HOW TO GAIN WORK EXPERIENCE AS A NIGERIAN STUDENT

You must have seen a ridiculous job requirement like,

applicants must not be more than 24 years with a work experience of 5 years“.

What? How does that work for people who graduated at the age of 21, which is considerably very young?

According to heraldextra.com, the average age of graduates with just a bachelor’s degree is 25. While the average years of experience required from graduates with only a bachelor’s degree are 3+ years. 

Furthermore, Report says thaverage age at which people begin to suffer ageism at work is 50.

Let’s do the math! A Nigerian who graduates aged 25 without any exposure to real work experience will spend three years searching for a job. Plus, the 1 year dedicated to youth service, which equals 29 years. If he/she secures a job at 29, they’re likely to get an employment length of just 21 years. Insane!

Work experience has always been an indispensable requirement for recruitment in top organisations. Inability to prove this usually results in disappointment for the job applicants. One may even meet up with every other criterion but will still be denied due to lack of work experience.

Now the question is, how does one gather work experience before graduating? 

6 WAYS TO GAIN WORK EXPERIENCE AS A STUDENT

It’s always frustrating for fresh graduates who haven’t been exposed to any form of experience. Most of their minds scream,

but I just graduated! How am I expected to gain work experience as a student?“.

Sadly, this is where most companies want to see how smart and fit, you’re to work with them.

But yes, it’s possible to get work experience as a student. Here are five ways of gaining work experience as a student:

  1. Internships

Interning is one of the best and the most common way to gain work experience as a student. Take up jobs in line with your career path during your years of studentship. Contrary to thoughts of being too busy, internships are always designed to accommodate students’ schedules. It could be a part-time or full-time program. It could also be a work from home situation.  Just ensure you look for one that is flexible and easy to fit into your schedule.

For example, some times in 2019, I applied for an internship in France which was a big deal. Sadly, I didn’t get any feedback, so I decided to settle for another similar program in Ivory Coast during the holidays, though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. 

On a faithful day, while I was at Ivory Coast when I got a mail for an interview from the French internship. While I was happy with the invitation, it was quite sad I know I wouldn’t be able to make it as I was already out of the country. 

I told the interviewer I couldn’t be available because I was on another internship out of Nigeria.

He requested for proof of the program which I sent to him. The next email I got from him read that I had been accepted and I could complete the processing when I returned. I was surprised because there wasn’t much questioning. I got it so easily.

Securing big opportunities because of some internship program big opportunities can’t be overrated; the experience is the value. The fun part is that they’re mostly paid depending on your positions.

  1. Work shadowing

Unlike internships, work shadowing does more of giving an insight into the job rather than an experience. Work shadowing is an informal way to gain work experience where you just watch and observe someone do their job.

Internships could be scarce in some career paths, and this is where work shadowing could be helpful. It is also a short-term program, so a good way to start is by requesting for a few days of observation in your desired role. If the company is happy with your performance, they could decide to recruit you depending on the available position.

  1. Online courses

The greatest benefit of taking online courses is that they’re at your disposal. So many vast modules that you could gain some versatility by deciding to do something outside your career path. You can study Foreign Languages at university and become a professional accountant. All thanks to online courses.

You can start by signing up for some online courses’ platforms like Udemy. LinkedIn also has a platform that provides professional courses. You can take practical or theoretical courses.

Asides the fact that they give a flexible schedule, they’re cheaper compared to learning face-to-face. For example, you don’t get extra bills like; dues, transportation fees, print outs, etc. You get to cut your bills and save more. Taking online courses will help you gain work experience cheaply.

  1. Volunteering

Offering a service at free will first be commended as a noble act before the experience gained.

It could be stressful and very demanding and sometimes thought to be worthless because you may be benefiting only compared to your input. Doing something charitable could bring some sort of fulfilment.

There are so many ways you could put up your skills for charitable purposes. Starting is as easy as surfing the internet to search for volunteering opportunities.

No matter how burdensome they may be, they always come in handy sooner or later – scholarships, job opportunities, recommendations, etc.

Insight: You can join the insight writers’ community and create a professional online presence for yourself.

  1. Leading a society, club or association

From the first word, ‘leading’, you can tell that valuable skill is leadership.

The size of the society, club or association you fare for doesn’t matter. The skill is what companies are searching for – knowing that someone with such skill could ignite innovation when employed.

Adding a leadership role held while in the university to your curriculum vitae will definitely give it a better look.

  1. Starting a small business

Showing off your entrepreneurship skills in your CV will count as a plus one. Starting a business while in school will surely cause a busy schedule and subsequently stress but what employers want to see is you converting that stress to productivity.

Excelling both in your business and studies doesn’t just prove your entrepreneurship skills, it shows that you possess excellent multitasking skills which is a rare commodity.

Employers want to see how well you can; juggle different work activities at once, and prioritise tasks to attend to the most critical and pressing demands first. How well you succeed with your business, and studies will give an insight on your multitasking skills. Multitasking could, however, affect productivity.

In the end, it’s not just about the experience. It’s about one’s level of creativity and ability to multitask as a student in comparison to how well you’ll do as an employee.

Therefore, get up and start making those necessary moves!

About Author

Micheal Dawodu
A motivated and enthusiastic writer with a passion for making social impacts. He's also a multilinguist, speaks English, French, Yoruba as some German. His interests are health and lifestyle, current affairs, sports, and arts.

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