After completing any major milestone, the most common question we get asked is “what’s next?”. From family, to friends and even strangers, they always have this exact same question to ask, what’s next? In this post, I will focus on the most common answers I have gotten to this question from my fellow mates. Then give some advice on how to get through the dreaded what is next phase.
The four most common answers I have been getting from everyone I have asked about what’s next. Have been
i) Going for a second degree or masters
ii) Job hunting/currently unemployed
iii) Getting retained or a new job
iv) No idea, just chilling
Any Nigerian that has completed, or is about complete the NYSC program can definitely relate to the daunting task of trying to answer the “what’s next?” question. Well, after a whole year of chilling or not really working or working your butt off to get retained, all whilst “serving your country”. There is usually some pressure to have answers to that very scary question. So let’s get into some tips and advice for anyone in any of those phases.
What’s next for the Masters/ PhD route?
- Choose your Course Wisely: Ensure you are choosing a marketable and sought-after course in your discipline. This would increase your earning potential and be equally attractive to potential employers. Also, let it be in something you have a passion for as you would want to enjoy studying it and get good grades. Getting a Masters or PhD is not easy at all, so you need to be sure you’re studying the right thing.
- Do Your Research: Be very certain that you are well-qualified for the course you are about to study. Some masters’ programs will require a certain level of work experience to be able to fully reap the benefits of the course. You wouldn’t want to be disadvantaged in
- Explore the Scholarship Option: Some people have this misconception that scholarships are only for high honours or first class students. This is false, there are many scholarship opportunities and some of them just require applications. There are some sites like Opportunities for Africans which is a great resource for discovering opportunities, you can simply subscribe to their newsletter to be updated. However, brace yourself for rejections as this tends to be a competitive route but don’t get discouraged, just keep trying. On the bright side, it is a way of easing a huge financial burden off you and your guardians’ shoulders.
- Ensure you Maximize the Opportunity: Many of us (myself inclusive) are guilty of using the Master’s route as an escape plan from Nigeria. Or a way to delay moving back (which I totally understand, to be honest, Naija is hard). But don’t get so caught up in that that you decide to just settle by studying some random course. Let it be meaningful to your future plans for yourself, choose something that would help you add value to your life and the society at large.
- Do Not Rely solely on Agents: There are so many businesses out there with the aim of scamming people. Some of these agents would sell you ridiculously too-good-to-be-true deals. Please ensure you check out them out very well. Always go the extra mile and be sure to check out everything they say.
What’s next for the job searchers or unemployed?
- Your CV/Resume is King: Your CV is one of the most important documents in your career life. It is essential to dedicate time and resources to create the best CV to sell yourself well. Always remember to customize your CV to suit the field or industry you are applying for, the same CV can’t be used for every job role. For example, a graphics designer would be expected to have a visually appealing CV, for a graphics design role and can create a text-based one for a manager role. Paying that extra buck to have your CV reviewed by professionals or rewritten for you would definitely go a long way in improving your odds in this job search game.
- Utilize LinkedIn: LinkedIn might seem like some boring professional network, only for professionals. But this is a great resource for job opportunities and meaningful career networking. I literally got a job offer through my LinkedIn direct messages from a very reputable organisation. This recruiter reached out to me just after viewing my profile. This wasn’t a matter of connections or knowing the right people as I did not know this person from anywhere. Just be sure to sell yourself and skills through your LinkedIn profile. Engage with other people on LinkedIn and update your profile frequently. Let me know if you are interested in a more detailed post on how I took my LinkedIn profile from a 0 to a 100.
- Build your interview skills: There are many little ways to mess up at a job interview. Be sure to always practice before an interview. Take some time to learn about the organization, the skills required for your job description and lastly be confident. Confidence helps to secure the bag.
- Referrals from people you know: Another great source of opportunities are usually from people you know. Don’t be shy to tell your friends, mentors, family or even strangers that you are job searching. Always remember to tell them your qualifications or skill set rather than saying “you’re looking for anything”. You wouldn’t want to be applying for jobs you have absolutely no interest in or lack the qualifications. So tell everyone you know can be of help and network very well.
