On Saturday the 15th of July 2017, some of the RAN student interns were privileged to take part in the celebration of World Youth Skills day in an event organized by Challenges Worldwide and the Innovation Village in Ntinda, Kampala Uganda. Following the theme “Skills development to improve youth employment,” the afternoon offered many workshops on practical employability skills and career advice, alongside practical sessions to build self-confidence, good work ethics and maintaining a healthy online and offline professional image as an employee.
The early afternoon, between 12:00pm and 2:00pm EAT, was characterized by youth-led exhibitions. Other organizations such as Youth Advocacy Foundation Uganda, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), Restless Development, NTF Consult, Challenges WorldWide, Nembabazi (mentorship program), Finding XY and Pro Interns also displayed and described to participants their work offer, innovations and products.
In one of the workshops, Nicola Smith, the Program Manager at Challenges WorldWide Uganda, led the participants through Marketing yourself online and offline, while emphasizing building a personal ability to talk about oneself (skills, abilities and experiences) in the most effective, concise and clear manner to capture potential employees and funders. She noted that many employers are increasingly using social media platforms to learn more about their employees and that the youth should therefore maintain a good digital footprint (referring to clean traces of behavior online). Nicola emphasized use of Linked-In because it acts as an online CV where employers can access a professional profile about potential employees.
Other sessions which followed included; hands-on learning on communication with employers, proper job applications and good interview etiquette. Other sessions included rapid training on personal development. Participants also had an opportunity to listen to speeches from representatives of different attending organizations such as Balloon Ventures, Restless Development, International Citizenship Service (ICS), and Hangouts Uganda. It was also enriching to listen to a testimony from Brian, a blind youth who is an alumnus of the ICS program and has, with his wit, crisp and articulate speech, started an organization to empower other disabled youth.
To crown the event, we had an engaging panel discussion including young people, such as Humphrey Nabimanya (Founder and Team Leader Reach a Hand Uganda), Japheth Kawanguzi (Founder and Team Leader of the Innovation Village), Mercy Melody Kayodi (Co-Founder of Hangout Uganda) and Dr. Maggie Kigozi (Medical Doctor, Business Consultant, Educator and Former Executive Director of the Uganda Investment Authority-UIA) sharing their success stories. These stories are meant to motivate the youth to work even harder and remain focused to achieving set life goals and priorities. Humphrey drove the house to silence as he told the story of his struggle through a childhood of being orphaned by the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), but still rose into a hardworking, inspiring and responsible team leader among his peers. He advised the youth to always seize all opportunities and cut down on the desire for quick wins including money. ‘Fellow youth, for you to succeed in life, please groom a spirit of service, work, creativeness and voluntarism’ a confident and upright sitting Humphrey emphasized.
Japheth told his story of how he spent years after university looking for a job and eventually landed on an opportunity after visiting over 800 offices. In this, he advised the youth to always remain patient to persevere through life challenges because the opportunities will always present themselves, especially when you wholeheartedly and energetically keep looking out for these opportunities. ‘Remain focused to what you would like to achieve in life and you will surely get it’ he added.
Mercy in her sharing mentioned that she had been privileged to have been out of the university (2 years now) but has never been on a queue waiting for a job interview. This she said was because she built a foundation of work integrity within herself and through hard work, she has been able to lead many teams and establish Hangouts Uganda. She advised the youth on the importance of taking critical control over their emotional intelligence (how you react to situations) and that they should always be team players.
Dr. Maggie Kigozi emphasized that it is important to read the situation. She did her first job as a shorthand writer (secretary) because at the time (1970s) most people ridiculed the job and yet many companies and events needed this service. Dr. Kigozi also advised the youth to be flexible, just like being a practicing Medical Doctor did not stop her from growing her husband’s businesses after he passed away-may his soul rest in eternal peace. ‘It is this flexibility to openly embrace all the opportunities that come your way and make good use out of them which will take you to greater heights,’ Dr. Kigozi shared.
To sum the afternoon’s engagement, ‘I would say it was an afternoon filled with more learning than I had expected in such a short time. I was also amazed that many of the skills we imbibe with, daily at the RAN Innovation Lab were shared during this event too. It was also a great feeling being part of the team representing the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) at this event, many opportunities came our way because of identifying with RAN’ shared Tony Muwonge, RAN Intern 2017.
In addition, Tony said, ‘I and my team are very grateful to the RAN Innovation Lab specifically the Secretariat and Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab for availing the interns this and many other opportunities. We look forward to more learning, networking and leveraging from all opportunities as our stay at RAN goes on. The environment at RAN is indeed one that nurtures and allows for multidisciplinary learning for all’.
Thank you Tony Muwonge, Makerere University Environmental Health Student and RAN Intern 2017 for the input to this story