A first degree may just be your springboard, use it! Lessons along the way – Part Two

When I gained admission into the university, I was ecstatic! For two reasons – firstly, getting in was very competitive, and secondly, against my best judgment, I put all my eggs into one basket and applied to just one university! That was a huge gamble that thankfully did not lead to a lifetime of regret.


But it was not long after I started my journey as an undergraduate that I started hearing comments like, what will you do with linguistics and theatre arts? Will you become a political scientist after your first degree? Or maybe a philosopher?


The University of Ghana offered me a liberal arts education. I studied Linguistics, Philosophy, Theatre Arts, and Political Science. I completed my four-year journey as a Political Science major.


When I was in school, I kept hearing, “Get a profession”. Unfortunately, no one told me “how” to get a profession. They just talked down what I was doing and confused me completely!


Thankfully, as a teenager, I had imbibed a mantra, “whatever your hands find to do, do it well”. So, I embraced what I had and aced my classes. I graduated with first-class honors. The feeling on graduation day was wonderful. My name was mentioned, and I walked, shoulders high to the dais to shake hands with the dignitaries present. It was a day of achievement and remains one of my proudest moments. However, I soon realized that there was more to succeeding in the world of work than having a stellar certificate and academic laurels.


In doing ‘whatever’ my hands found, I “met” marketing and we fell in love. It was not difficult deciding to pursue marketing as a profession and two years after I joined the world of work, I started my journey towards becoming a chartered marketer. That relationship has been interesting, fulfilling, and worth every investment made.


Marketing aligns with my natural abilities and strengths. It thrives on my storytelling ability, my warm personality, and my ability to start and finish important tasks. But Marketing has no direct relationship with any of my undergraduate courses. What my undergraduate experience gave me was a springboard. It was a starting point. A first degree is supposed to help you develop the ability to think, solve problems, develop a worldview, experience dissenting ideas and perspectives, and allow you to question things. It is an opportunity for exposure and learning. Additionally, being a member of a university community provides the opportunity to interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds in a melting pot. Some of my most cherished friendships were initiated on campus. That first degree may not give you all you need to succeed in the world of work – either soft skills or hard skills but it is a great starting point.


Making time for extracurricular activities, being socially involved in the community, and being properly integrated are also opportunities. Extracurricular activities that involve groups – campus clubs, for instance, can help a young person develop leadership skills and the ability to work in a team. There are significant benefits in the long term.


On my path, I discovered that one has to be doggedly focused on and committed to one’s path when it comes to your career. The volume of information about any single course of action may be so enormous and varied that you may get confused. The naysayers may also be louder than the encouragers. So even though it’s great to seek out advice from mentors, colleagues, and family, be determined to get on a personal journey towards your goals. Own your career path and make the tough decision required. Let your search for information be scientific and not based on hearsay. Do not choose a path because “that’s what everyone else is doing”, but be sure that is what you want to do and that the prospects align with your goals. Will you fully understand everything at the beginning? No. But as you start working towards your goals, the bigger picture will unfold.


If you’re consistently working to improve yourself, working on being your best version, taking the opportunities you get, and doing your 200% best, you will be fine.


So, relax, embrace your undergraduate education as a starting point, and don’t let anyone discourage you.

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