KAMPALA — Have you ever had passion, or a yearning to get somewhere but you did not have an opportunity? Have you ever thought that serving someone else could give you a life you dream of? I have learnt that by serving others, I am serving myself.
Let us talk about Volunteering because that is how I have been able to do it. Volunteering has transformed me from just a university graduate into a writer, graphics designer, graphics trainer, social media expert and now a Lecturer at MUBS, the leading Business School in the region.
In 2019, I graduated with a First Class Degree in Leisure and Hospitality Management from Makerere University taught at Makerere University Business School, Nakawa. It was exciting to have completed my degree but at the same time it was the time to prove to the employers that I am employable. Employers as we all know are interested in what the employee can offer to the company.
Unfortunately, just a month after graduating from the Hill of Makerere University, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic and in compliance to the measures by the World Health Organisation, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni declared the country under a lockdown. What did this mean? Most of the new graduates were as well locked down.
At every Convocation at Makerere, more than 10,000 students are conferred with Bachelor’s Degrees, Certificates, Diplomas, Master’s and PhDs. All these graduates hope to tap into the existing employment space whose competition is stiff and cannot take on everyone. If that is the case, should fresh graduates sit back and lament? No! An option is to tap into these companies through the Volunteering window. However, it is sad to note that many fresh graduates despise and hate volunteering because there is no monetary value attached to this opportunity, forgetting the long term benefits it has.
COVID-19 ravaged the employment space locking many people out because of the effects it brought. Some companies were operating at low capacity and laying off staff, some companies opted out of businesses and closed off leaving no opportunity to be employed.
Being determined not to be affected by the COVID-19 effects, I decided to seek for volunteering opportunities to at- least gain employable skills. I applied to many companies, MUBS inclusive because it was my University. I was lucky to have been taken on under the MUBS Publications Unit.
The choice and decision I made is one that I do not regret at any one moment because I was attached to the best mentor Ms. Erinah Najjingo who motivated me to become the person I am today. She is a person I admire and aspire to be like in the world of writers and publishers.
Volunteering has not only been a window of opportunity but it also enabled me to tap into my passion of writing and teaching at MUBS “The Place To Be”. It has provided a platform for me to build my career, self-esteem, attain employable skills and has also prepared me to take on any opportunity that crosses my path.
MUBS as an institution is well endowed with opportunities and knowledge being the benchmark of Business Research and Management Education and above all the creame de la creame in the region.
As a volunteer, my mentor encouraged me to participate in all staff trainings, career guidance activities, zoom engagements, outreaches and to manage the office in her absence which enabled me to attain free skills such as organisational skills, leadership, minute writing, planning, emotional intelligence, conflict management and the list is endless. These skills cannot be attained outside employment.
Special thanks to the Principal of MUBS Prof. Waswa Balunywa, the School Management and Council who accepted and offered me this opportunity to volunteer; I am indebted to the Institution. Appreciations as well go to Dr.Timothy Esemu, the Dean Faculty of Marketing and Hospitality Management and Dr. Milburga Atcero, the Head of Department Leisure and Hospitality Management for accepting me to be part of the team and utilize the faculty as my training ground in the area of academics.
Apparently, as soon as you graduate from the University, your loved ones pray and expect that you get a “good job” with a big salary. Some lucky people get these jobs on spot however some do not.
Graduating is one thing and being ready for the world of employment is another. Volunteering is one way to make you ready and yet many youth despise and undermine this golden opportunity.
Volunteering is one of the best activities that prepares you for the world of employment. It is also a great way to maintain the work, life balance and also learn some life skills while contributing significantly to your community. While I was growing up, I used to hear people say that education is the key to success, this seems no more. The youths out there should know that education does not guarantee employment anymore. Volunteering however empowers you with skills as many open doors for you for a full time job.
Out of my experience, volunteering addresses issues of employability, builds your social capital and connects you to the right people, fosters value and promotes creativity. With volunteering, transformative experiences are fostered, skills such as leadership, problem-solving, organization and planning, communication, interpersonal, relationship building, mentoring, teamwork, and time management among others are acquired at a free cost. Once you decide to volunteer, you will not remain the same; there is a lot of self-realisation and self-actualization in this space.
It is unfortunate that many young people have failed to reach their goals because they have not embraced the window of “volunteering”. As youth, we also have another challenge of not knowing who we are, what we want, where and how we can make a difference in life. Let my experience be an eye-opener to the young generation and to the fresh graduates out there moving on streets looking for jobs. Take on volunteering and acquire the skill sets to be a perfect start off for your future. Young people start your lives with a purpose, Life is a one-time project, go out and volunteer whenever there is an opportunity to, you will never be disappointed if you know what you want and how to get it.
The Writer is a Teaching Assistant at MUBS in the Department of Leisure and Hospitality Management, a member of Team Output, Young Professional Managers Association (YPMA) and Campfire Ideological Group