While students prepare for their future, there is often a question that crosses their minds- what career am I going to venture into? Without the right guidance and mentorship, this can be a difficult question to answer. Students need to know early on what they should do in order to prepare for work. Justine Racheal, a Kigali-based business leadership coach and the CEO of Mentor Africa says young people should look for a place where they can plough their skills, grow their minds and develop themselves as individuals and be willing to grow a career, not a job. “People who are looking for employees to join their firms are not looking for those who are searching for jobs, they are looking for people who are seeing themselves as talent and seeking to develop a career,” she says. Alain Mugabo, a career guidance coach says that it is very important for students to start thinking earlier about the careers they wish to do later on when they are done with their studies. “It is very important and beneficial for them because not only does it open up their minds to various opportunities out there, but it also helps them acquire the skills needed to help them in their career search. They should think about it earlier because that is when they are free to determine what they want their future to be,” he explains. How to prepare Racheal quotes that success is what happens when opportunity meets preparation, she provides a few points that help in preparation: Know who you are and what you can do In life, we attract what we are, not what we want. This will help you align your dreams with your passions and abilities. It is only when you are passionate about your dreams that you will be able to stand the pressures, the disappointments, the extra hours, the rejection and the need to press on till you realise results. Integrity If you are preparing for the marketplace, you need to know that there is no better reputation you can have than for people to appreciate your work. The answer to success is to find out what you can do and do it now. Everything counts; The assignments count, the ‘waiting tables’ gigs count, all levels of interaction with teachers, restaurant owners, office managers, air hostesses, because any of those could be a reference to your potential recruitment. Visibility Building a career is in one way like getting into show business. If you are not out there networking, connecting to your line of career and asking them the right questions, getting involved, volunteering, studying may not do you any good. So, be out there where people who matter can see you very often. Sometimes people hire you, recommend you for no other reason than that- they have seen you around and seen what you can do. Persistence Once you have identified your career or area of competence, give it time to grow, stick to it faithfully, research, connect, and ignore the trends and changes. Goodwill Have a positive personality that people look up to and admire. Ask yourself, ‘If a study was done and a report produced about the kind of person I was; how I treated other people, my reputation, my position in the hearts and minds of others, what words would I want them to use? What would be the one word that would help you in your field or career? Pick that word and live up to it. Then, of course, get your grades right.