Little/No Academic Qualification? How to Still get a job in Malawi

I subscribe to a number of Malawian job forums and groups on Facebook. The job market is tight and tight indeed and those who get to land a posting are not only qualified, but in word-blessed. I have come to observe a worrying trend that some of the individuals seeking employment opportunities are, under qualified when you go through their academic background. On top of that, many don’t really seem to understand what they are looking forward to doing- given the opportunity. This has seen an increase in people posting such messages as seen in the following extract:
I am a man aged 21, single in need of any available job. I am a holder of the MSCE paper. Call on 08*********”
I mean where do I begin even if I had a job to offer?
Now don’t be mistaken- I am not despising those with lesser experience and academic qualifications, but the job market has standards and they have to be maintained if you are going to survive the unforgiving environment of high competition. Now how best do you make a posting that should attract employers even if you have lesser experience and lower or zero academic credentials?
1. Discover your talent and enhance it
See, if I am looking for a garden boy I definitely would want the best. Same with a mechanic, a shop keeper, a cleaner and just about any employee for that matter. We all agree that school isn’t for everyone and in Malawi there is more than just one reason people fail to go through with their education. However, everyone is born with a hidden talent and interests. Take time to find out what you are good at and work very hard to cement those skills and talents. If you are not sure, ask for guidance from more experienced individuals and family members who understand you more. After finding your talent, clearly mention the talent with special emphasis in your postings and job applications.
2. Be Honest
Honesty is the best policy! We live in a world of inter-connectivity and the social network has allowed us to even be at places we have never really set our foot on. My observation of profiles of people who made posts looking for “any” jobs more often than not show that the individuals have academic credentials from top notch universities including Oxford, Harvard, and Cambridge among others. Dreams? We all dream, but one of the reasons we dream in our sleep is that some of this stuff just can’t be real. Let’s be honest, we can count Malawians who have attended such institutions and surely they are not posting their job searches in these forums-even when are actually looking for jobs. Let’s learn to accept the reality, there is no need to boast over such things as academic credentials which can be proven or busted at the click of a button. Tell the world who you are and that will be the first thing for your prospective employer to take into consideration. There are lots of opportunities out there looking for skills and talent you may possess, but you might as well be left out for touting to be what you are not. Additionally do not tell skills you are don’t posses just for the sake of impressing-skills are not hard to prove!
3. How well do you express yourself?
Do not get carried away with what has become acceptable in the social networks and start to think that it’s universally acceptable. What am talking about are things like the way we communicate for example using short hand and internet slang.
Looking for a job is such an important thing and whether or not you are hires doesn’t only on your papers but also your proven ability to communicate which begins in your job application. You can say one powerful statement that can change everything for you and using shorthand simply doesn’t qualify! Use formal language as much as possible. Slang and/or shorthand can be very difficult to comprehend for some old-schools and can just be outright annoying for someone looking for serious people to employ. You can deploy your shorthand and slang expertise elsewhere on the network, but avoid it as much as possible when engaging in formal matters especially with people you are unfamiliar with. Phone numbers / WhatsApp may be the quickest way to communicate, but you should also consider getting yourself a decent email address-it gives a touch of formality when giving out contact information.
***Tip 1: Check your spellings, check your finished statements and consult before posting. I am not saying this will guarantee you a job, but it will definitely maximize your chances.
***Tip 2: Avoid using terms such as “plz/please” -They will not help you get any attention from the employer. Such words make you sound desperate- and no one really wants to hire desperate individuals, people want to hire folks who are PASSIONATE about their job.

