This is one story I doubt I would never get tired of sharing. Let me begin with a summary of my educational background. Growing up, I was an average student, the "C” kind of student, I studied engineering as my first degree and with much struggle, I managed to finish with a Third Class which left me feeling sad and hopeless. Years ago, some months before I started my youth service, I applied for an internship position at many large organizations but got rejected. Reality dawned on me, I had few job options, it’s either I go for masters or a top up degree after service was over, or stay jobless. Few months towards the end of my service, my elder sister informed me her friend was looking to get an intern for a social media role at his marketing agency a startup. Although the duration of the internship was for three months and without pay, it didn't matter much to me, I just wanted a job to gain some experience and get me busy. I was offered a three months internship letter and resumed work almost immediately.

It was my first experience at the workplace, it was so different from the classroom, everyone looking into their business, various personalities, and despite the fact we were few in number there was so much office tension and politics going on. I encountered two major challenges at work, firstly was the pressure that came with the job, secondly the pressure that came with relating with my colleagues. I had to learn a whole lot really fast.  My first headache I encountered on the job was sending an official mail, I would stare at my system a for 15 min to read and reread my composed mail for at least 10 times before sending the mail, only to still discover errors after I hit the send button. Tasks such as preparing a proposal, collation and analysis of data took me more than the average time to complete. Realizing quickly I wasn't prepared or qualified for the workplace, I took the initiative and enrolled for some online courses which was quite challenging. Also I would say working with a team to achieve a common objective, was the most frustrating angle for me at work, I had to learn emotional intelligence and conflict management the hard way after many quarrels and fall out with some of my colleagues, but thankfully as time went by I learnt to be diplomatic and to work in peace even with the most difficult colleague at the agency.

A month passed by, the new acquired skill of mine paid off, I completed task faster and more efficiently.  I clearly understood the workplace setting wasn't the place to get personal or complain, it was a place to add value, a place of productivity. By the second month of my internship, my boss noticed how efficient and reliable I was and made me a full staff, which off course also came with a pay cheque, by the third month, I was promoted and made a brand manager, single handedly overseeing projects at the same time training new interns. Most of my colleges couldn't believe it, I couldn’t either. However, things just didn’t happen like that, within those three months I had to stay late, most times beyond the official closing time, making sure the task was completed and not procrastinating or taking second chances. I took on task given to me that wasn't part of my job description, took many hits for my team, knowing the failure of one is the failure of all. I had the mind of getting the job done no matter what it took, whenever I hit a roadblock due to limited knowledge or inadequate skill, I had to take classes, read many books and ask many questions, it was a rigorous process but it was worth it.

By the time I was rounding up with my youth corps, a senior colleague advised me to sign up on LinkedIn and upload all the experience I gained at the agency, I did as he advised. A month after my youth service, I was approached on LinkedIn by the HR person of a multinational corporation who had extended their business to Nigeria 7 years ago. We had a brief chart on skype, and he informed me he had been searching on LinkedIn for a lady with my specific qualification and experience. He claimed the company was looking for a marketing head for a new product, and were willing to negotiate a salary with me in dollars. When I heard this I laughed out loud, saying to myself in my native tongue "awon 419” meaning 419 people. I confided in my senior colleague and told him about my new offer, he also laughed and said it definitely wasn’t real. When the human resource person asked the annual salary I was comfortable to receive, we decided to throw them an absurd amount in dollars so we could laugh real hard at his next response, but to my surprise he said alright, he immediately shared a mail with me and copied his team. That didn't make me doubt less because I know the length fraudsters can go to dupe you. He later shared a date for my interview but I had to a lot of work researching the company, asking many questions, and finally on the day of my interview my dad had to follow me to make sure it was legit. To my surprise we approached a nice building filled with workers going about their business. I was interviewed by a foreigner; he asked many questions, mostly about my experience at the agency. I was invited for a second and third interview both on different days. Two weeks later I was given an offer letter, with salary more than 10x what I was earning at the agency.

I couldn't believe it, it was like a dream, with my grade at school and little experience I wasn't expecting to get a job with a high paying salary almost immediately after my Nysc. Since then I have quickly moved up the ladder in my career. I have managed different teams, gained more experience in and out of my area of expertise, travelled internationally for business meetings, conferences and received an internationally recognized award. From time to time I ponder how I got to where I am today, some people call it pure luck, some say it's just favor, but I would say it was favor mixed with focus and hard work.

So are you a new graduate, newly employed, jobseeker or student? You are in luck, unlike me you don’t have to learn the hard way the foundational skills needed to be effective at work. The Workplace Readiness Academy offers a 1 week training on the essential skills (soft skills, hard skills, ethics and morals) required to grow and be excellence at workplace. Our aim is to give new graduates and career entrants an edge among their peers and set them up for success despite the challenges they would most likely encounter at their future places of work.

Woracademy graduates will also have the opportunity for a 3 month internship in some of the best startups in Nigeria to gain some experience.

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If I can do it, you can do it much better!