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Monday, September 17, 2007

Shortcut to the Top

CLIMBING CAREER LADDER FROM THE BOTTOM LEADS TO THE TOP

Words by FRANCIS KAHIHU

fkahihu@gmail.com

He got a job in January, wanted to be the Manager in June and desired to work as a consultant in December. Welcome to the world of pursuit for immediate gratification. We live in a generation where patience no longer stands out as a virtue. We want to cruise at every aspect of life. Think of the traffic jams that we get stuck in for hours. On many occasions, we want to get there before them, even those we have found waiting for traffic to clear. We want to get onto the bus before them, hence we step on their feet as we push in. We want to get the promotion barely before we are settled in our office, hence we bribe our way up, either by cash or in kind (let the reader understand). Patience is no longer embraced. In fact, we vilify those who want to use the right route as being backward. Shortcuts are the ‘in-thing’

Society is awash with role models (remember role models are not always positive) who have not had to wait to get up there. They train many disciples in the young generation that to get to the top, you must not start low. It’s possible to climb the tree from the top, and we are quickly buying into this idea. This leads to us jostling for positions at the top even when we can hardly hold our bodies up there. The end justifies the means we claim. With this new philosophy, the term career path does not apply since there is basically no path to follow. We simply want to dash. Be here today and there tomorrow.

At a time when the pressure is high on young people to get jobs, I feel we need to call for a halt on the speed with which we want to move. We want to gratify our desires and with this, we miss out on the timeless importance of experiencing satisfaction out of growth. How would you feel if you lived the Simon Makonde story. He was born on Monday, nemd on Tuesday, went to school on Wednesday, married on Thursday, got ill on Friday, died on Saturday and buried on Sunday. Such a quick life. You will for sure miss out on the fun that comes with systematic development. Many of us cherish the childhood days when we slid on the mud, swam in the rivers and played ‘kati’. That adds meaning to life.

The above parallel has meaning to the part of career growth we miss when we opt to jump the queue. There are times when I have interacted with many a young people who wonder why employers insist on work experience on many job adverts. There is a shared feeling among those seeking for employment that they too can do it even without experience. The naked truth however is any form of a job needs a sizeable amount of experience to undertake. What we fail to ask ourselves is ‘how do we amass the much touted experience?’ In undertaking most jobs, experience plays a more pivotal role than theoretical training hence the need to seek for opportunities to gain the experience.

To this end, the wise go for internships or lowly paying jobs or even volunteer positions with the aim of learning the ropes at the workplace. There are thousands of unemployed graduates out there blaming every other person for lack of jobs except themselves. A subtle level of pride seems to have penetrated into us that we feel that with certain levels of education we can’t undertake certain tasks. We then languish waiting to catch up with the ladder from the top. We at times want to tell the big success story of how we left college and immediately got this management job, or how you got into your first job and were given an instant promotion. That sounds really heroic. With such ‘success’ stories, we have influenced a generation that abhors patience. This is a people who live in denial of the fact that real progress takes time, unless you were born with a golden spoon in your mouth.

This desire for immediate satisfaction has grown a perfect lawn for the seed of corruption to germinate. Since we want to get there faster, we oil the wheels of many supervisors. With this act, many have compromised their value systems to earn the much touted magic climb to the top. At times I feel, there ought to be a curriculum that graduates have to go through in the job market. This will inculcate patience in our national psyche and minimize the conflicts we are daily embroiled in as we seek to dash up the ladder. We usually set very high expectations for ourselves that leave us frustrated when life seems not to deliver as fast. A friend of mine once told me, ‘I hope to me a millionaire by the age of thirty’. Great ambition, but let’s learn to develop a strategic plan that supports our vision. At least the government is wise in not seeking for full industrialization by the year 2010, we eye 2030. This sounds realistic and hence urges ourselves to consider systematic growth. It pays. One advert by a local bank portraying a child growing exponentially on his way to school just exhibits the irony we live in when we seek to climb the career ladder from the top.

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