canada was a totally new environment for me and as an immigrant, I struggled at first to adapt to the new landscape. Even the “little” things like resume structures mattered a lot and as you can imagine, it was totally different from what was accepted in Nigeria. Once I got the hang of it all though, the interviews started coming in. A well written resume can really do wonders in the job market anywhere.

Anyway, one day I decided to sign up for a free trial of LinkedIn premium which lets you contact pretty much anyone on LinkedIn via Inmails. Of course there are etiquettes to using the Inmail and I knew all of those. After applying for the internship on the company site, I sent out a well-written message to the recruiter on LinkedIn (read: slid in the DMs). I found her name just by doing a simple LinkedIn search. It was pretty much hit or miss but at that point, there was really nothing to lose.

I sent a very enthusiastic message without coming across as desperate or creepy and it worked. The next day, she replied my message and booked me for an interview spot. I prepared for it, gave it my best shot and voila, I got the job.

A month after my internship was over, I got hired full time and fast forward to two years later, I was promoted to head the team I was working in. So, cheers to small beginnings, being faithful with the “little” tasks, staying grounded, and working hard. And of course, a big shout out to Linkedin’s premium feature, even though I canceled my free trial because it had already served its purpose. Click here for the  full interview. 

University Lecturer (& PhD Student) – Tega Ogbuigwe 

I studied International Business for both my bachelors and masters degree, at the United States International University Nairobi Kenya and the University of Surrey UK respectively. I had a first class in both degrees so it’s no surprise that I am a lecturer and pursing a PhD in the same field right?Seems like I perfectly crafted my career path right? NOPE! To be honest, after high school, I went on vacation then chilled around the house for a few months crafting plans on how to become a dancer and a model SERIOUSLY – in my defence I was 16. And then one day my dad said to me, “you’ve been accepted into this school to study international business”. I was like okay. Apparently while I thought I had been chilling doing A levels in some school, he had organised the entire admission process with them. I had no clue what it was or what it involved or what I could use it for afterwards. I was just happy to be in university.

Anyways fast forward to final year in University and I had just totally fallen in love with the concept of businesses investing in different countries and how the price of a product for instance, was not just determined by the cost of producing the product plus profit on top it. Things like cultural differences, regulations and polices became more significant and I was just intrigued. I had to know more and discover more and it was a no brainer to get a masters degree in the field.

After my masters in the UK I came back to Nigeria for my NYSC and shortly after that I got a job in a large agrochemical company working in HR. Though it wasn’t directly my field, it was related and I had a very good understanding on how things worked. To be honest, I could have easily built a career path, a very good one too, in that field but I just never felt quite settled in there. You know when you feel like, this is good but it’s not right? Yeah… that’s how I felt.

And then there was an advertisement for lecturers at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology in Nigeria. After talking to my dad and boyfriend (now husband) they thought it was a good fit for me, so I applied and interviewed for the position. That was the beginning of my journey as an academic and it truly is a good fit for me. 4 years into lecturing at the university, it was time to take the next step in my career which of course required a PhD so I was starting to write PhD research proposals and fill in applications.

When I tell people I am a Nigerian based in New Zealand they always ask why? Why did you choose New Zealand? My response is always the opposite; New Zealand chose me.

While I was planning to get a doctorate, my default search was Canada and the United States (I didn’t even bother with the UK because I had a bad experience during my masters research). I completed all the requirements, GMAT, ridiculous application fees, countless skype interviews and all the hops with these schools.

While I was waiting to hear back a friend of mine told about how NZ universities were more straightforward and “relaxed”. I think what got me interested was the word “relaxed”. Everything I had read about doing a PhD seemed like it was the end of the world so being in a generally relaxed environment seemed nicely different.

I did a quick google search on New Zealand and I was just hooked to my PC screen for the rest of the day. It was a beautiful place, nice people, beautiful weather. If I am going to spend the next 3 to 4 years reading and researching I might as well do it in a beautiful place right? Then I did a quick search for PhD’s in my field and my university popped up. It was a really nice surprise because in all my search for a PhD, I had never seen an actual PhD in International Business degree; most of them were either in management or something different with an international business component. So I was like “Oh God is this a sign“?

And then I opened the link – there was an advertisement for intending PhD students with lecturing experience and research interest in foreign direct investment to work with Victoria University and the government on policy implementation (almost like they had me in mind really).

They required a 7000 word proposal and the deadline was in 2 days. I don’t think I even read anymore after that. I closed the page opened Microsoft word and typed away without stopping until I reached the word limit (yo the hype was real). Sent in my application and forgot about it. To be honest I didn’t invest my heart in it because I knew my proposal was substandard. Anyways, 6 weeks later, I got an email inviting me for a skype interview and I was like OMG!!!!

I will tell you a funny secret. For the skype interview I wore a really nice work shirt and my hubby’s boxers (trust me it made me less nervous) and it wasn’t really an interview in my opinion, it was more like a chat between old colleagues. New Zealanders are indeed nice. From the interview I kind of had a feeling they were really interested in me. And one-week letter I got the offer. Research with the University and the government with lecturing hours included. PERFECT! The rest they say is history

Click here for the full interview

Audit Senior Manager – Dee Olateru

I started my career in the US with the same firm and I got the job when they came to recruit on campus at the University of Illinois where I was in the Master Program. Sounds easy right? No.

