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“Graduates should consider networking”
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“Graduates should consider networking”

Badru WalusansaMakerere University’s 67th graduation ceremony launched more than 10,000 new graduates, writes Badru Walusansa, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kampala in Uganda, who argues they will need networking skills as well as academic success to land jobs and careers.

While the graduates from Makerere and the rest of Uganda’s public universities will celebrate their latest academic feat, we all should take a moment to ponder whether these new additions to the job market are well equipped to face life after university education.

The search for job placements or money to start up personal business ventures is a task most fresh graduates will embark on after acquiring their papers. However, one huge part of the job hunt equation is the ability and willingness of the job seekers to network.

It’s apparent that finding a graduate with knowledge in ICT, accounting or record keeping is easier than finding one with an extra skill of networking. Networking – the act of interacting with others to acquire contacts and obtain information – offers opportunities for job placements or employee hiring, breaks social barriers and determines one’s net worth as they embark on their career path.

Today’s labour market is highly competitive and the nightmare of getting a job from the few available options gets harder by the day. As such, qualifications alone cannot guarantee one employment or clientele, even if one starts his or her own business enterprise.

Meeting new people and being open to interactions during family dinners, corporate and business events, workshops, parties and other social gatherings are useful platforms for networking and improving chances for opportunities.

I know of three university graduates who decided to start up an IT consultancy firm last year. Their business has steadily grown and when I asked one of them the magic behind the growth trajectory, he revealed that it’s through networking that the firm has managed to acquire its clients.

Networking also provides opportunities for identifying like-minded persons who can be key in developing one’s career.

My university professor once joked that our class alone could make the next government, with each one of us serving in a different portfolio. He, however, added that usually after university, people tend to lose contact with one another, thus limiting their opportunities, which is true.

Our education system puts much emphasis on teaching students to pass exams while leaving out other skills such as networking, communication and resource mobilisation, which are important for graduates to prepare for the real world.

That’s why it’s high time students realised that putting efforts in obtaining a first class or second upper degree is not enough. One must also take advantage of relationships one has with classmates, lecturers, hostel-mates or friends of friends.

In fact, a student with a lower grade and better networking skills can end up getting a better paying job than one with a good degree and poor networking skills.

The increasing use of social media by young people also presents profound opportunities for graduates and continuing students to break barriers and make new connections. I’m aware of several Facebook and Whatsapp groups where members share opportunities and give each other advice about work and life.

For every graduate or student still pursuing their education, ask yourself one question: If you met Bill Gates in an elevator and you had only five minutes with him, what business idea would you sell to him?

While there could be many business ideas, a person with years of networking will find it easy to sell an idea to a stranger.

badruwalu@gmail.com

photo credit: Philippe Put strella sphere via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a coordinator for Hands Against Poverty-Uganda, an initiative I support as I aspire to influence more youths in Uganda to directly engage in poverty reduction programmes. I am active in human rights advocacy and elections management, after having been a voter educator at the Citizens Election Observers Network-Uganda.

I have a passion for writing and have authored several articles on different topics in the Weekly Observer newspaper, and contribute articles for the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative’s website.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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