Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate-Concluding Bit

Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate.(photo credit: www.alternet.org)

Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate.(photo credit: http://www.alternet.org)

 

You walk home confidently, full of smiles. You instantly change your Facebook status to; “I cannot stop thanking you God, Teller Number 1”. You call Richard, your pessimistic friend, to narrate your interview experience to him, and for once, Richard listened to you. You are beside yourself with joy.

As you pass by that annoying fried potatoes seller, who always gives you the soft ones whenever you come to buy from her, you give her a smile and a wave. She looks at you surprised, because she does not remember the last time you greeted her, but she responds with wave.

In your mind, you see yourself dressed up in your white long sleeves and a pair of black  trousers, neatly ironed, properly tucked in, with your name tag on your chest, KOFI OWUSU. You are so excited.

You walk to your mum’s shop. You excitedly give her a big hug. With that, your mum concludes you have the job already. She picks up a bottle of non-alcoholic wine and pops it. She squeals, “Kofi has gotten the job oo…Kofi has the job ooo…”She starts dancing and cleaning your face with her wrapper, although no music is playing. Now, she was attracting the neighbours with what she was doing. You have to calm her down. But your mum’s excitement was infectious, so you decide to allow her have fun, while you pray the crowd that has gathered in front of her shop does not increase. She dances for about 15 minutes, wipes her face and takes her seat. The small crowd that gathered was dispersing. You decide to break the news to her.

“Maame, I have not gotten the job yet. The interview session only went well, at least from my point of view.” You watch as the smile on her face fades and replaced by a look of confusion “I am only praying I get called for the job.” You add, convincing yourself more with that statement.

Your mum reassures you. “So far as you said it went well, I know you will get the job.” You are persuaded by your mum’s words. You finish the glass of non-alcoholic wine that your mum poured and walked into your room. You throw away the file that contained all the documents that you took to the interview. You undress and lie down as you reminisce about how the day had gone. You sleep like a baby with a smile on your face.

The next day, you keep your phone by your side, expecting a very important call. You carry the phone everywhere, even to the bathroom when you are bathing. You do not want to miss that important call. You go through the day and no call comes through from the micro-finance.

You start the second day with the same level of expectation, but the call does not come through. You go through one full week without a call from the micro-finance. You start getting anxious. What if they have selected another candidate for the position? You call the micro-finance to find out what your prospects were. A lady answers the call, but refuses to give you a definite answer. You hang up more disappointed than before.

The second week comes to an end, and you have not heard any news from the micro-finance. Your depression level hits a level higher. You start planning what you will do when you are not called for the job. The thought alone makes you sad.

You go through the third, fourth and fifth weeks, without any news from the micro-finance. You are miserable and your mum, she is disheartened. Both of you have been waiting for that call for over a month now. You are now certain the job has been given to another candidate. The thought of going through another job searching process frustrates you. But you have no choice. It looks like the micro-finance has rejected you.

Frustration

Sign of Frustration(photo credit_www.zazzle.com)

Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate – 4th bit

Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate.(photo credit: www.alternet.org)

Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate.(photo credit: http://www.alternet.org)

Story so far- you have completed the University, you have written over 300 application letters and you have finally gotten your first interview. Read on-

You are seated in the interview room. You stare at the panel and they stare back at you. The only lady on the panel broke the ice and smiled at you. You smile back and you feel your muscles relax. You are asked to introduce yourself,

“My name is Kofi Owusu, A graduate of the University, with a Bachelors Degree in History.”

You finish your sentence, as you keep staring at the panel. The bulky man with the dark complexion raises his eyebrows and stares at you, he asks,

“Is that all? Is that all you want us to know about you?”

You are confused. What else do they want to know about you? You wish you could ask. You scratch your head, wondering what else you can add to the description, which will be relevant to the interview. You were not expecting such an easy question. Though it seems easy, you do not have the answer to it. You stare back at the panel, shifting uncomfortably in your seat. The lady again seems to sense your agitation and asks,

“Well, let’s move on. Kofi,  it says on your CV, your hobbies are reading and dancing. What was the last book you read?”

“Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” You murmur without thinking. Now, you are in trouble.

Apart from the pamphlet which you picked this morning to read, you know you have not read any novel in like 10 years. You liked reading at a point in your life. Yes, Goosebumps, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton’s books. But not now. You never got time to read novels in Senior High and the University. You mentioned this particular book because that was what you saw Yaa reading the other day. Yaa is one of your few female friends. The truth is that, you do not even know what kind of book it is; whether it is a novel or an anthology or what. You do not even know who Maya Angelou is.

“You read Angelou’s books? Wow! I also like her very much.” A fair man on the panel says, “Have you read her book, Gather Together in My Name?” He asked.

“No, I haven’t read it.” You answer with your eyes lowered to the floor.

“Alright, so Kofi, I haven’t read, I know why the Caged Bird Sings. Can you tell me what the story is about?” The lady asked again.

If you had your way, you would have gotten up and walked out of the interview session. You only saw that

book when Yaa was reading it. You asked her what it was about and she mumbled a few words. You do not remember what she said exactly. The only thing you remember her saying was that, it was one of her favorite books. So do you tell the panel, Maya Angelou is Yaa’s favorite author and not yours? You know you have to think fast and provide an answer.

“I read the book a few weeks ago.” You heard yourself saying. Currently, you know you are blowing your chances away. First, you could not describe yourself satisfactorily and now, this. This is gradually turning into a nightmare. “Maya Angelou is an American author and poet.” You managed to add. The lady clasped her hands and kept smiling. That encouraged you. It encouraged you to stop talking because you do not know whether what you are saying is true or not. Or it seems Yaa mentioned that to you .

“What is the most current happening in the country, on the continent and in the world?” The darkest man with the receding hair, who has been quiet throughout the interview asked. Now you can breathe. This is exactly what you read in the morning. You begin to recite with confidence, everything you read earlier this morning. The man asks for your opinion on what was happening in Russia. You keep providing the answers because you had presumed that question. Now, you can heave a sigh of relief.

There was another question on what you will bring on board when you are employed. Yes, that is another pre-meditated question. You smile and pour your heart out.

“I am very resourceful. I will………….” This portion of the interview seemed to have gone well. You enjoyed this session, providing the answers like that.  And from the nods and the smiles you are getting from them, you have been successful. This is encouraging. You can sleep this evening.

“Alright, Kofi Owusu. Thank you so much. It’s been nice interviewing you. In fact, we have learnt a lot from you. You will hear from us.” The bald man on the panel said, “You will definitely hear from us.” He added.

to be continued

Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate-3rd Bit

Frustrations of an unemployed graduate.(photo credit: www.alternet.org)

Frustrations of an unemployed graduate.(photo credit: http://www.alternet.org)

Story so far – After staying at home for a while and writing over two hundred application letters, you get your first job interview schedule. You start preparations to meet the panel. And on the day of the interview……..

Finally the D-Day comes, though you tried very hard to sleep the previous night, you kept turning till it was morning. You jump out of bed when it is 3 am. The interview is at 11am, meaning you have about 8 more hours, but it is getting more difficult sleeping, as the clock ticked.

You jump out of bed, pick one of your pamphlets from your history courses and you start reading. Who knows? You may be asked questions about some of the things you learnt while you were in school. You read for a while, pause and then pick up the laptop. It just occurred to you. You do not even know what is happening in the country, or on the continent or in the world. You have never bothered yourself with these issues. But who knows? You may be asked some questions on current affairs. So you start visiting news websites, you read for an hour till you are certain you know what is happening in the world.

It’s 6 am already. You stop pre-empting the questions that the interviewers may ask,simply because you are tired at this point. You tell yourself that, if they ask you questions which you do not have answers to; you will simply tell them you did not know. After all, you are getting used to your new title: unemployed graduate.

