Does starting your career early give you an edge? I say, YES. Come with me.
I met a young lady some five years ago. She worked on the Island in Lagos. Young, daring, all shades of pretty.
Ngozi (not her real name) was/is a rare gem. Her backside is a sculptor’s delight. When she walks into a room, she lights it up. She displays deep insight and precise analysis of issues. When she smiles, her ribcage opens for you to catch a glimpse her funky heart. Over time, we drew close; she was like a big sister.
She graduated from one of the first generation public universities in Nigeria.
At the time I met her, she was 31 years old and already had 10 years of industry-relevant work experience.
Yes, you read that right! She already had 10 years of work experience.
I asked the same question. One of those days, I had to ask her myself.
She graduated at 20, completed NYSC at 21, started work at 21.
And she was already at manager cadre too. At 31!
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I know our lives’ journeys are different, but if you can, start your career early.
Some are 31 and don’t have two years’ work experience.
You see some job adverts asking for seven years’ experience and no more than age 30! Lol.
Where should applicants get that kind of years of experience from, you ask? “If you ask me, na who I go ask?”
But interestingly, there would be many who would easily fall within the specified age.
Some days ago, I saw an entry-level job advert of GTB. (By the way, GTB is currently recruiting, you may like to apply). They want no more than 26-year olds. Some banks are worse. Sometimes, some recruiters would even state it in the advert from the beginning; if you are one day older than the specified age, you stand disqualified. Bad guys.
If you are a law or medical student (in Nigeria), seniority in those professions is by year of graduation/induction/call to bar or whatever other name it is called! If your school goes on strike (as is oft the case with many public universities), say for just two months, by the time you graduate, you would have lost good grounds to your “juniors” (in private and other universities).
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I met another young lady recently. She isn’t 24 yet, and already, she has bagged a Master’s and currently works with one of the top companies in Nigeria. She attended private universities and graduated exactly on time.
If you are just starting your career, age can be one of your biggest advantages.
I have friends and colleagues, who before they clocked 27, had worked with two to three top companies. Sometimes, what determines who gets the job between two or more equally qualified and talented candidates is age!
Age is a differential!
If you attend LAUTECH, for example, you have been denied over one full year of your life. Many won’t understand what that means until they finally graduate. If you were 25 before that last strike (that lasted over12 months), by the time you would finally be graduating (at 26, 27 or even above), there would be jobs you would automatically be disqualified from applying for, on age grounds!
By age 30, you can no longer apply for entry jobs with the Big Four and many other good companies! By age 30, most of the conventional top entry jobs would technically be beyond your reach! You would say there are no jobs. There are jobs, and you keep seeing those adverts every day, but your age has knocked you out even before you applied.
Even if you are called to be an entrepreneur, it still makes a lot of sense to set out early.
Am I saying you won’t succeed if you graduate at above 30? No, not at all.
I am saying if you can, start your career early enough!
Like Fasugbe Halimah rightly noted in response to this article, “Starting (your career) early is so great. You might not start big but ensure that you are doing something at a time. No experience is a waste.”
And if you weren’t (or won’t be) that lucky to start early, my charge to you is that you make sure your children do!
~ Idowu Kunlere
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