There is a trend I have noticed among Nigerians, that when someone achieved something or reached some milestone, the question most people would ask is, how? Who helped you? Who connected you? Who pushed your paper? Give me your contact now… etc
As Nigerians we have been conditioned to think that without the help of wealthy well connected parents, or some influential uncle somewhere, we cannot get a job or reach our goals. I am not going to deny the reality of this, it happens in Nigeria and all over the world. There are people who get a lift from their family/friends and there are those who lift themselves. Nothing is wrong if you get help from people around you o, but what happens when you don’t have “well connected” people?
When I was 23, I came to Lagos with one suitcase to start a job as an intern in a media company. People asked, “who helped you to get the job?” Some years after, I got a fully funded scholarship to study abroad and I got the same questions. What my friends did not know was that when I came to Lagos, I had less than 5k with me and I didn’t come to start the job, I came for the interview. But I had faith that I’d scale the interview. That’s how my career in the media started. The scholarship I got was something I planned for two years. It was an expensive process, I read everything I could about it and began to save my coins. Month after month, I put something away for the application process. When the time came, I applied to six different universities by myself and had faith that at least one school will give an admission and a fully funded scholarship.
I am sharing all these because an old friend from my university days recently reached out to ask how I got a job, and how I got my scholarship. I told her that I applied but I could tell she didn’t really believe me. The next day she reached out again saying I should please help her; she wants to apply for a master’s program abroad. When I asked what kind of job she was looking for, and what course and where does she want to study, she said, “I don’t know, anything, just help me”.
We, especially those of us from poor homes, need to let go of the mentality that we need connection for everything. Are you looking for job? Apply everywhere, even to companies without vacancies. Is it master’s abroad? Prepare mentally and financially, all the information you need is on the internet. Are you trying to learn a business? There’s YouTube, and you can intern with someone who is already established. The list goes on.
I know there’s grace or luck involved, but there’s also a lot of hard work. As we settle into this new year, prepare to knock on doors for the things you want. Knock, bang, and push. Someone will surely open a door for you!