Allow me to digress a bit and give you the back-story.

So I finished my undergraduate degree and graduated with the equivalent of a first class but could not get a job that would sponsor me for an employment visa in the US. I had bills to pay and I don’t have time to cry so I took a job working in a factory making light fixtures. I was the most educated person on the floor and it took a while for my colleagues to warm up to the new ‘college kid’ but they did. Let me tell you, I got so strong physically my arms were #goals (move over Michelle Obama!). Normally, I’m the slowest eater you’ll ever meet but those days, I’d get home from work and demolish a huge serving of eba while my roommates would stare at me like… “who is this?” It was a lot of hard work but I know a thing or two about using tools and putting things together… don’t let the heels and suits fool you. In that time, I continued to apply to jobs, more than 500 applications later… nothing.

Then plan B kicked in: I’d apply to a Masters of Accountancy program (which I didn’t need) but I’d only apply to top 3 programs in the US (because, why not?). These schools had access to top employers and programs lasted one year. I applied, and thankfully got accepted with two offering scholarships. I was now in a place to choose but I’ll never forget how it felt receiving those letters/phone calls. Thank the Lord; because the kind of money the schools were asking for was way outside my economic bandwidth. I ended up at University of Illinois for my masters.

So, my current firm came to the University of Illinois campus to recruit. I attended their events, as did other students. This time, it was ‘get a job to head back to Nigeria’ for me. Good grades were not enough of a differentiator as there were lots of intelligent people in my class; it was like a brain convention. I attended the firm’s events and engaged with representatives. I did my homework in advance and followed up promptly. I also ate all the free food they offered at these events – no shame in my student budget game! I finally got the chance for an interview and three rounds later, while I was in my friends car leaving the last interview, I got the call with the offer.

It took a year at a factory plus an additional year in school to get there. This goes to say… stay the path. Some things take longer than you want or than you think you deserve. Others may seem to have it easier but everyone’s path is unique and there’s often a beauty to our struggles that we only see in retrospect. Cry, whine, sulk, but get up and ‘kick the sh*t out of Plan B!

My firm won a large global client – one of the largest in this industry in decades and there was a call for nominations for 4 people in the US with a specific skill set. I had no clue about this call for nominations. Thankfully, this was discussed at a regional partner meeting where three people (sponsors, God bless them!) thought about me and decided to see if I was interested for both personal and professional reasons. For me, this came out of the blue as it was at a point where I was considering other options within and outside the firm. I thought through it, talked with family and close friends and I said yes. I had one phone ‘interview’ and three months later on my birthday, I hopped on a flight to the U.K. Click here for the full feature.

Editor & Content Producer – Nicole Asinugo

I couldn’t quite articulate but always knew I wanted. I studied Law at University and I think I knew it wasn’t for me during my first Land Law lecture. I was genuinely paying attention but I couldn’t keep up with what the lecturer was talking about. I found all the terminologies exhausting and boring and I instantly wanted to change my course to something else. I was really good at English and Literature and History in my secondary school and A Levels but Law just felt really… bland.

After University, I knew I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t know where to start. So, I went for a course at London School of Journalism. However, that too didn’t feel like the right fit because it was very much about serious journalism and investigative reporting. I tried to like it but it didn’t do it for me. I came back to Nigeria and worked as a news writer at Channels Television for a year. It was an interesting experience but again in terms of my writing, I felt very limited. When you are writing about the news you can’t say ‘An eerie silence swept the room as the President addressed the crowd’. You have to say ‘The President addressed the crowd’. Done. No drama, no fun, no me.

And then, I watched Mad Men. And I saw that people created ads for a living and I thought ‘Oh my God, I can do that – that’s what I want to do’. My sister found out the agency that Mad Men was based off – DDB – had an office in Lagos. And the rest was history. After three years of copy writing at DDB, I had started blogging on the side. Being exposed to art directors, graphic designers and photographers really lit up a creative flare in me and I started creating cool content. I would send emails to magazines like Guardian Life and just give them content which they always happily published.

Then one day, my former boss at DDB told me Ndani TV was looking to start a lifestyle blog and asked me if I would like to interview for the role. My first interview was with the Head of Production and Creative Director of Ndani TV. The second and scarier interview was with the then Head of Corporate Affairs at GTBank and after a few days, I got a call, that I got the job.

It was really life changing for me because it was a management role (a major step up from my DDB days) and it was everything I felt like I was interested in on the side, but now I was getting paid to do it for real. Click here for the full future.

Comment: It’s amazing how technology: LinkedIn, Skype, Google etc helped these professionals get their dream jobs. These features also highlight how interning can help one get their foot in the door. Finally what can we do without family? Fathers and husbands in this  case. I hope you were inspired by these professionals like I was. I appreciate the hard work Kachi and these  professionals put into getting these features out. These excerpts are reproduced under the doctrine of fair use. The copyright  belongs to (c) Kacheetee.com. 

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