• Every year, African universities churn out millions of graduates into the job market.
  • So, what is the secret of job hunting and how can one increase their chances of securing that dream job?
  • Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa spoke with Sylvia Kunkyebe, Assistant Director of Career Services at Ashesi University on job tips fresh graduates need to know once they graduate.

Every year, African universities churn out millions of graduates into the job market.

Not every graduate is, however, that lucky to get a job immediately after they finish school. On the other hand, some graduates manage to find jobs within weeks of graduation.

So, what is the secret of job hunting and how can one increase their chances of securing that dream job?

Ashesi University Ashesi University

During a stakeholder’s forum, organized by Ashesi University to discuss ways through which stakeholders can collaboratively develop and engage with young Kenyan talent through the Mastercard Foundation Scholars (MCF) program, Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa spoke with Sylvia Kunkyebe, Assistant Director of Career Services at Ashesi University on job tips that fresh graduates need to know once they graduate.

“In a nutshell, my job involves helping the students transition from school to work, that is giving them all the skills they need to be employable, the soft skills they need to combine with their degree to be able to land the jobs and succeed in their careers,” Kunkyebe told Business Insider.

Sylvia Kunkyebe, Assistant Director of career services at Ashesi University Sylvia Kunkyebe, Assistant Director of career services at Ashesi University

Several employers, internship supervisors, alumni, students, parents/guardians of students, and personnel working within school systems managed to grace the two-day event held at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

Also read: We spoke to a Kenyan executive who runs a successful tour and travel company on 5 things she checks on CVs before hiring

Ashesi University is a private college located in Ghana, West Africa and is one of the finest universities in the continent. It has a proven track record of preparing students for leadership and entrepreneurship and considered to be among the top ten best universities’ in Ghana.

Here are five tips when looking for a job according to Sylvia Kunkyebe.

1.Know You

A happy graduate from Ashesi University A happy graduate from Ashesi University

You need to go through that process of self-discovery and finding out for yourself what you really want to do with the skills that you have gotten in school before plunging head-on into the job market says Ms. Kunkyebe.

“First of all, to land anything you need to know you, you need to spend time with yourself and ask yourself what you really want to do and what is driving that, what are your passions and what are your future long-term goals.

2. Network and Network More

The Cornfield & Archer Courtyard at Ashesi The Cornfield & Archer Courtyard at Ashesi

Once you have discovered yourself it then makes sense to reach out to people and start networking.

“In that networking, you are very particular about the people who can lead you to opportunities that you have identified and are interested in pursuing. You need to have people who can show you the ropes on how to get there. You also need to network with people who can mention your name at the right time for you to land that job opportunity because you can’t be everywhere and opportunities spring up everywhere so you need people who will be in the right place to recommend you and vouch for you.” says Ms. Kunkyebe.

3. Be Willing To Start From The Bottom

The Ashesi basketball team goes through training drills as they prepare for a match The Ashesi basketball team goes through training drills as they prepare for a match

Sylvia says fresh graduates always make the mistake of thinking because they were the best in their class plum jobs should be falling on their laps. So, you find a fresh graduate who thinks they are going to get a $1000 salary and come with all sorts of expectations.

“You are the best on paper but that doesn’t mean you are the best on the job. No matter what your degree is you will still need to do a lot of learning when you start working. So the humility to start from the bottom and work your way to the top as well as the willingness to learn are key to your success and promotion on the job.”

Some of Ashesi graduates. Some of Ashesi graduates.

Adds that graduates need to prove themselves first before the companies can even think of investing that much in them.

“You need to prove yourself to be able to earn the big salaries and perks that you dream of. It is true that you are intelligent and come with fresh ideas that can revolutionize your employers business but also remember that you are just one of how many millions of youths in Africa who are equally smart so be humble and work hard."

4. Be Intentional From The Word Go

Students walk past the Cornfield and Archer Courtyard at Ashesi University Students walk past the Cornfield and Archer Courtyard at Ashesi University

Sylvia says getting a job is one thing and moving up the ranks to the top is another thing and graduates need to be careful not to be just another cog in the company once they get an opportunity.

“Once you start working at whichever position you have been offered you have to be very intentional about finding your champions. You have to identify your mentors withing the organisation, who can help you develop professionally as well as champions who will recommend you for opportunities within the organization including promotions. You also need mentors outside your organization that can mentor you and give you unbiased perspectives to challenges you are confronted with. Even if your first job is not your dream job, your mentors and champions can help you get that dream job eventually.”

5. Be Open Minded

A view of the Warren Library at Ashesi, from the Cornfield and Archer Courtyard A view of the Warren Library at Ashesi, from the Cornfield and Archer Courtyard

The world keeps changing and so does the job market so one has to learn to move with the times and seize opportunities as they arise.

“As Human beings we evolve, societies evolves, economies evolve, things evolve and technology evolves and so you should be willing to evolve too. You can’t be stuck doing one thing just because it is what you have been trained to do or it is the only thing you want to do for the rest of your my life. Evolve with the times and stay relevant,” says Ms. Kunkyebe.