Ten tips on becoming a sucessful ex-corper

nigerian corper
A Nigerian corper celebrating his passing out
Corper wee is no longer an Otondo, but a fresh job seeker or  if he is wise enough,an employer of labour already. No more parades, early morning wake up calls, drills or CDs. You might have lived a life of bliss or discomfort , whatever the case, in your bid to serve your fatherland. Am sure you no longer remember the NYSC anthem a day after POP  because you are faced with answering the big question So What next? So many decisions to make, but  limited options to choose from.
To whom much is given,much is expected.  Parents, siblings, colleagues and waiting for the next big announcement from you.  A wedding, new employment or project , a secured deal,  big contract or relocation. Now the favorite question on everyone's lips is "What will you be  doing now?"
For some the question can be easily answered immediately , while others take a year or more to find a suitable answer. While you ponder on your future,here are 10 wise  tips to help you as a ex-corper find your feet and stand out from others.

1.) Build a network of friends : 

 In the world where "connections" thrive, Think of relationships and friendships cultivated and built as investments, the rewards will come sooner than you think. My first set of clients were former class mates and fellow otondos.  Most corpers forget the purpose of the national  youth service scheme, which is mainly to bring  Nigerian youths together from different tribes and backgrounds to share ideas, learn, become more exposed and mix.  Always try to make friends, you will be surprised at what some will  turn out to be in the future. Thanks to  social media, you can always keep in touch . Start a forum with your friends to share job updates and Join an email ,bbm, or Facebook  group to get career leads . Be careful to choose your friends wisely, better still ,classify them in your database as close friends, acquaintances, future clients or soon-to-be deleted.  Its good to take pictures , exchange information (phone numbers, social media handles, bbm pins, emails), they act as reminder of great moments  shared and can be of good use later.   Do follow up once in a while just to keep in touch.

2. ) Do not leave it too late:  

Send out your C.Vs. to as many potential companies as possible. There is no harm in trying, you might get lucky.  Not only companies in big cities (Lagos, Portharcourt or Abuja) but include those in the area you where posted to. Don't wait till the final rush after the passing out parade or just hope you will be retained by your place of primary assignment (P.A).  There is no shyness when you are seeking for a  better living , leave your cocoon, relate more, well thanks to smart phones, you can also do this from the comfort of your bed. Tell all your friends, family members and colleagues what you are in need of.  Don't trust an "Uncle" high up who has always been promising you a job just after you finish school. You don't want to feel disappointed afterwards if he does not pull through. That is the more  reason why you need to tell as many people as possible. If you are self-employed and seek patronage, your closed ones will  possibly be your `first set of clients, your mouth piece and advert board. Engage their help.

3.)  Always Have a plan B:

Its alright if you want to work for an oil company, a big multinational or get a recording deal worth millions. That's your first choice right, but have a alternative plan or a plan for a worst case scenario. These are trying times, its a race of survival of the fittest and its only those who are smart that really do survive. Your success will not be determined by how many "links"  or " "First-class degrees" you have but by how you can successfully manage what you have and put them to use at the  right time. If your dream job is not coming through yet, Dont be in a rut, take another one though the pay is less , volunteer in your local community or consider Selling either on behalf of yourself or others. Whatever your passion lies in, sell it, it can be  business idea or a tangible item like pairs of used shoes occupying space in your wardrobe. Set a target and achieve it.At the end, its another experience added to your resume. No employer like seeing a C.V that has  2 years gap unaccounted for like roadblocks . It shows you have no ambition , can take no initiative and bot to be taken seriously.

4) Be professional , Act professional:

Your status has changed, you are no longer an undergraduate spoon-fed by parents and lecturers. You are a full fledged adult now expected to take responsibility for his actions or inactions. What will make you standout from others and have an edge is you getting your acts together. Have a resume  and cover letter professionally written and keep it handy. Have a backup too  (in your mail, Dropbox or phone). When I say professionally, it doesn't mean you have to hire writers, you can write one yourself, after all there are loads of samples online, but have a professional review it , to help correct errors or check its presentation. First impression matters, your resume should advertise you properly  without you being physically present to defend yourself.
For job seekers, your C.v can be the same, but your cover letter  addressed appropriately as information like  position applied for, company head may change. When called for an interview or business presentation dress suitably. You need to watch Frank Donga's interview scenarios to know the reasons why some applicants fail from the first interview, the videos may be hilarious but you will be surprised that the scenarios are realistic.
Do you know your social media profiles can be used to judge you? Recent surveys have revealed many employers take time to study a potential client  just by taking a sniff through his social media accounts. They can easily detect your habits and have a good perception of who you are. So be careful of what you put online or post for the world to see,  I know a fried who deleted all her Facebook pictures after it cause d a minor stir in her place of work. Filter your friends, check for spams or hacks who post nudes or controversial posts on your wall and delete them immediately.

4) Retrain, Upgrade and reinvent yourself:

 Learning is always a continuous process, you learn till you die, as long as your brain is working, put it to better use.  Many fail to get their dream jobs or clinch the business deals for lack of preparation, planning and inadequate knowledge.  Get a masters degree, be professionally certified in your field (don't accumulate dust, just the ones you need), join a relevant body or association (NSE, COREN, NBA, Makeup guild , chartered something or the other) .  If your role model is coming to town, find time to attend his event and be there. Be identified with a skill and develop it ( writing, photography,marketing) , it may turn out to be profitable later  Attend job fairs, workshops, seminars and trainings, some are free so seize the opportunity to gain more exposure, improve your experience and network with other professionals.  These events are probably the only place you can get to meet potential employers one on one and make an application in person, after all thousands of  job applications get  lost or remain as unread mails.Subscribe to job magazines, blogs or websites online and follow updates regularly.

