Part One: Schooling Plus Personal Education is the Way Forward

A lot of project management students graduate with excellent results. They excel well in the schooling aspects but then perform poorly in the personal education aspects. Most of them graduate with sound knowledge and good grades but they have…:

No clear career plans: One of the things I easily discovered while in the university was that a lot of my fellow course mates had no clear mental image of the type of project manager they want to be or the types of project management careers they want to pursue. I was in that situation too at some point in time. We had little issues with tests or examinations because most us were academically intelligent students but then, most of us who were interested in pursuing a professional career in the world of project management had no career plans and no career guidance. We kept asking ourselves this question, “When we graduate and present our BTech certificate in project management technology, who would employ us as a project manager without experience?” This is because most of the job adverts we would see for a project manager’s role require more than 5 years of practical experience. So our conclusions were like, let’s just do this schooling thing and get out of here. Now, imagine the number of project management students at various universities and colleges across Africa that would be passing through that same career mess. And most of the questions and complaints I have been receiving from a lot of project management students and recent graduates are centred on their project management “careers”.

No mentors: I had my first mentor in project management during my final year in the university and that was in 2013 — Mr Ike Nwankwo. I learned a lot from him before graduating. I’ve more mentors now in project management and in other niche I find interesting. However, most of our project management students are yet to understand the importance of having a mentor who would help shape their career and most do not know how to go about it.

No network: I aggressively started building my network in 2013 when I launched JerryIhejirika.com. I knew that building a strong network could help me in getting a good job when I graduate. The project management students in Africa need to be enlightened on this and also need to know how to start building their network as students.

No membership association: I joined my first membership association in 2013 — The Global Project Professional Society — after attending one of their seminars in Lagos. They are affiliated with the British Project Professional Society. I’m no longer an active member of the association but the things I learned from them help shaped my career.

No job search strategy: A lot of project management students still don’t know how to leverage the Internet and create a good job search strategy and some don’t even believe they are capable of attracting good job offers before or immediately after graduating even without submitting their CVs to any of those companies. Virtual networking plus the Internet has made it possible.

Before or after graduating, most don’t even know how to choose the right certifications that would blend well with their career plans.

They are not well enlightened on the importance of building or developing an entrepreneurial mindset (Even though we have been told that more or new project management jobs would be created by 2020, we all do know it would never be enough because the number of persons who would be searching for jobs in the world of project management by 2020 would be much more than the number of jobs that would be available by then. And we all know how bad the job market is in Africa. So, we need to help raise some young project managers with entrepreneurial mindset or job creating skills in Africa.).

My mission here is to enlighten our project management students on why they should think beyond their schooling and understand the importance of their personal education. They need to understand that having a first-class certificate and a third-class mind could be bad for their careers. That is, they need to understand the importance of developing not just their brains but also their minds. The picture of the type of project manager or career person they want to be in the next 5 years will be painted in their minds and not in their brains, and those pictures need to be clear to help them focus.

Schooling has critical roles to play in our careers likewise personal education. The schooling system was designed to mostly develop your brain which is very good in itself but then, a balance needs to be created and that is through developing your mind. And developing the mind can mostly be achieved through personal education.

Watch out for part two!

P.S. If you would like to support my education and career development project on talking to the project management students across Africa on the importance of their personal education and how they can go about it, you can send an email to jerry[AT]justpingus.com.ng.


Originally published at jerryihejirika.com.