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Japa Story: This is how I left Nigeria and got a job as a business analyst in the UK

Aminat pushed back against the myth that Nigerian immigrants can only do low-income healthcare work in the UK.

This image was generated using the AI model DALL·E

When she finally got a job four years later, even with her MBA, it was a front desk role. So she decided Nigeria had nothing else to offer her, japa-ed to the UK and is now living her dreams.

In this week’s Japa Story, Aminat pushed back against the myth that Nigerian immigrants can only do low-income healthcare work in the UK.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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To be honest, I had not been someone who just wanted to relocate or travel. I have always been an advocate for Nigeria is good. But in 2022 my mindset just changed. I graduated in 2017. Academically I was sound. But I didn't get a job until 2021. It took me four years to get a job. I applied for anything, assistant, front desk. I got an MBA. At a point, I learnt makeup.

I wanted a corporate career. But I couldn’t sit at home in my parents’ house and become a nuisance. It was a dark period. I was depressed. I was almost suicidal, because when you know you’re good at something, but it's like you don't know anybody, so you can't get a job. Some employers wanted to sleep with me.

When I finally got a job it was a front desk role, even with my MBA. In one month I was promoted to Marketing Associate. But the pay was terrible. I could not sustain myself on it. I could not even pay my bills for a month. I was still squatting. So in 2022, I decided to leave. I wanted to do a master's anyway, so my mindset was if the UK didn’t favour me, I would return to Nigeria after my master's.

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The main expense is the school fees. My tuition was £14,500. But I had to pay £4,000 before leaving Nigeria. I paid £7,500. Everything I spent plus school fees and IELTS and all was over ₦10 million. Plus my husband, it went over ₦15 million. And this is aside from flight tickets. I studied Business and Management. I came first before my husband joined me because I had to resume. I stayed at my cousin's place first. My husband joined me two months later.

Nope. That is another story. To be able to get accommodation here you need to show that you’re earning enough to cover your rent. I wanted a one-bed flat and I was a student working 20 hours. There’s no way to do it. 20 hours cannot foot that bill. My husband had not gotten a job yet, so they were not willing to give me the house. We were living in different cities. He was with his family in England and I was in Scotland. It wasn’t easy. When you relocate, I think some people just expect everything to be rosy. Most of them are just very delulu.

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But the house we eventually got, I explained to the agent my plight and she gave us the house. Most of them here are reasonable.

My MSc experience has been my best school experience. It was extremely interesting and fun. It's totally different from Nigeria. In fact, what I learnt in my one-year MSc, I didn’t even learn in my MBA. I discovered a new aspect of myself. In school, they gave us the opportunity to go out and express ourselves. It shaped my writing, thinking and presentation skills. The teachers were in a good state of mind. They are not frustrated. They are there because they want to pour into you. This fear we have for our lecturers? It’s not there. You can send emails and argue with them. No one will call you disrespectful.

My first job was working as a health care support worker. It was a domiciliary job. So I go to the house of my patients and take them out. Make their meals for them etc.

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It wasn’t easy. You need to be mentally prepared for it. Walking on the road with an autistic or old person in the cold can be tough. I did that for three months because it was very stressful coping with school. Then I got another one as a support worker in a care home. But I wasn't taking them out. It was at a rehab. Then I left that one for my current job now. I currently work as a business analyst.

Yes, it's very decent. This was what I have always wanted to do. I came into this country with a plan. I got this business analyst job even before I finished school. I did lots of training and got many certifications.

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I spent like £4,000. It's not just one, a series of trainings. When you move abroad you need to understand that certifications are very important. Some took three months, some took six. The people you surround yourself with here matter a lot. There are people that believe you can't do corporate jobs here. But my husband and I both do corporate jobs. It's not easy. It's very difficult, but it's doable. A lot of my friends are in the corporate world. People might say “Racism. They won't give you because you’re black.” If you’re good, you will get it.

I applied for many jobs. I did my CV myself. You don’t give up. If I show you my email, it's filled with, ‘Unfortunately...’ I woke up one day and asked my husband if my middle name was Unfortunately. Buy you keep adjusting your CV to the job specification. Use LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor. When you move abroad, you cannot be lazy. You must research. You can’t just stay in one place and think that it will come. You must work for it.

It was tough. There were three stages; online, group and presentation. They wanted to see communication skills. It was physical, not virtual. Before then, I had done a two-month internship. Just apply for anything; internship, a day in my life, apprenticeship. I prepared for the interview. I had done like 10 interviews before I got the job. I slept on the company’s website to find out everything.

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It has been a lot. When I first got here I was scared because in Nigeria if your manager says A you can't say B. But my manager here encouraged me and I did some workshops. The support, the guidance, everything has been like I was dreaming. And my colleagues and manager are all white. People are nice.

When I was in Glasgow our monthly bill with rent, electricity and all was like £1,000. But we moved to London, which is very expensive and our monthly bill is £2000. We were lucky to get accommodation that wasn't like the regular London price.

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You have to have worked in the UK for 5 years or lived here for 10 years before you can apply for citizenship. Because I started working my current job while I was still in school, I'm on the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) citizenship track. It means I have to be working for a company that will sponsor my work permit for the next five years. It is what happens when you're in another person's country.

I miss the food and the noise of Lagos. But I can’t live there.

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