You decide to iron your clothes in preparation for the interview and the lights suddenly go off. You curse under your breath as you think of ways to straighten your clothes before 11am. You choose to give the Electricity Company about an hour,if the lights did not come back, you were going to find other ways of straightening your clothes.

You go and lie down, still presuming how the interview will go. You jump out of bed all of a sudden for you to realize you had fallen asleep. You check the time and its 10am. You scream. You have exactly one hour to straighten your clothes, take your bath and find the way to wherever this micro-finance is. Fortunately,the electricity was back. You do everything quickly and in 30 minutes you are on your way to the first real interview of your life.

You get to the micro-finance and you see about 12 people already seated. Your palms begin to sweat, firstly from seeing the number of people already seated and secondly because, you do not know the number of people they are employing. You are simply nervous. You look round to see if you recognized anybody in the group, but you realize they are all unfamiliar. You see one lady reading a dictionary, another reading the news paper and a few others sitting and staring into space. But from the look on their faces, just like yours, they all seem anxious.

The interview process starts, you check your watch to see how many minutes each person will spend in the interview room. The first name is mentioned. He enters the room, he comes out and you realize he has been there close to an hour. He looked pensive as he came out of the room. The next person enters and comes back with tears in her eyes. You wonder what happened in there, because she spent just 10 minutes. With the tears in her eyes, you question what might have happened. Another lady enters and comes out with a broad smile on her face, almost as if she had gotten the job. She spent  about 40 minutes in the room.

Soon, it is your turn. You almost jump out of your seat in fright, when your name is mentioned. You walk into the room managing a few bold steps. You are asked to sit immediately you enter. You raise your head and count 8 people on the interview panel. Your heart begins to pound. “Why?” You wonder. “Are you going to be interviewed for the chairman for the micro-finance’s governing board? Why were there so many people on the panel?”  They had stern looks on their faces too.

This is more than you anticipated. There is only one thing running in your mind at the moment.

to be continued

Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate- 2nd Bit

Frustrations of unemployed graduate.(photo credit: www.alternet.org)

Frustrations of an unemployed graduate.(photo credit: http://www.alternet.org)

Story so far –You have completed the university, done one year of national service and you are in need of a job. So far, you have applied to as many as two hundred companies and you have not even had an interview schedule yet. You find a job advertisement which you are not qualified for ,but you apply anyway.  Read on,

You send the application and for the first time, you receive an automatic response, “Thank you for your application; we are very pleased that you’d like to work with us. We would like to express our sincere appreciation for your interest in this employment. Your resume is now available for review by our recruiters. While our recruiters review your resume, no further action is required by you.” You are ecstatic. This is the first time you are receiving something like this; an automatic response acknowledging receipt of your application. You almost leap with joy. At least, you are certain they have received your application and may review it. You wish other companies emulate this. It will save unemployed graduates like yourself some energy, because you keep wondering whether their applications have been received or not. You even start to doubt the jobs’ authenticity.

You are filled with nostalgic feeling on your last day of work (national service) because, you are not certain of how life is going be when you are finally given the tag; unemployed graduate. At the same time, you are hopeful, because of the automatic response you received from that company. Imagine telling that to Richard, your pessimistic friend, he will groan almost as if he is in pain and say with a smirk, “You think they will call you? Do you know the number of applications they receive in a day?” He will add,  “You are not qualified in the first.”

You have always hated him for his curtness, but somehow he always ends up being right, especially when it comes to job issues. So, you decide not to inform him until something more positive happens, like receiving an interview schedule.

