I’ve always been the kind of person that does many things and I think I always will be so I’ve started embracing it. I try to plan as much as I can and to maintain a to-do list across my responsibilities. I also have a great team at Workaroo that I delegate things to.
2. Do you think it is possible to achieve such balance with your studies and building your career as a student?
Yes, I know it’s possible to do. It might be difficult, but it is possible and very necessary.
3. Can you share a personal example or that of someone you know, who achieved this balance?
I like to think that I’m an example of this – While I was in school, I volunteered for different things, worked as the editor of a blog, did an internship, and ran a business.
Another really good example is Lade Tawak. She was the Best Graduating Student of the Faculty of Social Sciences in UNILAG the year before I was and she started her career while she was in school.
It wasn’t always a perfect balance but I think that a huge part of it was knowing myself, what was important to me and what I could handle – my school work was a big priority for me so sometimes I let other things slip in favour of it.
4. You had an engaging Undergraduate experience and still came out top of your department. That’s interesting! What skills do you think students need to get before graduating from school?
I’ll split this into general skills and more specific skills (depending on your career path). Aside from the technical skills needed to do your job, communication – written and verbal – might be the most important skill to pick up.
Another key skill is problem-solving and teamwork. Every student needs to learn basic computer skills like working with word processors, spreadsheet software, email etiquette, etc. Depending on your field, you’ll need to learn more specific skills.
Brilliant list. Given the pressure of grades and our developing educational system, how can you attain these skills without letting your grades suffer?
A good way is to learn by doing. You can do an internship during the holidays, volunteer for student organizations (these usually are built around the student experience so they tend to respect your schedule), get a side job that requires you to work a few hours a week.
There’s also a lot of time management involved. Come up with a personalised schedule that based on your needs – this might mean that you choose certain hours of the day to solely focus on schoolwork or that you only do “non-school work” on certain days. It depends on you.
In my case, I made it a goal to study for one or two hours daily. I had a timetable for each course and although I didn’t always follow it to the T, it gave me a semblance of structure. So, I knew that for those hours that I dedicated, I couldn’t work on anything else.
5. You’re a really detailed person. What type of jobs did you take as a student to build your experience?
As I mentioned earlier, I worked as an editor for a blog, I interned at a company twice (during an ASUU strike and during the holidays), I also did a lot of volunteer work for different organizations. Lastly, I ran a business, an online bookstore called Streem.
Running the business probably gave me the most “work experience” because I had to learn a lot on the job – communications, social media management, negotiation, bookkeeping, dealing with data, creating proposals and most of all, problem-solving.
6. Interesting! What are your tips for pitching at companies as a student?
I would say it’s similar to pitching in general. Figure out the specific value that you’re able to offer and the best channel to pass your message across. I’ve found that a lot of people are open to helping students, so use that to your advantage.
Find people in the organization & try to engage with them online. Ensure that you present yourself as valuable. Send them a clear and concise message about what you have to offer and close out with a specific ask. Don’t be afraid to shoot your shot. At worst, you’ll get a “no”.
Tip: Volunteering works wonders for this. Find a way to volunteer for things that put you in close proximity to organizations and leaders. It’s a sure way to build valuable professional relationships.
Another good channel for this is student ambassadorship. A lot of organizations have short-term & long-term student-ambassador programs that can help to put your foot in the door.
7. Thanks for your time, Teju. What final word do you have for us?
Thanks again for having me. I would say that there are a lot of personal development opportunities as a student. It’s entirely up to you to look beyond your grades and to start to take advantage of them.