Experience: The dilemma of a fresh graduate
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In the coming weeks, thousands of students will be graduating from many universities in the country. These will join many more that have walked Kigali streets for years without finding a job. This trend is likely to continue for many more years considering that universities and tertiary institutions are churning out more students than the jobs created. According to reports, over 15,000 students graduate from universities every year but not all of them will find jobs going by the National Institute of Statics which estimates that Rwanda’s unemployment rate increased to 3.40 percent in 2012 from 1.20 percent in 2006.
To make matters worse, most employers, especially in the private sector, ask for experience whenever they advertise jobs which automatically makes a fresh graduate ineligible.
For example Philemon Dusabumuremyi graduated with a degree in accounting in 2010 but has since remained unemployed.
“After a long search for jobs yielded nothing, I decided to enroll for an online course in business management from Amity University,” Dusabumuremyi says.
Of late, many parents and graduates think like Dusabumuremyi. They argue that instead of wasting years looking for jobs, you are better off upgrading your qualifications to become more marketable.
Employers speak out
Jean Bosco Iyacu, the technical manager at Access to Finance Rwanda, says companies will always look out for people with experience because they save time and resources.
“Employing someone without the required skills means spending money and time training them. We prefer someone who will start work immediately,” Iyacu says.
He also advises people like Dusabumuremyi to do courses in ACCA and CPA to boost their chances of scooping good jobs.
“People who do professional courses normally stand a higher chance of getting jobs quickly. For instance in financial institutions, ACCA and CPA are a must-have,” he says.
Most students, while in their second or third year at university, are normally required to do internship in order to get direct experience of working in a particular role. For example aspiring journalists join media organizations, while students of mechanical engineering go to garages or factories to get a feel of what actually happens in the field. In some cases, interns that have impressed have been employed on a permanent basis.
However, Aaron Turamye, the Chief Human Resources Officer at Bank Populaire du Rwanda Ltd, questions the quality of training given to interns by companies.
“Although internship is important, not all institutions will give an intern the right kind of skills. Besides, there is no guarantee that this training will be relevant to the available jobs,” Tumuramye says.
Ray of hope
Despite the limited job opportunities, experts say fresh graduates still have a chance to get jobs.
Dr Abdallah Baguma, the acting director, Higher Education Council, says many applicants miss out on jobs because of misinterpreting job adverts.
“When job requirements and specifications are posted, majority of students rush to confirm the academic requirements only and miss out on key issues,” Baguma says.
He adds that certain job adverts put emphasis on certain skills which, if ignored, can crash one’s hopes of landing themselves a big job.
“Certain job adverts put emphasis on certain skills. For example an offer calling for ‘10 years of experience as a must’ is different from one which says ‘10 years of experience is an added advantage’. While a fresh graduate may qualify for the latter, the first one completely rules him or her out,” Baguma explains.
Ernest Kayinamura, the Chief Executive Officer of Hexacomb, an online platform that links the employer and the applicant, advises fresh graduates to utilize the services of private job search firms to find work.
“All recruitment activities are centralised and it is easy for fresh graduates to access jobs because the candidate qualifications and professional experience are easily viewed by the employers,” Kayinamura says.
Meanwhile, government also plans to have 60 per cent of students join TVET schools by 2017 in a bid to produce more job creators than seekers.
Jerome Gasana, the director general of the Work Force Development Authority, in an earlier interview told The New Times: “Our target is that a majority of our students become job creators rather than job seekers. One of the ways we are helping government achieve the target of 200,000 off-farm jobs is through the National Employment programme which mostly considers people we can train for a short period, say six months before they can fill positions.”
Although most students think jobs will come on a silver platter, employers think otherwise. One must work hard and stand out of the crowd if they are to stand any chance of being spotted by employers.
The Government also plans to have 60 per cent of students join TVET schools by 2017 in a bid to create more job creators than seekers.
What are the options?
Eric Nsengiyumva, a civil engineer
When I completed university last year, I took some time off to do voluntary work in the community since most people (residents) were supportive during my time in school. This year, however, I am going to start applying for jobs aggressively.
Claudine Nirere, 59, a resident of Gatenga
My daughter finished university two years ago but jobs were not forthcoming. She is currently helping me in my retail shop until she gets an opportunity somewhere. My advice to fresh graduates is to find anything to keep them busy.
Valentine Niyitegeka, holds a diploma in business management
I completed my studies last year but haven’t worked yet. I am currently learning how to drive in order to add on the skills I have. Once I am done with that, I will look for an internship opportunity.
Jasmine Nsengiyumva studied interior and landscape design at KIST
Since I left school, I have been doing all sorts of casual jobs with an aim of generating small capital to start my own business. I have a dream of becoming an employer some day in future.
Venuste Munyeshyaka, a teacher in Kabeza
Graduates should develop the mentality of being independent. This is why they need to engage in all activities that can generate small income regardless of what the public says. Remaining indoors is of no purpose since an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.
Francis Nzemeriryimana, a teacher
Getting a job is not easy. I graduated two years ago but haven’t got a job yet. I leave home every morning to go and drop my application in different places after which I come back home. I am optimistic I will find a job one day.
Compiled by Lydia Atieno
Ways to get that graduate job
1. Arrange work experience or internships while at university. If you have not done so and are in your final year at university, your best option may very well be to opt for an internship or work experience on leaving, as more than one in three of the jobs on offer this summer is likely to go to those who have previous experience with the firm to which they are applying.
2. Ensure any gap-year experiences, such as working for a charity – particularly if you have been abroad during that time – are chronicled in your CV. It shows evidence of an enterprising spirit and a willingness to tackle new horizons.
3. Research about the company or employer you are seeking a job with before the interview. Make sure you know exactly what it is, what it does, its ethos and its history. Interviewers will not be impressed if you do not know this basic information.
4. Memorise any skills you may have that are relevant to the job. You should perhaps write them down as an aide-memoire but do not bring it out during the interview. Rely on your memory.
5. Prepare the night before by ensuring your clothes are neatly ironed and pressed and smart. Depending on the ethos of the company, you should be dressed in smart-casual clothes or more formal attire. With banking and soliciting, a suit for men will be necessary. A smart trouser suit or outfit for women. Men should be clean-shaven.
6. Think of questions to ask them. There is nothing worse than saying “no” if they ask you whether there is anything you want to know at the end of the interview. Prepare a stock of questions. Some of the answers may crop up during the interview process and you need to have one or two up your sleeve to be able to cope with every eventuality.
7. Stay calm. Take a drink of water just before the interview to avoid “dry-mouth syndrome”. Make sure you have had something to eat before the interview — to avoid rumbling-tummy syndrome.
8. Smile when you enter the room and ensure your posture is upright. Slouching will leave a very bad impression.
9. If you are offered a hand to shake, shake it firmly as a sign of confidence and composure. Also, do not sit down until invited to do so by your interviewers. It could be seen as casual or insolent behaviour. If you normally fidget, try to put your hands in front of you and rest them on the desk in front of you.