IN PURSUIT OF MY DREAM CAREER – By Maina Njeru

“Sitting in my room just at the break of dawn, I smile and sigh because my dream career is finally turning to reality.


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“Sitting in my room just at the break of dawn, I smile and sigh because my dream career is finally turning to reality.

The date in March 2012 is still fresh in my mind. Just as my internship program is coming to an end, I apply for the graduate program at (in my opinion), one of the best companies to work for in East Africa. This program, FYI, is an extremely competitive program with a rigorous interview process. I read and re-read all the interview stages and I am fascinated by the company’s desire to fish out the top crop from the vast pool of ambitious candidates. An hour and a half later, I complete my final essay and click the icon “send application”. My journey begins.

Knowing that the program starts in Fall, I go on to pursue another internship with a Training Firm, with a plan to sharpen my skills and better position myself to thrive when I get a job in this dream organization. I proceed on to the interview stages and a highlight comes when we attend the assessment center where all the candidates of the respective business function come together to be assessed on individual capabilities and group dynamics. This provides a great opportunity to show my team work strengths and by the Grace of God, I emerge victorious and qualify for the next round of executive interviews.

This is when a different season in life kicks in. My dream firm halts recruitment into this program and my world almost collapses right before my very eyes. Never before have I felt so close and yet so far. I ask myself so many questions but with the help of my support pillar of mentors and friends, a lot who are Brand Ambassadors at Africatalentbank.com (ATB), I choose not to give up hope but continue hoping for the best outcome. Despite my despair, I continue my career growth and pick up skills which one day I hope, I will be able to use in my dream job.

Meanwhile (since my dream job is on hold), I interview with a leading retail firm and eventually secure a job. During this period, a great friend of mine tells me not to view this job as a transition but rather, as my assignment and to give it my very best. These words sink in deep and I go on to give it my best. This opportunity turns out to be interesting and challenging as well as a great learning experience. I gain relevant information and technical know-how into an industry I had previously not envisioned joining. This is when I appreciate the importance of having flexibility as a core ingredient in pursuit of one’s dreams because we as Generation Y, tend to be rigid when it comes to negotiating with life on what we want out of it. While the fiscal take-home is low in the role, the experience, exposure and network take-homes are very high. Yes, contrary to what I thought on campus, it is not all about the money. The challenges faced in the line of duty made me a more resilient person, helped me to become a better negotiator and toughened me up.

All the while I had never given up on my dream. A wise man once said that it is good to hold on to one thing but not let go of the other. Being a networker, sometimes I would attend events such as the ATB networking events and get to meet people who ply their trade in my desired firm. I would use these occasions to gain insights into my “dream” firm, the market trends and general life within my dream organization. It is very important to feed your dream even before you start living it out.

Then out of nowhere, I receive a call from my dream organization. They are calling to apologize for the long pending status of my application and to find out whether I am still interested in the role. My ears almost cave in. “WHAT!!! RU KIDDING ME, OH HECK YES” I say to myself as my mind races with excitement. However, I respond to the company by saying; “Thank you very much for getting back to me. Yes, I am still very much interested in the position” I say with the temporary composure and formality of a lottery winner waiting to explode.

The final stages of interview resume (over a year later….literally). Whoever said patience pays, tell them I concur.
The most surprising and interesting thing about the next stage is that my endeavors since graduating become the highlight and my key selling point across the interview table. My job description and knowledge gained in my current job turns out to be a huge pillar and I thank God I took on the role and yet still didn’t give up on my dream. That’s when I realized that some opportunities take longer than expected so that we can pass through a refining process that prepares us for our date with destiny.

Another key area of interest by the interviewers is about my co-curricular engagements throughout school. It is then that advice from Miriam Mukasa (MD, AfricaTalentbankcom), as well as advice from my mentors, about the importance of acquiring more than just a degree, come alive. I am able to see how employers are not only interested in knowing what you learnt in class but, in addition, they want to learn more about one’s psychosomatic skills acquired while undertaking different leadership, club, social activities and responsibilities.

Fast track to current day, I emerge victorious and I get selected as one of the successful candidates and as I stare at the sun rise and its rays pierce through my window panes, I feel grateful to God for the wonderful roller-coaster like journey thus far. I can’t help but liken my future with the rays of the rising sun as I am expectant and optimistic. I however know that even though my talents might land me the opportunity, it is my character and attitude that will chart my path upwards and forwards in life and in career.”

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