I visited Awka (capital city of politically popular Anambra state) for the first time about 3 years ago on the invitation of a group of final year students of different departments who felt they needed tips on how to survive out there and possibly position themselves through ICT opportunities. It was such an interesting experience for me, and I looked forward to my next invitation from that side of the country. After many date searching efforts, the opportunity came again. This time from AfriHUB, the campus-located telecenter that empowers youth (in the schools where they presently operate) with world-class ICT training. They had developed a new program called CaTalk and I was to be the Keynote Speaker for their May edition.
I arrived Enugu at about 10:30am on Thursday and was met by Rex Abitogun (the young man that manages the CaTalk series and a friend). We made our way to Awka (which doesn’t have its own airport at the moment) through the AfriHUB center located at the Enugu campus of the University of Nigeria and arrived after a little over an hour. What I saw when I arrived was attention-grabbing: over 200 young people waiting in the packed room, taking up all the available spaces, and obviously ready to soak in as much knowledge as was available. After a noteworthy presentation by Izu (one of the presenters who works with a bank in Awka), it was my turn to offer what I had for the students.
Just before I started my presentation, I was reminded that the audience was only half of the people who indicated their interest in participating and that the other half would be at the same venue on Friday, to get their own share. It was fun, challenging and inspiring to share thoughts with the group on what I called, Ripples from Enugu. Beginning with telling my personal story of transition from final year into the next few years, I brought them face to face with the reality of the need to prepare ahead of jumping out of school as a graduate. The need for a personal SWOT analysis was discussed — and I must say that one of the participants has sent me what (s)he considers her Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, which we are now discussing.
The need to be honest enough to identify weaknesses and threats would help such individual to identify training needs — or simply areas that need attention. I also brought to the fore, the need to see competition in its real terms. Not forgetting to talk about the difference between a career and a job, I used the triangle to explain the different levels that we all occupy over time as we move from school to desired destinations. The high point of both sessions came when I announced that, “if many undergraduates continue the way they carm, pass and forget (CPF), they will dead on delivery on graduation.” We looked at the statistics ofour environment and came to a conclusion that anyone who would desire a better future would have to plan ahead. When the audience laughed at one of the students because he was considered generally unserious, I found a great time to explain to them that some of the people they mocked today would be the link to their most important signature before the cheque clears tomorrow — it would only be a matter of time and utilised opportunities.
I concluded by teaching them the formula, Future Value = Present Value + Investments (raised to the power n), where n represents level of perception of future direction and rate of opportunity utilisation; and also challenged them to draw up a plan that will take them in the direction of their dreams. The questions revealed the hidden questions that many of them never really considered the need to ask (mostly because of peer pressure) but I must confess that I left the two sessions happy — that at least one (1) person would make some of the decisions I made in my own final year in school, some of which I have found extremely helpful as I continue to build a career of my dreams. Will I be in Awka again? I think so…