For your personal development and mental health, remember to…
- Stay Occupied and Don’t Be Idle: Unemployment or job search depression is real, especially when you are just at home doing nothing. Try to engage your mind by learning a skill, reading more, starting a business, provide a service, dedicate more time to building a part of yourself or volunteer at an NGO/organization you have interest in. I would advise to volunteer somewhere you get to do the actual work so you get to learn on the job. This adds to your experience, especially when there might be no remuneration for your work. Take pride in the fact you are learning and doing the work that is preparing you for something better than there. This would help to reduce the anxiety that comes with doing nothing and would be a great way to make the most of this free time.
- Protect Your Energy: Being unemployed tends to be a vulnerable time for many people because having a job gives one a sense of security and confidence while not having one disrupts this. Which is why it is of utmost importance to surround yourself with positive and supportive friends or family. The last thing you need is negative people that make you feel low. Surround yourself with people that would uplift and help you in this period, not the opposite.
- Believe in God and Yourself: It is very easy to start doubting yourself when you have been job searching for a while. You need to always believe in your worth no matter what, self-doubt hinders you from gaining the opportunities you deserve. Never forget that God’s time is the best time. Stay prayed up and keep your faith up.
What’s next if you got retained or business is going well?
- Don’t Get Too Comfortable: You’ve secured the job or your business is kicking off smoothly. Now is not the time to relax and start chilling. This is the best time to even put in more work and give it
- Self-development is key: Start looking for ways to develop your career skill set or improve your entrepreneurial knowledge. Self-improvement is the only way to stay on top of your game. Find more ways to increase the value you add and improve upon the work you are doing. There are many free online courses available in many fields but
lastYoutube is your friend, so explore all the options. last
- Don’t Settle: If you are already feeling unfulfilled and depressed at your job. Now is not the time to settle, start finding a way out. We have all heard the tales of regret from people that stayed at a job they hated. You may do it for the money now, but it would not be worth it in the long-run. You don’t have to quit straight up but the first step is to stay looking for what you would rather be doing that brings you joy or satisfaction.
- Put On your Financial Thinking Cap: Some people may think their salary is too small to save from and honestly, it probably is especially if you are getting paid 10,000 or less. But allow me to put this in perspective for you, there are some people that take care of their families with the 19,800 NGN
alloweefrom NYSC. If they can find a way to do it, I’m sure you can find a way around it. You don’t want to be living from paycheck to paycheck all the time trust me. Start thinking investments, saving schemes and more. Your future self would be grateful.
On a more personal note, some things to always remember…
- You Can do it ALL: Trying to find the balance between your day job and your side hustles can be extremely tasking. This is an aspect I am still struggling with very much. I’ve learnt that doing things at my own pace and trusting the process are some ways to keep sane. Please don’t give up if you have a passion, just keep trying. It would all work out eventually and comparison fosters resentment. So run your own race.
- Prioritize Self-Care: Don’t forget to take care of yourself, mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s very easy to get sucked into the humdrum of “adulting” and put ourselves last. You are all you have at the end of the day, so don’t neglect yourself completely because of your current situation.
- Stay Grateful: When anxiety, stress, depression or whatever wants to take over your mind and have you feeling down. Always remember to be grateful and appreciate where you are right now. We are usually the last to notice our progress or how far we’ve come, make sure you have people that help you do that. Gratitude is important.
What’s next if you have no idea or just want to chill?
- Do something that Scares You: This might sound ridiculous but do it! It is the best time to take a risk or do something out of your comfort zone. You have nothing to lose, so why not just go ahead and DO IT!
- Don’t Waste This Free Time: If you’re a travelling type and have the resources, you should travel. Rest well if you haven’t done that in a while. Spend more time with family and loved ones if you have been slacking on that also. Read more books, learn new skills and just don’t let time pass without doing something purposeful.
- Take Your Time: There’s no rush to have it all figured out or know where exactly you’re going at once. But exploring is the only way to know the options available to you and those that interest you. Feel free to explore and really figure out what you want to do next
Lastly, don’t let the anxiety weigh you down. You are in charge and in control regardless of how your mind makes you feel. Hope this helps someone on their path. Let me know how you are overcoming the “what’s next?” phase in the comments below. Let us do it together. If you have more tips or advice be sure to share that as well. Thanks for reading, don’t forget to share this with anyone that may need this right now
Sending you love and light,