How did you get your first job?
I got my first job in a very interesting way. I had just rounded up my national youth service and, I got a call from a colleague I had interned with, about a job opportunity. I took it, and had only worked for about 4 months before I got another call, from a recruitment agency, inviting me to come in for an interview in a pharmaceutical company, for my present job. The interview went very well and I was offered the position.
Did you meet resistance in the new workplace?
Oh yes I did. Quite a lot of resistance actually.
Do you think it was because you were a young woman?
I was considered quite young and fairly green and thus, I did not come with much experience. This meant that I had to learn a lot on the job, gradually gain the respect of my colleagues, and earn my seat at the table.
I don’t think the resistance I met was as a result of the fact that I was a woman, although this may have also played some role. The ratio of male to female colleagues in the workplace is still disproportionate, this is why it has become necessary for young women to build themselves for success in the workplace.
How did you handle the resistance?
Well, truthfully, I was not prepared for the kind of resistance I encountered. I was brilliant and quick to learn, and ready to perform at my job, but, that was not all that was required. I had to go back to the drawing board, step back from myself and began to study both my work environment and my colleagues.
I began to understand what made my colleagues tick, what their interests were and how best to work with them. It required a lot of focus on the task to be accomplished and less on the personalities of those involved.
I read a lot, and took counsel from older colleagues. I prayed a lot for wisdom too. Basically, for me it was building emotional intelligence, improving my leadership skills and capacity to handle stress and still produce excellent results.
What would you advise female job seekers?
My advice to young female job seekers is to build capacity. Opportunities always come, both to the prepared and the unprepared, but, only the prepared can make the most of the opportunity presented to them, to climb to the next level.
Go the extra mile. Seek to be the best in your area of interest. Keep learning, constantly seek to develop your skills set and your knowledge, so that when opportunities come, you will invariably make the most of it, because now you are prepared.
Also, do not limit yourself, search for opportunities actively, apply for the jobs you want, put yourself out there. It is also great to volunteer. You get to build your skill sets and build experience.
It is also important to make the most of your online presence. These are not the times to make posts on social media that you would regret later. Build your LinkedIn profile, take online courses, some of them are free, and network!
Let people know what you have interest in, you may never know who would be linking you to your next opportunity. Be resilient and persistent, be dogmatic and hold the faith.
How can young women distinguish themselves after securing a job?
First of all, note that you may not get your ‘dream job’ in the first few years of your career. You make your current job your dream job, because, it is only when you can do your best at your present level that, you can either get promoted or be built up enough to establish your own business.
Work hard, work smart, and give your best. Work well with your team, understand your workplace dynamics and organisational structure to see how you can progress in the organisation. Always continue to develop your skills, experience and your knowledge and lastly, trust your process.
What can more young women do to position themselves rightly for future opportunities?
To position yourself rightly for opportunities, be thankful for all you have achieved. But, constantly appraise yourself and seek to always become better. Do your work well, and don’t stop learning. Realise that every achievement you have conquered is a step on a ladder. There is more, so never restrict yourself.
Any final words?
Trust your process. Every experience has a lesson in it, learn it so you don’t have to repeat the lesson again. Learn from others, both their successes and mistakes, remain teachable and know that with God, success is inevitable.