I would like to use this platform to congratulate all my brothers and sisters who have successfully completed their first degree in all corners of the nation and are awaiting their national service.
The journey has not been easy because, I charted a similar path in 2010 and graciously completed in 2014. So I know what it means to say the journey has not been easy. You guys have set ablaze, a path that is worthy to be emulated and in humility, I doff my hat to you for not giving up on your dreams. Your reward awaits you; I know that for sure.
I would like to angle in by welcoming you to the corporate world since you will soon be doing your national service -the mandatory one year service to the Government of Ghana.
That is another hurdle to be crossed and I know the grace of God will take you through successfully. As I plunge into my message, I want to remind you of the Akan proverb which translates in English as, “the one behind always learns from the one in front.”
It is on this premise that I would like to share with you some things you must know and keep in mind prior to your national service.
1-Up Your Basic Computer Skills
The first thing I would like to advice is that you acquire an in-depth knowledge in the use of MS Office applications. I mean playing around with the applications (Excel, PowerPoint presentation and Word) .This is because, in the corporate world, the Microsoft applications run the show in terms of reporting, sending mails and doing presentations.
Depending on where you find yourself in an organization, in this digital era, you will certainly use one of these applications in all you do at work. The good thing is, they make work easier and make you smarter and everyone would love to work with you when they see your potential.
Also, knowing how to use the internet is an important thing. My first Boss after service once said, “YouTube is where I learn everything. Nobody taught me how to do these things, but YouTube.”
Learn how to use the internet to your advantage. Remember that nobody would want to babysit you at the work place.
2- Build an Attitude of Reading
This period after school is one of the best moments for you to develop a taste for reading (the Bible and other good books). This is something I failed to do after Senior High School and University as well. So, I want to emphasize on the benefits of reading.
From Ben Carson’s Book “Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence” he says, “Knowledge is the key that unlocks all the doors. You can be green-skinned with yellow polka dots and come from Mars, but if you have knowledge that people need instead of beating you, they will beat a path to your door.”
I experienced this when I led a team of 5 in 2014 to the first ever Business School Discourse
organized in KNUST. UDS Business School’s performance dwarfed that of the host school, UGBS and UCC Business School. I am not shaming any school but the point I want to make is, because of our performance, we were loved by all who graced the occasion.
Reading would let people love you because of the knowledge you have acquired. Your ability to eloquently express yourself when communicating with other people can best be realised when you do a lot of reading. Knowledge is power they say and your ability to express yourself endears others to you. Friends, your ineptitude to communicate well, will hardly place you on the table of recognition. Your Boss would love to hear you defend a project you have worked on. “If we commit ourselves to reading thus increasing our knowledge, only God limits how far we can go in this world.”-Ben Carson
3- Make time for God
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths”. Always ask the Lord for His guidance and He will direct your path. This is one best moment to spend time communicating with God making your request known and asking for His will to be done in your life. I would not want to touch on prayer without acknowledging faith and works. Prayer is meaningless without faith and godly living. Meaning prayer works when we have believed in God and have lived a godly life.
Ask God to help you identify your potentials by posting you to the field where your potentials can be realized and used appropriately so that you can rise to the top of the field in future.
Ellen G. White “If you will find voice and time to pray, God will find time and voice to answer.”
4-Guard Your Attitude
No matter how smart you are, you can never win the heart of your employer if you don’t have the right attitude. Your smartness on the job is accepted when you have attired yourself in the right attitude. My current boss said to me after we had met to discuss my role, “Samuel, I like people with attitude. A good attitude! And if you have one, then I would have no problem working with you”. Even when you have the right attitude but with a poor performance, you are likely to gain the honour of being groomed. On the contrary, if you are the best performer with the wrong attitude, you are likely to lose your job. When I say right attitude, I mean having a good interpersonal relationship, willingness to learn, keeping a good appearance, being punctual, following the rules and regulations of the organization, working hard, etc.
It’s imperative to have a good attitude when you want to be successful in the corporate world so lay down the bad attitude and gird yourself with the right attitude and you shall surely go far.
A Boss in my current organization once said, “I like people who dress well, because a person that is able to take care of his appearance can take care of his work as well”. This was iterated by my current boss when I met with him the first day “Samuel, I like people who dress well. So if you can work well with me, you must look good all times.”
Appearance they say is deceptive but not in the corporate world when your first form of communication is how you appear. To those of you who want to serve in the banking sector or any related sector, you must remember that your appearance is very imperative as your role. Begin to practice appearing good if you are not good at.
Learn to look presentable and always maintain a “no body odour” policy. You will work with people so you need to respect that.
6- Be Mentally Prepared
I remember where I did my service, one of the bosses told us that we did not wear the graduation gown for life, it meant we were matured enough to reason and make productive decisions so we must sit up.
That was at the early stages of my service. And I always admire him for saying that to me. So I want to ask how prepared you are for the corporate world. I mean you have to be smart in your thinking.
Be ready to analyse issues, criticize constructively and also accept to be criticized if you want to stand out. Make it a point to change the norm provided your change will increase productivity. Don’t be bothered about your class. It’s just a paper. This is another opportunity for you to prove you are smart and that you don’t need to be examined theoretically. You must put on your thinking cap.
7- Be Confident
In addition the earlier points raised is Confidence. Some people naturally undermine themselves. They look down upon what they can do. This will make you feel intimidated especially if you should find yourself in an international organization where people are naturally confident with all due respect to our local organizations. Think and believe you are valuable. I mean you must believe in yourself and your capabilities. Don’t look down upon yourself but have a good feeling within you and you know that you can’t be intimidated. Practice being confident until you are really confident.
8 – Up Your Networking Skills
Having a strong network in today’s job market is imperative to the survival of your profession. The tales of the “mugus” began from it and still serves as one big conduit of identifying breakthrough point in the corporate world. Coiling into your shells and trusting in individualism is self-destructive button, pressed.
Remember, man is a social being and not born for solitary. So learn to build a strong network that will turn stones and open your potential opportunities to your professional survival. Remember that when preparation meets opportunity, success is inevitable except when it is not the will of God.
The corporate world hosts a lot of people with plethora of options. The weak minds, unprepared individuals and visionless fellows will slack and blame. However, when the aforementioned ideals are considered in good faith, the upshot will be a sprouted seedling with hopeful fruits. That is the future I wish you embrace. God be with you.