On your first day on unemployment, you use some of the money you have saved to get internet voucher. You know you cannot give up at this point. You still check the popular websites religiously, hoping you will find that dream job. Well, you haven’t specified your dream job yet, but you can always see it in your mind’s eye. Specifications of  the job: office setting- where everyone has a desk. Air conditioned, so you can always dress up formally, that is, wear a shirt, a neck tie (neatly tucked in) and add a blazer/suit to it. As for your shoes, it is an office setting, no need for constant polishing because, they will always remain shiny. Colleagues at the office – they should be cultured, well mannered. They should speak English, minimum, 75% of the time. You hate workplaces, where all they do is to communicate in a local language almost all the time. Your work schedule should not be too tight; you are looking at working from Monday – Friday, 8am-4pm. No overtime, please. You do not want to spend your entire day working.

Overall, you have sent two hundred applications in the past five months. Recently, you realize there are no job postings requiring the services of graduates with the kind of experience you have. The ones you mostly see are those seeking managers with 5-10 years of work experience. You are not qualified, you know that, but you still apply for them anyway. You are getting desperate at this point. Your options are getting slimmer as they days go by. No automatic response to receipt of applications, neither have you received any call to schedule an interview yet. You begin to think of other alternatives. Or you should venture into your own business. Entrepreneurship is what they call it. You do not have the startup capital- number 1. You do not have the office space (this is not so relevant; you can use your room). You do not have the courage to start up the business- number 3. And deep down in your heart, you know you have never thought of owning a business, this is actually your first time considering that idea and you figure out it is as a result of franticness. You don’t even have a creative idea to begin with. You simply know venturing into entrepreneurship is not in your genes. You admire young entrepreneurs, but you know you are not one of them. Is it possible not to have entrepreneurial ambitions at all?

You are having a nap one afternoon. You receive a phone call, the number does not look familiar to you, but you answer it anyway.
“Hello.” You almost whisper.
“Hi, Am I speaking to Kofi Owusu? My name is Lisa.” The voice on the other side paused,
“Have you ever applied to be a teller at the Hope Microfinance Company Limited?”
Your heart skip a beat, or rather does a flip flop. For Christ’s sake, you have applied for over two hundred jobs, how does this lady expect you to remember each one of them? But you nod, thinking she can see you.
“Y—esss, Ye-sss. I have applied.” You stammer as you reply.You wish she will cut the formalities and get straight to business.
“I am calling to schedule you for an interview, Monday, 5th October, at 11am. Is that okay with you?” “Does she expect me to say no?” You think to yourself.
You keep nodding to every detail. Finally, she hangs up.

You are super thrilled about this phone call and about the job already. You call your friend Richard to give him the news. Richard, as usual was unenthusiastic. He kept asking you if that was going to be your first interview, and whether you knew the kind of questions they will be asking you at all. He even commented that there are times when the interviewers sought answers to questions like, the land size of a country like Madagascar or the last thing Nelson Mandela said before he died. Very funny. How do they expect you to have answers to questions like that? But you make a note to check the answers to those questions.

You start prepping for the interview. You know Richard is right about one thing, although you hate to admit it. You have never attended any interview in your life. The only thing you have ever done, which is close to an interview is an appointment with your doctor, where he kept probing to find out exactly what was wrong with you. You know you cannot call that an interview, but at least it gives you an idea of what an interview is. You start getting anxious, because you do not know the kind of questions they will ask you, or who will be on the interview panel. What if you are not able to answer the questions they pose to you? Or, you make some kind of mistake and they refuse to employ you? Is your search for jobs going to end with this interview?

to be continued

Frustrations of an Unemployed Graduate

Frustrations of an unemployed graduate.(photo credit: www.alternet.org)

Frustrations of an unemployed graduate.(photo credit: http://www.alternet.org)

National Service is about ending.  You have about four months more to end it and you are anxious. You are anxious, because you know you are not going back to school to get a masters degree soon, and you also know that your services will not be needed where you are currently. To your current employees, one year of national service is exactly one year. No more, no less. As for you being maintained in that office, it’s a far-fetched dream. And the annoying thing is that, all you do at the office every week day is to buy lunch for your superiors, run photocopies and print out stuff whenever you are commanded to do so. You hate the job you are doing there, but the thought of being unemployed scares you even more. You will always choose what you are doing now at the office, over staying at home and be tagged as unemployed.

