Regrets of a Jobless Graduate: Career Mistakes I Shouldn’t Have Made

I remember being in school and thinking I had all the time in the world and would never have to worry about any future career. Those days were spent going to parties, playing too much football and meeting new girls every week.

I had thought it would be enough to just pass my courses and leave school with at least a good grade. Nobody told me the world out there is a place where they eat their young, where nobody cares how you feel or what you want and where everybody is for himself first and himself second.

If I had known the real situation in today’s labour market I would have done things differently in school. A mentor told some weeks back that the period of being a student is probably the best time to plot and plan for a successful career.

The things I regret doing and not doing in school?

I Didn’t Have An Idea of What Sort of Career I Will Pursue

This makes me more or less a rudderless ship with absolutely no focus. If I had given some time and thought to what I wanted to be and do after school I would have started equipping myself then and perhaps be in a stronger position now to get the kind of job and career I want. Now I’ll just have to do catch up. Better late than never as I have just decided what I want to do with my life. Not that it makes it any easier but at least I can get started now acquiring the needed skills, building the connections etc. If only I had decided earlier!

I focused Too Much on the Wrong Extra Curricular Activities

Football, Exercises, Parties are all good forms of passing leisure time in school but I regret overdoing them to the detriment of my future career. I didn’t care to find and get involved in career related extra-curricular activities. I joined no professional groups in my field and I didn’t care about learning all I could about my industry and the people who make things tick in the industry.

I Didn’t Network and So I Failed to Get a Mentor

Just recently I realized the serious power of having a mentor who really likes you and wants to help you grow. A friend of mine had got close to a prominent architect (who then also was his state’s house of assembly speaker) through his son. He ran errands for the architect and spent a healthy part of his leisure time helping out in one form or the other in the man’s firm.

As an aspiring architect himself he wanted to know all he could from his mentor. Note that he never for once formally asked the architect to be his mentor. He just got himself introduced to the man and proceeded to make himself very useful and attached to him. With time the speaker/architect began to see him as a professional son (you know what that means?).

To cut the long story short some months ago my friend got himself a very very palatable job in a big construction firm courtesy of some useful information and recommendation from his professional mentor. Here I am wishing I knew what my friend knew. I hardly know anybody that matters in my field and I just discovered that for many jobs the weight of your referee counts.

I even stayed away when Mr Pat Utomi came to my school for an interactive session with students even though I liked the man a great deal and see him as one of my role models professionally. I was busy somewhere else the day he came but those who attended said they left the venue better focused. I could have even had the opportunity to meet him in person and find a way to be of great use and value to him. That opportunity was gone because then I didn’t care about meeting people who could help me on my way up later in life. I was busy spending my whole time with people who were either at my level or even below.

I should have had some little time to seek connections, friendship and mentor-ships from people more skilled, experienced and influential than I was.

If I had the chance again I would certainly put things right. I would share my time wisely. However all hope is not lost. At least now I am beginning to know what my challenges are. Hopefully I can gain lost ground and quickly build a career I can be proud of.

About Paul

Paul Eze is the Co-founder and CEO at NGCareers. He is an avid writer. Connect with Paul on Twitter

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