I once applied for a job in a multinational in Lagos and the interviewer was so excited at how I’d aced the SHL tests… until she learned my age.
As you might have guessed, as a Nigerian I was a bit older than the average global graduate.
She (from Eastern Europe) pointed out that she had noticed this pattern among most Nigerians she interviewed… Clearly brilliant individuals who were just starting off their careers in their late 20s.
How do I explain this to her?
I finished high school at 16… and started university 2 years later. Because Nigeria. Universities had been on strike for 2 years #ASUUStrike
My peers that studied “less prestigious” courses like Biochemistry graduated in 4 years. I studied Engineering because it was “a good course.” I graduated 6 years later (with no carry-overs) due to a combination of strikes and the university shutting down for renovations 🤷♂️
Now on to the mandatory service year, right? Wrong.
My name was omitted from the next NYSC batch for no reason. Honestly. Someone just forgot, I guess.
And I wasn’t the only one.
So I waited 6 months after graduating to move on with my life. For non-Nigerians, graduates here are not allowed to work until they’ve completed the NYSC service year.
So I used this period to sort out necessary paperwork… like getting a physical copy of my certificate 😶
Anyhoo, I finally did the mandatory NYSC program and returned to Lagos (naturally) to begin my job search… literally 10 years after graduating high school.
So forgive me, ma’am. Forgive all of us. Nigerian graduates are not dull. The system just needs to work better.
That ☝️ is what I wish I’d told the lady. Instead I just smiled politely and proceeded to negotiate next steps. Nye m ego ahụ
All that was over a decade ago. I’m okay today. As my dad would say, you don’t race with someone else’s stopwatch. We get there when we get there.
Or we fix the country’s educational system so Nigerians can catch up with the rest of the frigging planet. #SoroSoke