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Graduation; an end to one journey and the beginning of another

In a month’s time, Mount Kenya University Rwanda(MKUR) will be holding its 24th graduation ceremony, a significant milestone to prospective graduates.

Graduation marks the end of one journey, and a beginning of a new chapter; filled with dreams and expectations, as well as opportunities and challenges.

For the graduates, its vital that you go into the ‘real world’ prepared and equipped for whatever may come you way; the following tips may come in handy.

Understand that the job market is highly competitive; the diploma or degree you hold is a valuable asset, but it’s not a guarantee of immediate employment in your desired field. Therefore, incorporate school knowledge with crucial life skills such as; time management, financial literacy, effective communication, among others. Some employers prefer attitude to qualification. 

Networking; “Your network is your networth” so they say, make it a point to build a professional network with peers and professionals in your field of interest. This you can do by attending career fairs, connecting with alumni and using platforms such as LinkedIn; your network can open doors to job opportunities and mentorship.

Stay Open-Minded; Be willing to explore opportunities that may not align perfectly with your academic background. For instance, don’t say no to an opportunity in broadcast media because you specialized in print media or Public Relations. Furthermore, don’t shun away from professions that many term as ‘blue collar jobs’, It’s not uncommon to work in roles that may not seem glamorous but provide valuable experience and financial stability. Besides, every experience can be a stepping stone towards your career goals.

Set Realistic Expectations; It is absolutely fine to dream big: want a six figure salary right after graduation, drive the latest G-wagon, build a mansion, or wed that sweetheart you acquired at school. However, understand that success may not come overnight. Set achievable short-term and long-term goals, and be patient as you work towards them. 

Embrace Lifelong Learning; Graduation isn’t the end of your education; it’s just the beginning. Continue to learn and grow throughout your life. Explore new subjects, skills, and experiences to stay relevant in an ever-changing world. By investing in workshops, online courses, and certifications, you will stay competitive in the job market.

Internships and Volunteer Work; Gain practical experience through internships and volunteer work. These opportunities provide valuable insights, skill development, and a foot in the door at potential employers. Remember, school has only provided you with the ‘basics’ and the real knowledge is obtained through practice, not to mention the ‘harsh’ recruiters who ask for experience of more than two years; you can only obtain it through volunteering.

Resilience and Adaptability; Be prepared for setbacks and change. Life after school is not all that ‘rosy’. You will be required to start managing your finances, make personal decisions, among other things. Resilience and adaptability are vital as you navigate the unpredictable twists and turns in your journey.

Above all, achieve a healthy work-life balance for your overall well-being. Don’t over stretch yourself, make time for relaxation, hobbies, and social connections. Prioritizing your mental and physical health is not selfish, it is the foundation of your success.

Ultimately, seek guidance from experienced professionals in your field. Get a mentor to provide you valuable insights, advice, and support. He/she will also help you to regularly reflect on your journey, re-evaluate your goals, and make necessary adjustments that can help you stay on the right path.

Much as the transition from student to graduate may seem ‘hard’, embrace it with enthusiasm and a commitment to lifelong learning and growth.

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