5.) Know you are not alone

Don't ever feel desperate or frustrated , do you remember how many other corpers attended the passing out the parade with you? or the long list of  corpers  in the corpers' directory  who are also also in your set.  Multiply those numbers by 36 states, add to it other batches  (A,B or C) of corpers, unemployed graduates from previous sets, some many years in waiting, other job seekers who are non-graduates , just subtract a small fraction of those who are gainfully employed either  earning above or below minimum wage. You will be amazed at the statistics you come up with. So don't for a moment think its only happening to you, but if you  have a will to survive, you will surely come out stronger and have a success story to retell. Don't compromise on your values, sell your body, join scammers, robbers or be a desperado. It only leads to regrets and ruin later. Read biographies and success stories of others and be encouraged. Water will always find its own level. Move and relate with only those who can add value to you.

6.) Set your priorities right:

 What and who matters to you most? What will be the most important factor influencing your final decision ?  Your  present age,interests, location, marital status,financial resources or  government policies are some factors to be analysed when considering the next big step.  In event when the jobs offered come with age  restrictions, set limits on how high you can climb in the industry hierarchy, frowned on by your spouse (Who you must agree with for peace to reign),  requires much traveling, or its security is determined by government rules. Are you willing to settle for less or take it no matter the consequence?  Consider your options well and Think deeply  before you gets yourself engaged,no one likes inconsistency in a worker.  If paid work is not ideal for you , try out freelancing or self-employment.
No one can dictate how you live your life, or live it for you. Agreed.  But always carry those who matter to you or can influence your decision along in the decision making process. Its  also good to have moral if not financial support  during your "waiting" period. Don't be consumed by excesses, have a time frame, set targets, check mails regularly, but  don't spend all day online, eat well, exercise, relax and have a social life. Seek counsel,keep a circle of friends who are ready to encourage you. Read motivational books, listen to inspiring speakers, the right solution is usually within reach waiting for a word to make it come alive.

7.) Don't fall a victim

 Remember your personal data is out there for scammers and never-do-wells to use for their evil purposes. It will be so unfortunate that in your quest for a better life, you get scammed or hood-winked into shady deals too. There have been reported cases of individuals/companies promising heaven on earth jobs and lucrative deals,they sound so convincing, you will almost believe them, but be careful , you can only fall their prey if you are our desperate or greedy. Avoid all get rich quick network schemes, I almost fell a victim years ago.Watch out for scam job sites, or those sms texts and emails inviting you for numerous interviews or asking you to pay money  before offering jobs. Some even ask for commissions on salaries. They are all dupes.including some job adverts in major newspapers.  Only trust recommended job sites and verify the companies, do a google research or ask around from friends or colleagues on their experience , if possible get inside information.

8.)  Have a budget and save:

Start saving from now, take some sum out of the corper's allowance and  salary received from your P.A , save and leave it untouched. It may be your saving grace later. The amount saved can be enough to tide you over in the trying times or start a new business.  Little drops make a pool of water, if possible have multiple streams of income till you land the one job you desire. I used to help out in decorating my church and making snacks to have upkeep money as I can no longer request for money from home. Live responsibly,don't be a money waster or eat your future with both hands. Now is not the time to live recklessly or show off except your father is an oil baron or powerful politician. Once you have a secured source of income, you can squander it if you want to,but a  financially responsible life gives one less headaches.

9.)  Always follow your passion, not the money;

If I start with how many successful makeup artists nowadays are also engineers or  how many professional lawyers turned photographers or  bankers  turned popular comedians, you will be surprised. Its not always by what you studied or did not study.  The most important advice you will ever receive is to do what you love, that meaningless hobby you have now  may turn out to be the money -spinning venture in months to come. Do not be consumed by negativity coming your way or allow anyone put a stop to your shine.The reason for  the  community development projects engaged in and volunteer groups  joined while serving were not just time wasters but to help  develop  interests or talents and contribute  meaningfully to the society.  If writing is your passion, write for your corper's journal or send in articles to favorite blogs for publication. Do you love singing,painting, taking pictures, beautifying others, managing resources, doing PR? Then don't wait till tomorrow, act on it now.

10.) Have faith 

Belief in God, no  matter your religion ,is what will eventually keep you gong when every other thing fails . He will eventually come through for you.  Meditate, reflect and cultivate a heart of gratitude no matter the circumstances.
Be sensitive to opportunities around you, There is no place you can't survive  within or outside Nigeria , no city  is better once you find your purpose and locate where you are meant to be. Seek for God's direction so you will be tuned to know what is expected of you and where you are to carry it out,so you don't labour in vain. After all, Dangote didn't start out in Abuja, Lagos or London.  Some people even made the internet their local community like Zuckerberg who made Facebook

his own country and its now richer than the wealth of some countries combined together. As for me , am a christian and several times it has been proven that if you seek God diligently, pray,engage in acts of selfless service in place of worship and society, you will be blessed with your heart desires. Its the way it works, Often, when you are not expecting much is when you be showered with requests and call-ups. It has happened to me, so I can tell.

Finally, remember that every challenge is an opportunity for you to learn, grow and reach new heights. Don’t fear failure and step out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve new things in life.

Christina

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