After School What Next?

A certain young man received offers from two different big brands on separate occasions and he turned them down. The first one was with MTN and the other was with JOY FM. His friends mocked him. His mother scolded him. But the question is; what brought about such deeply seated convictions to not accept those great job offers? He had a plan; he had a strategy. He had mapped out a career strategy and that strategy did not contain MTN and Joy FM. What mattered to him was his passion. What mattered to him was his career objective. That young man was Mr. Stephen Essien, the Director of Tigo Business.

There was also a boy who was never given pocket money for lunch. His parents packed his lunch for him, enough to satisfy him. Thus, he could not purchase all the choice delicacies he saw his mates munching on day after day. He saw the FanPop and FanYogo that they enjoyed every day and settled on doing something to get some to enjoy. Do you know what he did?

Well, because his snacks were uncommon, he traded them for money. He exchanged his snacks for money in order to get what he needed- FanPop and FanYogo.

Now a full-fledged pastor, Paapa Korankye Ankrah recounts that he was not aware that he was engaging in business then but he actually was.

As a 2nd year student of University of Cape Coast, Albert carried in his heart a burning desire to build leadership capacity right from the Senior High School level by empowering prefects at that level. Fast forward to ten years later, he holds Success Africa Conferences across the African continent and he is recognized as the 10th Most Influential Young Ghanaian under 40. Mr. Albert Kusi is the CEO of the LEC Group.

These inspiring anecdotes and more were related by speakers at the ‘After School What Next?’ Conference which took place on the 10th of March, 2017 at the Francis K. Drah Conference room of the University of Ghana, Legon.

Leadership Empowerment Consult organized this prayer-answering conference. It’s the sixth since its inception. It was designed to bridge the gap between the lecture room and the job market.

The emcee, Eleazar Quayson, welcomed the audience and found out from them what their expectations were.
Isaac of LEC briefed the audience on the purpose of the programme; to help students to make informed decisions on how to build a career plan, owning a business and standing out as the best candidate for the job. “What skill set is your future employer looking out for?” he asked.
“What value are you going to add to the organization?” he went on.
He urged students present to increase their knowledge base. Learn something about marketing, designing, public speaking, driving…something aside your course that will increase your value.

Mr. Albert Kusi, CEO of the LEC Group, gave the first presentation. He shared on the theme of the programme: After School What Next?

He rewarded a young man for coming to the programme before time with a Vodafone shirt and another with a Vodafone keyholder, fan and pen for answering a question.

He kept sharing the progression of the story of how LEC began as well as ‘After School What Next?’ Many lessons were gleaned as he shared the highly adventurous story.

“You cannot keep sleeping on your dream and achieve anything in life,” he pointed out. 

In your quest to achieve your dream, you have to overcome challenges. There are people God will bring your way to help you to achieve your dream; what you need to do is to find them. Just keep doing it. 

You cannot allow your dream to remain in one geographical location; you can impact the world. 

He shared on the cardinal sins of today’s graduate viz.:

# They are looking out for certificates with good classes. 

# Unrealistic salary expectations.

Think of what you’re going to do for the company. Do an industry survey and how it corresponds to your skill set. Always give the company your minimum salary expectation. Start small and grow big.

# Poor planning before completion.

Unemployment happens because students do not plan. “What can you do for me?” he asked. It is easy to be helped when you identify your problem. Some are only interested in logos and colours; choose companies based on a need. Align your skills, interest and passion with the company. Find your area of strength and operate in your area of strength. You can only place value on yourself by your skills. Sit and and spend time to plan. Location can affect the kind of decisions you have to make. You need to think again and make plans. 

# National Service Placement

Think through in order to decide exactly where you want to do your National Service. Spend time to connect what you’re studying with the role you want to perform.

“There are more jobs than there are people to do the jobs; the problem is competence,” Mr. Kusi noted.

# Dependency syndrome.

Know what you want to do and seek your parents’ assistance. Don’t depend entirely on them. Learn to become financially independent after school. 

He went on to talk about CV writing. He hinted that a CV should contain the following:

# Personal details

# Career Summary

# Education

# Work experience

# Special skills and abilities

# Achievements

# Leadership & Extracurricular activities

# References

“The more you do, the more you write,” he said. Form good impressions about yourself by forming a good e-mail address. Start from the most current place or value when it comes to your education and work experience. If you don’t have anything to write, you can’t use any of the headings.

Mr. Kusi continued with interview tips viz.:

# Research about the company to know the values you want to align with.

# Dress and smell appropriately.

# Have a positive mindset. Believe that you are the best candidate for the job. If it’s possible, buy everything new. Prepare your strategy for growth.

# Be confident.

# Maintain eye contact.

# Keep it simple.

He also shared with participants some questions to expect at the interview: 

# What can you do?

# What have you done?

# Who are you?

This can be translated as “What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?” Your USP is who you are in one sentence.

He went further to discuss what employers expect as follows:

# Graduates with a can-do spirit.

# Graduates with a USP.

# Graduates ready to think and solve problems.

# Graduates ready to humble themselves.

# Graduates with a positive attitude towards work.

# Graduates ready to adapt.

# Graduates ready to learn.

If you don’t have a plan, people will plan for you. 

You must begin to prepare now. Take into consideration your place of stay, what exactly what you will do. Work on yourself using available channels and media. Identify your strengths and your weaknesses. Commit to God in prayer. “You can’t make it without God,” Mr. Kusi said. God is able to provide for your needs. Pray day and night.