You need a job badly. You look on your Resume and the only work experience you have is what you are currently doing now for your service. So, if it was not for National Service, the only work experience you would have had on your Resume is, being the course representative for the history class, where your duties involved reminding the lecturer to come to class, collecting assignments from your mates and submitting them to the lecturer , getting a marker and a duster for the white board, and cleaning the board when the lecturer asks you to do so. And you know perfectly well that is not enough to land you the job at the bank, but you are still hopeful.

Three months more for service to end. You start looking for job opportunities on the internet. As soon as you arrive in the morning, you switch on the only PC in the office. You surf on sites like jobberman, jobs in Ghana, job web Ghana etc. The jobs you mostly apply for are the ones that seek graduates. You are particularly excited when you see titles like, massive graduate recruitment. At least for those ones, you are assured they will not pay so much attention to your work experiences. The ones you hate the most are the ones seeking sales/marketing people. You have heard from colleagues that, those are the easiest jobs to land. Those jobs involve selling of drugs from mostly India and China, hair products from America and the most annoying, selling of insurance policies. You have heard, you need extra shoes with very thick soles, a pair of sunglasses and gallons of water, because you will be walking a lot, under the scorching sun. And the salary is peanuts. As an individual, you do not even believe in these insurance stuff. You do not even have one yourself, well, maybe you have the health insurance card, which is in dire need of renewal. You simply do not believe in insurance policies, how much more trying to sell policies to somebody else. No, you will not apply for those jobs even if they were the only opportunities that existed. Of course, you have preferences.

Another thing you like doing is going through the newspapers, especially the Daily Graphic. You go through that to see if there is a job opening somewhere which you can possibly apply for. You have heard so many tales from your friend, Richard. Richard always says, ” You need to stop looking for jobs advertised in the Daily Graphic.” He continues, ” Those vacancies have already been filled before they even advertise them. They have their people already.” You desperately want to dispute what Richard is saying. But he is not the only one who has been making those assertions. You have been hearing those tales  from about four other people, but you keep assuring yourself, ” There is no harm in trying.” So you keep rushing for the newspapers and you apply, even though you do not get responses. Or at least not yet.

One day, you pause to count the number of applications you have sent out so far. And in all, you have sent about a hundred applications and you have not had an acknowledgement of receipt of any of the applications you have sent out, how much more receiving a call to schedule an interview. You start getting frustrated. You almost start believing what your friend, Richard has been saying, but you simply refuse to. Instead, you keep encouraging yourself, “It’s going to be well. I will receive a call from a company soon.”

It is the last month of national service, and you still have not received a call from any of the companies you have applied to. You close your eyes at night and they automatically open at mid-night. Your mind keeps racing even at that time.

“So what am I going to do if I do not get any of these jobs ?” You keep asking yourself. “Will I stay at home for four years like Antwi?” Antwi is your next door neighbor. He has been at home for the past four years or so. It could be more, but you have counted just four. He finished the university with a first class honours  and he hasn’t gotten a job yet. Your heart keeps racing whenever you think of Antwi, because you had a second class lower. If those with the first class honours are not getting jobs, how much more you with the second class lower? As you keep thinking of Antwi, you begin to sweat.

First of all, you are tossing and turning and now, you are sweating, though the ceiling fan is functioning. When are you going to fall asleep again? It seems this is the order for you in recent times; you sleep at 10pm and you wake up at 12 midnight, then your mind refuses to allow your eyes to close.

It is the last week of national service, you have seen a company which is seeking a graduate with a three year experience of working in an office setting. You give it a try anyway, while you know perfectly that the only office you have ever managed is your mum’s grocery store. She allows you to sit there whenever she is going to town. How does that experience qualify you for the job they are advertising? But you are still applying anyway. Who knows? That may be your breakthrough.

to be continued