By Tare Youdeowei
After graduation, what next?
Straight off the bus from school with immense energy, a graduate from the ivory towers in Nigeria might be at loss when it comes to deciding what to do next. The general trend is to imagine yourself dazzling a job interviewer and securing a N250, 000 paying job. Getting a nicely furnished apartment in the choicest part of town and driving a nice set of four wheels, usually come next in the picture, followed immediately by purchasing land and building a petite mansion, for modesty sake, that’s if owing a business is not the main picture. Well, it’s easier pictured than got.
The appropriate thing, as constructed by the Nigerian environment, is to get professional qualification, where applicable and gather experience. No matter how little the pay attached is; the goal is to look attractive to high paying recruiters.
There is, however, one unique way to stand out of your peers, and still impact the world around you. Volunteer. This method of experience gathering via selfless effort is said to be eye catching, not just to the high paying Nigerian recruiter, it also tickles the fancy of multinational recruiters.
Here, a 2013 graduate of Guidance and Counselling, University of Lagos, Miss Folarin Oluwatosin, reveals her experience with volunteering in an interview with Vanguard. She is currently holds the Voluntary Service Overseas 2016 National Youth Award, as she implores Nigerians, particularly youths, to imbibe the culture of volunteering so as to make our society, state and nation, a better place.
Volunteering is about giving back to the society. We all complain about how messed up the system is; what we do not realise is that we can make a little change through the things we do. You don’t really need a lot of money to help people because rendering services goes a long way to make positive change in our environment. People in developed countries know the importance of giving back to the society; they know the importance of making a change that’s why they volunteer. This is as opposed to Nigeria where we are always interested in money. It is not all about the money; yes money is important, but it is not everything.
As a young graduate, I do not see money as something I should run after; there are aspects one needs to develop first. Most important is personal development, which is got from volunteering. When this is in place, money will run after you.
Why Nigerians hardly volunteer?
I think it all boils down to our society. The society’s orientation is that people should always have money; you should always go after money, regardless of what you do to get it. This has made a lot of persons evolve into ruthlessness. This needs to change so the nation can move forward.
I volunteered overseas with ICS; International Citizen Service.It is a British owned NGO that brings people together to volunteer. They are currently in over 20 countries and their focus is eradicating poverty. They also work in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Developmental Goals, SDG.
I volunteered in Ilesha, Osun State. We helped develop the area in terms of farming. This involved training students on farming, as well as enlightening farmers on how best their business can grow. We also did programmes on malaria eradication for students, gender violence, the power of a girl child, in addition to ICT skills training.
Volunteering for Nigeria
Nigerians can key into volunteering. Any act that can bring about positive development in our society in terms of education, health, environment, gender equality, should suffice. For instance, in the community you live, you might have noticed that one or two things are wrong, there is nothing stopping you and a few friends from finding a solution to it.
You can also have a small circle of people come around and you enlighten them about HIV\AIDS and other pertinent issues in the society. At moment the Volunteer Service Overseas is recruiting. Anyone who is interested can go online and apply. There is also YALI, Young Africa Leadership Initiative, as well as several other volunteer platforms that Nigerians can key into.
Nigerian youths should know that it’s not all about sitting back and waiting for the government to make everything happen. We can start from the people around us, the community, to make a change because a little act of service will go a long way to make a positive change.
Work for free
Another form of volunteering involves working for a time in organisations to gather experience and help inform decision making as regards career choice. Ibi Mboto, who currently works with the Ministry of Justice as a full staff, implores parents to support their children who choose to volunteer.
Why work for free
Before I settled for paid employment, I worked in four law firms. My aim was to gain experience, meet people and build professional relationships. The fact that I had volunteered heightened my chances at the ministry. Basically it helps employers see if a prospective employee is employable within the organisation.
Working for free, basically, is about knowing what you want and knowing how to get there. From my experience with volunteering with law firms, I knew I wanted to work with the ministry of justice.
The way to go about volunteering is to have a clear road map on how you want to get to your dream career, and then volunteer in the area that will best suit you to learn and gather experience as regards your goals. Upon gaining experience you can know better if you want to pursue working in that organisation or take that career path.
Whether volunteering for work or charity, know that it is giving service for free, either way you get experience from providing your best service. Volunteering is essentially the best way to start life.
Parents, give your children the opportunity to gain experience and make informed decisions about their life. Volunteering should not just start after university; it should start in secondary school. I say this because a child who volunteers in different organisations will have a better picture of the career he will like to pursue.
It will wipe some presuppositions he might have held about a chosen career. For instance, a child who thinks lawyers are all rich, will come to realise that it is not so for all lawyers, especially young lawyers. If one goes into the profession solely to make money and not out of passion, he will be disappointed.