As the series comes to an end, I have the pleasure of interviewing Tutua Agyekum, who I have known since secondary school days. For Tutua’s interview today, she takes a different turn or should I say decided to go with her own flow which I encouraged so as to have a mix of different styles hence breaking the monotony. Her story is detailed and you don’t want to miss it.
All award-winning television shows have one thing in common; the gradual improvement from the pilot season to the current episode. For me, that is how I see my life. You grab each opportunity by the horns and direct it as it pleases you. I grew up often hearing the statement “when life gives you lemons, make a lemonade”. Why stick with the status quo when you could make a mojito, a wicked Moscow mule or a margarita served in a frosted glass, with a sliver of lemon at the rim (of the glass) and an umbrella? This is my story about the lemons life has and is still handling me after the sheltered life called The University.
Before entering the university, I had a one-track mind. It was either medical school or nothing. I was so confident of earning a spot in medical school. I felt that was my calling, my purpose, my life, my everything. My first batch of lemonade got served when I failed to enter medical school. I was distraught. To make matters worse, I knew people who I felt I had a better shot at medicine than they did earn a spot. I was disappointed and I often questioned God endlessly. What happened to all my seeds, fasting and prayers?
I was given the opportunity to offer Biochemistry and to me, that has been one of the defining moments in my life. To aptly put it, I hated the program even without knowing about it. My repugnance deepened when my lecturer told myself and a group of freshers that we had a shot at being rappers and photographers at our orientation. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for these professions, however, imagine in my shoes at that time. I almost quit school that day. In my mind, I felt my one-way ticket to success was securing a high flying white colored job. After all, that is what our society preaches, literally. A pastor will put hands on a university graduate and prophesy that he sees her occupying a big position in government which comes with a 4-bedroom bungalow, a V8 SUV, and countless allowances. Hardly would you hear a pastor prophesy about a graduate making fortunes through involvement in a trade. Hmmmmmm!!!
Gradually, I began to appreciate the program and its confusions. Some of the lecturers not only focus on imparting knowledge but also on building our capacity as young individuals. There were some courses that I felt were not relevant to my existence. Alas, these courses thought me that I had only two options. The options were either I pass or trail. Which would you choose? One of my greatest motivations to learn was that in my department, results of all students are made public. Your name, your average and your trails for all to see. Eiee!!! Fine girl paa with trails?? Never.
Life in Uni was fun. I enjoyed every bit of it. I loved the anxiety that came with writing examinations. I loved the exam fever. The late nights, the study sleepovers, the sleepless nights, the chew and pour and the occasional skipping of lectures to sleep and laze about in your room (please don’t try the last point if you are still I’m school. It could be injurious to your GPA).
Anyway, after graduating in 2016, I was thrust into the” real world” that I had been warned about. Now, the real world happens to you when you are to find a job and start fending for yourself. All of a sudden, the once beautiful parasitic relationship you once had with the Bank of Mum and Dad is severed. Girl has huge plans and I am taking steps to actualize them. I would share some but first, let me brief you on “national suffering “; the mandatory year of service to the motherland. National service is no joke. I mean, you literally have to fight to earn a spot at the company you served. If not, you’d have to fall on the benevolence of your supervisors to refer you to other companies. Again, if your parents are “big people” they could help you find a job in no time.
So, armed with anecdotes and wisdom nuggets about life and the competitive job market from possibly every older person in my life, I started service knowing that my choices could either make me jobless or be gainfully employed (self-employment inclusive) at the end of my service year. My trick was to work smart, network and build a large referral base. In all my dealings, I never forgot the God- factor. Thankfully, my efforts paid off and I gained employment right after national service.
I feel university education is beginning to lose its value. It is focusing on raising individuals who theory -biased, however, I think it fails woefully I’m preparing individuals for the working environment. That is my opinion. How many people do you know who are working even remotely in a field they studied in school? Graduates have to go through on -the- job training and other courses to help them settle in their jobs. On top of it all, most job vacancies advertised require a minimum of two years working experience. How on earth is a fresh graduate going to gather experience if not given the opportunity?
If I had the opportunity to advise my first year me, I’ll drone on and on about never underestimating the power of networking A “big man” recently told me that my network is my net wealth. It’s that simple. The job market is built on referrals and who knows you. Let your work speak for itself and always remember that we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.
Currently, I work as a Quality Assurance Manager. It fuels my passion for providing industrial support and the technical know-how industries who are struggling with local and international regulatory compliance. I am an ardent believer of self-sufficiency through multiple streams of income. That is what defines me as an independent woman. I work as an associate for a nutraceutical company. I am a budding mixologist. I grow mushrooms for sale and I am planning on going into mainstream farming. Gradually, I am ticking stuff off my checklist.
Finally, life is not what it is but how you see it. That has been my favorite quote since the start of 2018. Your life after university can be anything you choose it to be. You can connect with me on Facebook.
I am very impressed, to say the least about Tutua’s approach to life’s issues and I think we could all take a thing or two from her. Completing university is just the beginning and not the END. Stay tuned for the next feature soon.