The National Youth Service Scheme is a dream for the thousands of graduating students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. It was designed for many reasons including fostering national unit and cohesion, entrenching patriotism as well as providing a platform for the youth corps members to have job experience.
Recently, there have been concerns that the scheme may not be serving its purpose. However, there are a few things that each youth corper should be able to do in order to make them stand out among their peers and not be Instagram or social media savvy alone as the youth service year is beyond selfies and groupies.
I made a list of ten of the things to do during your service year.
1. Settle Down Fast
Whether you found your way to the lively cities of Lagos, Uyo, and PortHarcourt or remote communities like Becheve and Mbelekete where you have to climb hills and trees to get a good network reception, you need to settle down fast.
Some have argued that it is easier to settle in villages or city suburbs than the main cities due to the cost of living and accommodation. But, wherever you find yourself posted to after camp, ask questions about the area and settle down fast by knowing your routine from your place of primary assignment (PPA) and community.
2. Fit Into Your PPA
The Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) has been an issue of concern for many as there is intense politicking and horse trading between camp coordinators, prospective corps members, corps members, platoon leaders among others.
However, some are usually not so lucky and don’t get those juicy PPAs as they may have wished.
Some corps members do view colleagues in their PPAs as below par especially if it is a secondary school where the teachers are usually NCE holders. The dichotomy in the degrees is definitely a reality but not fitting into your PPA can be devastating and have adverse impact on your service year and life.
Respect constituted authority, be punctual and do not poke nose into issues that do not bother you.
3. Be On-line
Now, I don’t mean you should just subscribe to a data bundle and go online and post selfies. What I am saying here is that make use of your smart phones smartly and be on the right line.
There are endless opportunities and possibilities the internet offers; these include social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp among others which many youth corps members utilize less than ten percent of.
You will benefit by surfing the net for information concerning your field of study, PPA and even connect with opportunities across the globe. For example, if you are a tailor, you can check out new styles and promote your skill on social media and connect with customers across the globe.
Limiting yourself to chatting and uploading images makes your phone smart while you become dumb. So, be on-line.
How do you network? Many people have asked that question yet they have smart phones and opportunities pass by every day. Some people think networking is a thing reserved for the elites and forget that it simply refers to connecting with people who are players in the industry you find yourself in.
Networking can be done through social media, at events, workshops and even in church or the market. Once you develop a skill or carve a niche for yourself, there is bound to be need to connect with people in your field to connect with them in order to grow. After all, no man can be an island.
5. Enroll For Professional Programs/Examinations
You have almost eleven months to actually serve the nation and within this time, you can enroll for professional programs such as ICAN, NIMN, NIPR among others. By the time you conclude your service year, you may have an advantage over your peers.
6. Start Preparing Your Curriculum Vitae
Yes! You don’t have to wait till you are searching for a job to before you write your Curriculum Vitae (CV). I wrote my first CV in my 300 level.
However, if you don’t have a CV yet, it is not too late. Use your service year to learn how to prepare one and update it with little information such as professional certificates, volunteer certificates, and certificates from master classes among others.
Once you do that, start circulating it and (this may sound silly) fill job forms online and share with job center commissions.
7. Practice Job Test
While in camp, I met a few people who did not know what job tests look like. It is never too late to learn and practice for this. Ask questions, search for tips on job tests. There are hundreds of tutorials and videos offline and online. Watch them, listen to the audio and even organize yourselves into small groups to practice as a way of boosting confidence.
Get materials relevant to your field and in general education and administration; start getting yourself familiar with them and as at the time you will be doing your Passing Out Parade, you will hit the ground running.
8. Try New Ideas
It was Albert Einstein that described insanity (foolishness) as doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
During your service year, try new things; learn new skills and continuously evolve in order not to become stagnant or outdated. If you have a flair for writing, attempt writing for a tabloid or try ne writing methods and do self-criticism, these will help you grow.
9. Learn More Skills
Are you a tailor? Learn how to design dresses and market them. Are you a lifestyle photographer? Learn sports photography. Are you a baker? Learn the science of making flour.
These are but a few skills to learn. Sometimes, the skill you learn may not necessary connect with what you are passionate about. But you will never know when it comes in handy.
That is the essence of the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Department (SAED) programs.
10. Stop, Think And Plan Ahead
You cannot jump out of bed into greatness, you plan for it. So, during your service year look beyond the monthly stipends; this is short term. Ponder what life holds after and what path awaits you.
Plan for A, B and C and have D, E and F as backup for A while G, H and I as backup for B with J, K and L as backup for C. the backups should also have backup plans. Think through all acts and let your brain and not momentary emotions guide your decisions.
The service year often leads to the end of dependence on your parents or guardians for many and of course, you will come across the good, bad and ugly. But, your reaction towards these is what shapes your future.
In my conclusion, I suggest you don’t live in the moment alone. Be careful in your choices as they can make or mar you. Be enthusiastic and don’t forget that your PPA is often viewed as your first employer and a letter of reference from them can earn you a job or leave you jobless for years.
Mary Umani, a youth corps member, serving with CrossRiverWatch as her place of primary assignment.
NOTE:Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Mary Umani, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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