“The future belongs to everybody who believes in their hopes and dreams, who is ready to work for them and not give up”, those are the words of Mise Chikoma, a 28-year-old revenue assurance & management information system officer at Stanbic Bank Tanzania who graduated from the Sokoine University of Agriculture in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Informatics.
The difference between what students are taught in higher learning institutions and what employers are looking for when hiring recent graduates, is constantly evolving.
Mise Chikoma joined the Stanbic Tanzania graduate trainee program in 2017. The programme sets out to nurture future leaders and bridge the skill gap through offering skills training and exposing bright, dynamic, highly motivated and young graduates to the heart of the business. After one year, Mise was offered employment with the bank.
We sat down with him to chat about his journey from a graduate trainee to a fully-fledged and capable staff member of a financial institution.
Mise shared insights on his journey and ten tips for fresh graduates ready for the job market:
1. Never be afraid to start small and dare to do more.
As a fresh graduate, you might come across an opportunity that seems too junior for you however, think of it as a chance to gain the right skills, experience and exposure. Start with what you have and the rule of compounding interest will work in your favour. Once you start, don’t stay in your comfort zone but aim high and keep exceeding the expectations set out for you - with time, you will realize the benefits of starting small.
2. Explore opportunities to volunteer in companies.
Remember, it’s not always about the money but it’s about building a solid foundation in a career or field that you are passionate about and one that you will enjoy working in. Initially, be willing to forego the pay check by getting your foot in the door as a volunteer. The passion for what you do will unlock opportunities and the money will come.
3. Keep polishing yourself.
You might be fresh out of school but the real learning has just begun. Expose yourself to new people, build your knowledge, and ensure you are updated on the current market trends in your area of training.
4. Know who you are and what you want.
Do you know what you want to do? Is it in line with your values? When you know exactly what you want to do and why, it becomes simpler for you to go out and get it. Take time to do a self-assessment on your skills and talents and identify a fit. Being self-aware will allow you to find a fulfilling role.
5. Start networking – now.
Making connections within your field will definitely elevate your chances of landing a job. A business card is not a requirement, reach out to your former lecturer, ask a professional in your family to help you connect with someone that you look up to in your field, or just go to a conference and engage with players in your field – they just might turn out to be your future colleagues.
6. Have a well presented and updated CV.
Ensure that your CV highlights all your relevant experience in an impressive design. In today’s digital world you need to ensure that you are presenting yourself in a creative way. Go the extra mile and seek help from a designer or find a template online.
7. Get LinkedIn and use social media to your advantage.
Instead of scrolling aimlessly on social media, start building your profile on LinkedIn to get noticed by recruiters and corporates scoping for talent. Make sure you catalogue all your achievements and follow titans in your industry.
8. Get involved in your community.
Job hunting with no success can lead to self-pity, find opportunities to engage with others through forums or get involved in community outreach programs in your neighbourhood. You could meet someone that will point you to a job opportunity.
9. Be confident.
Your attitude is the game changer to success when job hunting. Stay positive throughout the process and don’t allow the period of looking for your first job wear you down. Keep your head up, be consistent, and hit the tarmac running.
10. Stay patient.
Rome was not built in a day and the same applies to establishing a career. Don’t get anxious, remain patient throughout the process. Your patience might open up your eyes to other opportunities that you never thought possible.
“I joined the graduate program not knowing much about banking other than depositing and withdrawing. In the last two years, I have been trained, mentored and gotten so much exposure to the right information. My journey has taught me a lot and I intend to keep learning. I can say that the first day I walked into Stanbic Bank Tanzania’s doors, I was not a professional, but today, I can confidently say that I am a young and empowered professional,” Mise said in closing, adding that young people should not be afraid to start where they are and keep applying for opportunities that will upskill and polish them.