Becoming a Professional
When our Kisa Scholars complete AfricAid’s two-year leadership program and graduate from high school, we like to keep connected with them, and also to continue building relationships between them. Strengthening our Kisa Alumnae Network (KAN) is an important part of our work. We follow each other’s activities in social media groups and organize social and networking engagements throughout the year. One activity on AfricAid event’s calendar that builds professional connections between our graduates is the Job Readiness Workshop.
The most recent Job Readiness Workshop was held in Arusha from December 12-16, 2018 and coincided with the end of the university year. This four-day workshop was open to former Kisa Scholars who have recently graduated from university and who are hitting the job market, along with many other newly graduated students around the country. We hosted 23 alumnae from Arusha, Kilimanjaro, and Dar es Salaam and a few individual young women came from smaller urban centers.
It was a packed and engaging program, with plenty of time to socialize, catch up on news, and swap stories. Catherine, a Kisa Alumna from 2014 shared, “I had a small reunion with my fellow classmates from Cornerstone Leadership Academy and it was super awesome to hear all the stories and catch up.”
A number of different professional facilitators shared their experiences and knowledge about a range of topics related to getting and keeping work. Sometimes when you are starting out on your first job, it is hard to know what is expected of you in the workplace. How do you get a promotion or even move from an intern position to a more important one?
- What makes a person employable?
- Practical job searching tips
- CVs, cover letters and interview techniques
- Workplace skills, such as running meetings and setting up networks
- A lengthy session on what it means to be “professional”
The Job Readiness Workshop gave us all time to think what it actually means to be successful in employment. And, our facilitators turned out to be more great role models. Alumna Catherine continued with her feedback: “Mercy Grace and Jessica (Facilitators) were really amazing and are great role models to me now. They have so much to offer the world. They present themselves very well and got me inspired to exploit my potential to the fullest.”
Looking for work can be a hard, lonely struggle. Our workshop included activities on psychological wellbeing in the face of rejection or indifference. Mentors from the Kisa Project in Moshi ran sessions on self-love, self-promotion, resilience, and building inner strength. These were actually refreshers on what the participants learned several years earlier as Kisa Scholars. We believe in reinforcing material previously learned, which is why both the Kisa and Binti programs utilize a “spiral” curriculum (i.e. repeating topics in greater depth and detail as the Scholar progresses over the years.)
The transition from school to the working world is a time of considerable uncertainty, which can be made more tolerable by being a part of a network of colleagues going through the same experience. One of the most powerful take home messages for our alumnae was the importance of building a professional mentor relationship with someone you trust. Two heads on a problem are so much better than one. None of us know all the answers when we first start working, so it is a good thing to establish nourishing and supportive professional friendships. Support from AfricAid does not stop at the end of a workshop on Job Readiness. We encourage graduates to connect with each other and to continue to see AfricAid staff as great resources. Finally, these Alumnae workshops have become an excellent platform for AfricAid’s Binti Shupavu Mentor recruitment process. It gives us a chance to evaluate the most promising candidates – and for them to extend their relationship with AfricAid.