This week will see Makerere University hold its 64th Graduation ceremony, an event that will run from 28th all the way to 31st of January. A good number of students will be recognized and awarded for their brilliance, endurance, perseverance and determination. True, some might have opened their legs and wallets to secure that they are on the list but for now, that does not matter – the end may as well justify the means. There will be the traditional flaunting of gowns left right and center, the customary photo shoots and the almost mandatory graduation parties. This will be the culmination of life at the University.
As one who graduated from the same institution many years ago, I can say that I am somewhat familiar with the excitement, euphoria and anxiety that the graduands are feeling. However, right after you have had your graduation party and the dust has settled down, there are some harsh realities that you will be faced with. And this is where I come in. I am offering a few pointers for the graduands so that when you are finally given the title of graduate, you have some armor to help you as you walk out of the gates of Makerere University hopefully for the last time. I therefore present to you life after the graduation.
The Job Hunt Begins
This is probably not news to anyone but the job hunt in Uganda today is as confusing and frustrating as can possibly be. In the distant past, having a University Degree would guarantee you not just a job but a really good job. Today, having a University Degree will only secure you a chance to take a peek at some odd jobs that probably even have nothing to do with the course you did. As a fresh graduate, you will probably need to get serious about looking in the ‘Jobs’ sections of your dailies. You may also want to think about shedding off your snobbish ways because some opportunities might show up but because of your graduate status, you may feel like they are beneath you. Take a leap of faith and try out as many jobs as you possibly can. It is probably high time you considered roasting maize, polishing shoes or being a pump attendant at some fuel station. Nothing should be beneath you. At the end of the day what you are trying to avoid is being an unemployed graduate. Also, this way, you will have the balls to tell your ‘rags to riches’ story with more effect in future.
Unless you already have a steady job, you should think about being single for a while. Naturally as a fresh graduate, you are very positive about life and you are extremely optimistic – that is a good thing. Also, your libido is probably about to hit an all time high. However, you need to calm down and reduce the avenues for disappointment in your life. You should focus all your energies towards finding worthwhile employment and try to stay away from starting a fully fledged relationship. Now someone might argue that this is probably the right time for you to think about dating because, you have the time and you need a sexual partner; you have come of age. However, research has shown that a relationship weighs on the mind and heart almost as much as a job does. You have to fund, finance and furbish the relationship with time and money. You may have the time but the money is not at your disposal so it is safer for you to lay off the relationship train. As a matter of fact, swear an oath of celibacy for at least one year so that you can focus on getting yourself off the ground before eventually finding someone to help you eat the little money you have. Also, it is a good way to avoid pregnancy, AIDS and the mother of them all – heartbreaks.
Independence is over rated
Try as much as possible to stay with your parents. If you do not have a stable job and are not earning anything yet, it is safer for you to eat your parents food, enjoy their electricity and basically live under their roof. Usually when people graduate, the first thing they think about is leaving home -whether or not they have jobs. In this harsh world of today, the moment you leave your parents’ home, you my friend are exposing yourself to all sorts of risks that independent people encounter. Rent, feeding, transport and all those other expenses are going to pull really hard at you and even if you get a small job, you will be too busy paying bills to even save anything for yourself. Swallow your pride and stay in your father’s house, for now. This is your time to be a good boy/girl or else you might risk being thrown out of your parents house for being bid headed. If you have never respected and cherished your parents, this is a time for you to begin – you need them.
Relax, you aren’t the first or last
While you may be the first person in your village sub-county to graduate, be reminded that there are thousands of other people like you across the country. This means that you should desist from shoving your degree in people’s faces. Many people out there have degrees, PHDs, Masters, Doctorates but they get to live simple, quiet and unassuming lives – pick a leaf. True, you may be one of the few to have graduated with Honors. True, your graduation may have been against all odds. True you may have had a graduation party that cost half the country’s GDP. However, you need to take a chill pill and not make it seem like the world rotates around your Bachelors Degree. Many graduates are roaming the streets carrying out acts of robbery and sports betting and they are languishing in cells all over the country – you are no different from them. Until you have been asked about your degree, there is no need to swing it around and announce to everyone that you are a graduate. Half the people don’t care; the other half have better and more papers than you do. So, relax.
Finally, as you head out into the big world, be sure that you will always come across someone who has better papers, more connections or more experience than you do. So your task is simple – work hard enough to also be looked as the person who has better papers, more connections and more experience than others.
Do have yourselves a wonderful graduation and once again, congratulations – you made it thus far!
“It makes little difference how many university courses or degrees a person may own. If he cannot use words to move an idea from one point to another, his education is incomplete.” – Norman Cousins
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