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Lessons I learned from my first job attachment



Lessons I learned from my first job attachment

Eliud Kipchoge does not win Olympic marathons by mistake. Wangari Maathai did not win the Nobel Peace Prize by mistake. Argentina did not win the 2022 Fifa World Cup by mistake. Leonardo da Vinci did not become the great master of art impressions by mistake. Catch my drift? Building a solid career calls for a deliberate and consistent effort toward a desired professional direction.

When I started my first attachment in my Second Year at the University of Nairobi, I was a bright-eyed undergraduate student. I was over-praised as a child, so I was confident. I was sure of my ability to write impressive articles. It never occurred to me that I needed to learn. In my mind, I was ready to wow everyone with my genius! I was the whole of 19 years old, full of idealism and illusions, excuse me.

The attachment ride was bumpy – you have probably figured that out. I worked with an editor who challenged me to think deeply, to question my assumptions about things and the beliefs I picked from popular media such as Facebook and entertainment blogs. I wrote articles that he turned down for any number of reasons from not being critical enough, to not having the rigour of good journalism.

My 19-year-old self started questioning why I needed to be so serious with life when I could be a carefree student. I questioned if I even wanted to be a journalist. I mean, why was it so difficult to write a “simple” article? I cried and quit the attachment, in my head, at least three times.

Ambitious millennial

I did not quit because the ambitious millennial in me is not a quitter. I wanted to learn how to write well. The editor knew this and today, I am glad he was tough.

That experience laid a solid foundation for my career. I understood the meticulousness that would be expected of me should I go on to become a journalist. I also understood that I would need to put in actual life effort to grow. And as I continue to learn and grow, I have picked a few things which ambitious millennials and Gen Z can embrace for career progress.

Build the discipline of keeping time, a finite resource. If you are in school and would like to build something on the side like taking up an attachment, keeping time is the difference between being overwhelmed by the assignments you have and benefiting from the extra effort you put in. Do not squander your free time on useless things.

Do something you are passionate about. Career opportunities do not always come packed in serious boxes marked “Produce of Silicon Valley. This side up”. Most times, our careers are built out of things we are excited to do, our passions. Mine was writing. What do you enjoy doing in between lectures? What course left the biggest impression on you and you’d like to find out more? In there could lie the secret of your career success.

Thirdly, work through the fear. You may not exactly feel confident to reach out to a woman you respect, like I did, and ask them to be your mentor, you may not feel self-assured from the outset to start your podcast, and you may also not feel poised enough to speak to your classmate who you envision as a good Vlogging partner. Do it anyway.

Ultimately, building that strong foundation for your career will not be easy. You will sacrifice pleasures, and submit yourself to thorough work when you’d rather just ‘Netflix and chill’ after school or work, but the sacrifice will pay dividends with interest. Nothing good comes easily.

The writer is the Impact Editor, NMG                     

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