NO SCHOOL FEES? How to get support without ‘begging’

It’s common knowledge that financial hurdles Malawi is facing have prevented many from acquiring the much need education including the basic elementary. Poverty has seen the best of students forced out of schools for failure to pay for tuition and other provisions including books, food and groceries. Some students have come out asking for help, but obviously the problem remains significant especially with recent increase in tuition fees at various institutions.
Usually people just explain their plight and ask for help and well-wishers make donations and pledges. However, there are other ways to raise funds while giving a little something back-essentially an incentive for more people to help and drawing a line between begging and fund raising.
1. Selling Art
If you are good at say painting, wood carving or you have any talent in art; create your original art and state why you are selling it and ask for any well-wishers to donate. If you are a performing artist, you too can raise funds by organizing fund-raising shows. You can do this as an individual or a group that share the same goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you really need to be patient as things may get slow at times. Make use of the social network to promote your sales and appeal to the public.
2. Domestic work
There are many approaches to this solution. First is to find one individual who is willing to pay an agreed sum in return for your working for them for a specific duration. Second option is to work in multiple residences around your school or your home. For security, you can make simple written contracts/agreements with your employers-just in case. Letters from your school and/or parents can be used as supporting evidence to secure your employment. Key to this option is to build trust.
3. Show your Abilities
Some people would be willing to invest in your education after seeing your potential. Present your transcripts, letters of recommendation, previous school projects you have worked on, artistic creations or any other material that would be considered a display of your abilities. Tell the public what you ultimately intend to achieve and why they should help you. You’ll be surprised by the response.
Summary
What people really want is to invest in young individuals with potential, so before you set out asking for donations make sure you fully understand what it is that you want to achieve. Equally important is your commitment to performing. Those that will donate surely will want to see results and anything but bad. You will have to live your promise and prove that you are working your level best toward your promises and goals.
So why give anything away when you have bigger problems?
Well, it shows that you are committed to the cause you are raising funds for. A little sacrifice is necessary although sometimes it might not actually be little in literal sense- so heads up.
There are many other options to fundraising and leave a comment if you’d like to share.

Higher Education Scholarships

Links to scholarships around the world

There are lots of organizations offering scholarships to qualified individuals who wish to pursue higher education in different states across the globe. There are lots of scams too, but here is a website I would like to recommend to those who wish to try their luck in earning sponsorship for their education- scholars4dev. The website markets itself as:
“scholars4dev, short for Scholarships for Development, is an updated listing of international scholarships specifically for people from developing countries, people who would like to pursue development-related fields, and people who seek global and national development through further education”
Follow the links to the website to visit sections according to level of study.
Other sections are also available on their homepage.
* Remember to follow application instructions properly as directed by the institutions offering the scholarship. It is good where possible to establish direct contact (email/phone) before you commence your application. What I like about this website is that they have the most recent information regarding the scholarships they list which includes application deadlines, eligibility, and many other details.
Kindly note that my blog is not affiliated to that website and I am not responsible for their content.

AUDIO BOOKS-LISTEN TO READ

Listening to books on the go. Save time while learning more.

Our schedules keep getting packed by the day – work, school, business, workout sessions and all. Traditional reading using physical books is becoming more and more difficult to fit in the twenty four hours we have each day.

Reading and indeed education never has to stop because you are too busy to sit down and focus on the physical book.

With the technology we have today, many books have been turned into flawless audio that we can listen to, enjoy and learn while still doing other things. Be it on the bus, walking, doing laundry or just lying in your bed with your eyes closed- you still can read.

There are a lot of services selling and/or providing free audio books in various formats and some are as following:

Thought Audio: http://www.thoughtaudio.com
This website has tons of classic literature and philosophy titles. Apart from the audio files, it has e-book versions of the titles if you would like to  “read along” or just a visual reference. Their collection includes works by Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, Leo Tolstoy, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many others.

Loyal Books: http://www.loyalbooks.com
Although it looks a little more complicated than Thought Audio, Loyal Books claims to stock over 7,000 audio books and e-books you can access for free.

****Other recommended sources (some may not be entirely free) of audio books include audiobooks.com, audiobooks.org, iTunes, BBC Store (www.store.bbc.com), Amazon’s audible.com and Open Culture (www.openculture.com).

The audio format means a lot of flexibility. You can listen to the books from your computer or on your mobile devices be it a tablet, mobile phone, ipod or mp3 player.