He quoted Jeremiah 29:11 in closing to inspire participants present.

He also urged attendees to understand the spiritual implications that impact your life, citing the practice of tithing.

Julius Nyarko, youth segment manager of Vodafone, shared his life story. He indicated that the first step in making it is in attending the conference participants had attended. He recounted that he attended every conference on his campus whiles a student. 

He urged students to find their strengths and to be prepared to work for less than what they are worth. He also urged them to form the right circles.

Abdullai Mary sent an appreciation e-mail to Mr. Kusi during the course of the conference. As a result, she won a GHS 50.00 Databank Investment Voucher.

Mr. Stephen Essien lauded participants for being present at the conference and shared on strategic career planning for career excellence.

Career planning is essential to achieving success in your chosen career. You must know which direction you’re headed and the requirements needed. 

Your plan should be in short-term (3-5 years) and long-term (5-10 years). Plan both ways.

Developing your plan:

# Identify your career plan.

# Conduct detailed career research.

# Pinpoint qualifications you need.

# Compare your current profile with the qualifications needed for the job.

# Develop a plan to get qualification.

“In the next few years, degrees will be nothing…degree is absolutely nothing,” Mr. Essien pointed out.

Whatever you want to do, plan it now.

Mr. Essien also talked about career analysers and admonished attendees to know their strengths and weakness. Do SWOT analysis for your life.

Analyse your definition of success. Have a picture of your future.

Know your personality and check who you are. Your career must fit your personality. Your current and future lifestyle matter. Examine your likes and dislikes.

Discover your passion. You can only make money from your passion. You need to love the job.

“If your passion is gossiping, find a radio station and work in,” he said.

 What is your dream job? Find your dream job. Do something towards it. Align your job search with your dream job. 

Plan and stay with it. Be focused. In the next 15 years the job you will do, you should know now.

He encouraged the students, especially level 100s and 200s to take advantage of the holidays and vacations to start working for experience not money. 

You need to be seen in the industry. Be a volunteer.

Volunteering in diverse ways is a great way to know people. Use your time to do something valuable. Be known for the right reasons. In the next 10 years, the people who will rule the country are your friends.

What image do you have of yourself? It will matter in the next ten years.

Serve. Get out of your comfort zone. Work now. Your work today will shape what you will do in the future.

Be mentored. Get someone to advise you. Don’t bring your personal issues into your conversation with your mentor. Get someone who has a good track record in the industry. Be committed to doing it. Don’t have commitment anxiety.

He also cited some barriers to career excellence and indicated that there will be external influences but you must stick to the road map.

Beware of peer and family pressures.

# Self assessment is very important.

# Career exploration.

# Career identification

# Create an action plan. It’s so critical. You can’t do anything without an action plan.

Focus on God. Believe in Christ and trust in God.

Mr. Stephen Essien sponsored Success magazines for all TiGo subscribers present.

Pastor Paapa Korankye Ankrah, CEO of Quest Technologies, shared a deeply stirring message on “What do you want to be in future?”

Equip yourself with the right tools so that when you figure out what you want to do, you can do it.

Three pathways to take after school:

# More school.

# Immediately find a job.

# Immediately start your own business

The weight of a degree is dwindling. A degree is almost next to nothing today. 

Don’t follow peer pressure to look for the same job everybody is looking for. You can create your own business.

All wisdom has a foundation in the Bible. 

Referencong from Genesis 26:17-22, he shared valuable lessons concerning starting a business.

You will find yourself in positions where your mind has outgrown where you are; the real world. 

Lesson #1: You will get to the point where you have to leave your comfort zone.

Lesson #2: You cannot be idle waiting for something to happen.

What do you see yourself doing and not being? The thing you want to do now shapes your future. Whatever you’re doing now, know that it will get harder.

Find a solution for a problem people have and commercialize it. That’s how to be an entrepreneur.

Lesson #3: Find successful mentors and learn their ways.

Lesson #4: Find a business that has done something similar to what you want to do and learn their ways. There is no new business under the sun.

Lesson #5: Don’t be afraid to do what somebody has done before and do it better. Add value so that you are distinctive.

If you’re waiting for a world-changing business idea, you’ll wait for long.

Lesson #6: It is OK to fail more than once. When you fail you’ll do it again. 

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with something original,” he hinted.

Lesson #7: View competition as motivation. Look at it as a springboard. 

Lesson #8: Hard times will come but don’t give up.

Lesson #9: Stay positive always.

Once you give up in your mind, you will fail.

He closed his message with Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says:

Do it with all your might.

A major hindrance to starting up is funding. Find out about financial engineering. If it is your desire to start up something and you need funding, consider participating in Ask Network’s Entrepreneurship challenge coming off on 27th July, 2017. Your business plans must be submitted a month ahead, that is, by 27th June, 2017.

All you need is a team of at least two to pitch your business at the Movers and Shakers Conference. Visit www.asknetworkgh.com to register. email info@asknetworkgh.com.

It was truly a riveting and exciting conference to participate in.

Thanks to the LEC Group and the sponsors, Databank Group, Breezebrand, TiGo Ghana and Vodafone Ghana.

Thanks to you for staying through to read this entire report.

Please let me have your feedback on how it has helped you and what you intend to do with all that you have read. As well, if you have noticed any inadequacies in this write-ups, please feel free to point them out to me. I am ever ready to listen and learn from you.

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