Prospective NYSC Corps Members: 10 Things You Should Do During Your Service Year

This article was actually inspired by an email I received from one of the readers of this portal.

I did my youth service in Sokoto state 2007/2008 and it was one of the best phases of my life. This portal focusing on career and mentorship issues, the advice I will reel out here are within the theme of this blog.

I present below things you should know or do to make your one year NYSC program a value-adding one:

1, Lagos is cool: If you get posted to Lagos, I think it’s cool, even great. Internet may have shrunk information gap, but the truth is, Lagos is still where it is happening. Yes, government may have outlawed posting to private sector, but being in Lagos brings you closer to information. You have opportunity to know what is happening, you get to write job tests without having to travel for hours, if not days. I was invited for Accenture test in March 2007, while still serving in Sokoto state, I ignored it because I could not travel from Sokoto to Lagos. I however came – 14 hours on the road, although returned by air  – for the Mobil test. So if you get posted to Lagos, I think it’s a leg up. Fully maximize the opportunity.

Victoria Island - corporate capital of Nigeria

2, But no where is bad: Lagos is cool, but nowhere is actually bad. In fact, other than access to more offline job information and ability to turn up for test invites without stress, other states trump Lagos in other things, like cost of living etc. So irrespective of where you are posted, it is still an opportunity.

3, Write your CV and start circulating: I wrote my first CV in 200 level, another one in final year, but the final one shortly after I graduated, before being mobilized for NYSC. But if you don’t have a CV yet, use the NYSC service year to sit down and craft one. Jarushub premium services may help you with one. Once you have your CV, start circulating, start completing online job forms.

4, Be present on the internet: Don’t be cut off information. Posting to village is not an excuse for information black-out. I became an internet buff during my service year, which is the genesis of Jarushub of today. I joined Nairaland, Nigeria’s biggest web forum, on July 25, 2007 from a cybercafe on Dan Fodio University City (Medical students) campus in Sokoto. By 2013, I had become so popular on Nairaland that when I floated Jarushub, I had steady fans and followers. I joined Nairaland in 2007 partially because of a discussion on Mobil job. With phones, laptops, tablets and personal internet subscriptions available on them, you may not need a cybercafe again, unlike me then. Subcribe to top job boards and career portals for job information.

 

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5, Enrol for professional exams: No doubt you will have plenty time in your service year, especially since the government has mandated NYSC to post prospective corps members only to government schools (and agricultural sector).Use the time to study. I started my ICAN exams during my service year in Sokoto. I had all the time in this world to read. I studied on my own, and came out tops in Nigeria at the foundation stage, copping three of the four prizes available, including overall best candidate in Nigeria. Reason: I had all the time to study because I had no worries during my NYSC year. In fact, villages are fantastic places to study. Imagine studying under the trees in front of corpers lodge and the birds singing to your ears. So whether it is an IT or engineering or finance professional examination that is relevant to you, please register before going for or during your NYSC year, and use NYSC year to actively study and pass them. They will be useful in your job search.

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6, Practice Job Tests: I met in camp people that didn’t know what job tests are. While some of us started taking tests right from university, it is not too late to use your NYSC year to start. Get relevant materials on SHL, GMAT etc and start getting yourself familiar with them. You have all the time during your service year. Pass out and hit the ground running. Of course, this is applicable only if you plan to search for job.

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7, Try out an idea: Although I never had any entrepreneurship idea when I was serving, I saw friends that made cool money from web-designing and similar activities then. If you have some skills you want to sell, or ideas you want to incubate, NYSC service year may just be the time to try it out. Web and graphic designing were not so common when I served and I saw a friend that was doing that in a relatively not-so-techy Sokoto and making bucks from clients. I also know another “corper” that  was selling clothes and making income. My highly multi-tasking friend, Ibrahim Adeigbe, was teaching in at least 2 schools and some private practices. He was making at least N20,000 monthly in addition to the Federal allawi and state allawi.  If you find yourself posted to the semi-urban areas, opportunities abound.

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8, Network: A good number of my friends today I met them during my service year. In fact, two of them are contributors to this blog today, to show you that we kept the friendship till today, more than six years after we passed out. I met Ibrahim Adeigbe in camp, Rasheed Adewusi, though an Ife graduate like me, became a friend during our service year in Sokoto.  Networking needs not be among your fellow corps members alone, integrate yourself into the local community as well. I still keep in touch with the locals till today. Corpers are respected and loved by community people. You may even be given privileged access to some community leaders, like traditional rulers or business or political leaders you ordinarily would not have had access to, just because you are a corper. Explore the privilege. You never know when network is going to be useful, don’t joke with it.

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9, Try new skills: There are new skills you can learn within weeks or months. Use the NYSC year to learn them. It may be some programming skills. Just anything that could be useful now or in the future.

10. Reflect: NYSC year is the year many people come of age, the year you lose your dependence on home for funding, etc.  It is a good period for you to sit down and think about life, what you want to achieve.

Finally, on a personal (but not career-related) note, I advise people to travel less. While I believe in qadar (predestination), I don’t think there is anything wrong in taking cautious steps. A good precaution is to avoid traveling too often. Nigerian roads are too bad and the fatalistic news I read about auto-crashes involving corps members informed this advice. If possible, you may decide not to travel home more than twice throughout your service year.

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