Most young people assume that the only way to climb the ladder at the workplace is through hopping from one company to another. These four interviewees will tell you that this is not necessarily true, and no, you don’t have to work in the same company for donkey years before you get promoted.
Age: 26 years
Supervisor, Kenya Cultural Centre
As an undergraduate student at Mount Kenya University, I had a clear outline of how I wanted my career path to roll out, and so I concentrated on my studies, hopeful that I would get a job soon after graduating with a bachelor of commerce in 2014.
That job I had hoped for after graduation did not materialise though, and although I had specialised in Finance, I found myself taking up any job that came by to earn a living.
In 2015, I got a job as a tutor, teaching business units in a certain college. At some point I also worked as an insurance broker. I was working as a cleaner when I got an internship opportunity at Kenya Cultural Centre in November 2016.
The internship was to run for three months, but two weeks into it, the director called me to his office and told me that he wanted us “to work together”, since he felt my work was impressive. He then gave me a job as supervisor in charge of subordinate staff. I supervise more than 23 staff.
Some of my duties include ensuring that my team attend to their duties promptly, initiating purchase requisition of replacement of regular items such as toiletries, and maintaining proper records by checking the book of balance regularly.
One of the lessons that I learnt in all the jobs I have undertaken is to take my job seriously, however lowly it is, and give my best regardless of the pay. In those two weeks that I was interning, there was never a single day that I arrived to work late. Punctuality was, and still is one of my strengths.
Another factor that I believe caught the director’s attention is that I am willing to deliver more than is expected of me, even taking on roles that are not in my job description. Although I was based in the finance department, I would help out in the administrative department and often volunteer to perform other duties not in my job specification.
I don’t consider my degree certificate a barrier to what I can or cannot do, however, I ensure that I put extra effort in assignments related to my career path. This employment came with a package of benefits, such as bonuses and pay that I would not have enjoyed as an intern. I believe that success follows excellence, and I am glad that my efforts have been appreciated.
Age: 25 years
TV producer and Director
I was in my third year at Kenyatta University studying Bachelor of Arts (Theatre Arts and Film technology), when I got an opportunity to work for KU TV as a producer. That was in 2015. I had been recommended for the job by someone who felt that I had done a great job while working as an assistant producer for Mama Digital and Mjinga na Mshenzi shows that aired on Ebru Africa.
In the first few months of this job, I was tasked to produce early morning and late night programs as I was being assessed. At the time, the station didn’t have money to build sets and the staff had to make do with the available resources.
I would have preferred a signature set for my programs, but instead of complaining about what my team and I lacked, I went the extra mile and employed some DIY to get a semblance of the set I had in mind. Seeing my determination and willingness to make my programs stand out, I was assigned the prime time shows (business and health) after working for only three months. I was also given a chance to produce my own show.
At first, I found production of business and health programs challenging because I didn’t know how to interest people to watch them. I later figured out a way. I would shoot or attend classes during the day and then research on interesting topics to feature in the evening.
I rejoice in excellence, and I ensured that I gave my viewers the best content I was able to. Within a few months of producing the shows, I started receiving feedback from fans, and critics. Obviously, people were watching. The production was later extended from 24 minutes to 45 minutes, which gave me a better platform to exploit my potential.
When the programs were airing, I would be online on our social media platforms giving updates about the programs and taking feedback from the viewers. During the company’s annual general meeting in December 2016, I was appointed program controller in charge of producers and directors in the newsroom. According to the director, my creativity, persistent research and keen eye for detail is what the station needed. Most of my colleagues were stunned to discover that I was yet to graduate when I got the position.
I am passionate about filming and I am very dedicated to it, something that makes me stand out from the rest. I got the assistant producer role by chance. The producer had requested me to stand in for him for a day, but was so impressed with my delivery, I ended up being his assistant for the rest of the production, which lasted about two months.
The skills and experiences I got while serving in the two positions at KU TV enabled me to broaden my thinking and step out to undertake more challenging projects. I left the TV station in October last year. I am currently involved in the production of films that promote social change and creating good content for TV.
Age: 31 years
I was 25 years when I got a job as a programs assistant for Africa Youth Trust. I had just completed my internship at National Gender and Equality Commission and the job was a good opportunity to put my skills into practice.
One of the lessons that I learnt during my internship period is that it is important to start your career path with a clear vision of what you want to achieve. When I got the position, my aspiration was to hold a senior position within the organisation, and so I worked towards that.
My duties as a programs assistant involved assisting in the implementation of one of the gender programs that the organisation was undertaking. I exceeded my employer’s expectations and in just 10 months, I was promoted to the position of programs officer in charge of gender programs.
This role saw me at the forefront of a regional project whose aim was to involve more women in peace-building and security in five countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The four-year project involved working closely with officials from the East Africa Community, gender ministries in the five countries and organisations, the mandate to enhance women representation in peace and security matters.
During the implementation of the project, I led various processes and chaired meetings attended by people much older than me. Although it was my first time to spearhead a regional project, I wasn’t intimidated by the role because I felt I was ready to take the challenge.
Even though I was confident I would deliver, I sought counsel and the support of those who had held similar positions before me. After the completion of the project in February 2016, I was yet again promoted to a more senior position: Deputy Executive Director.
I was 29 years. Although I had aimed to get there, I hadn’t expected to get there in my twenties. My bosses said that they were impressed with my divergent thinking capability and that I had been an embodiment of strong will and dedication.
Whatever role I held, I ensured that I gave my best. This included researching on what would be of value to the organisation, such as fundraising for my department and engaging in national and regional processes that were beneficial to the organisation.
Besides delivering outstanding performance, I was also vocal about what I was doing. I took advantage of every opportunity I got to share new ideas with my bosses and colleagues and keep them in the know about what I was up to.
I also ensured that I balanced my skills with education. After graduating from the University of Nairobi with Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) in 2007, I enrolled in a Master’s programme in Gender and Development in 2013 and completed in 2016. Furthering my education might have played a key role in the promotion process since there were just a few of us pursuing master’s degrees. I however believe that the main reason behind my speedy promotion was my exemplary performance.
Before I joined this organisation, one of my mentors told me that if you want to hold a certain position, you need to observe the people already in those positions and find out what it took to get them there. Get to know what made them stand out and use some of their lessons to map out a successful career path.
Age: 25 years
Lead facilitator, Andela Kenya
I had just turned 23 when a friend encouraged me to send out my resume to Andela Kenya, who were in the process of recruiting simulation facilitators.
I had acquired hands on skills by working part-time while undertaking BSc Information Technology, Computer Science Engineering at Multimedia University, so I felt this was a great opportunity for me and was elated when I was called in for an interview.
I was taken through a rigorous one-month interview process and was finally accepted as a simulation facilitator in March 2016. My duties involved working with, and guiding a team of about 17 fellows (a term we give to employees on their initial stage) to produce computer models. After working in that office for eight months, in November 2016, I was promoted to the position of a lead facilitator.
With simulation, computer models were being created for the sole purpose of study, but here I was being promoted to a role that would see me lead 14 apprentices to create software that is in line with financial management, e-commerce that can be used by different companies that transcends the Kenyan borders.
My current duties as a lead facilitator include training and mentoring Andela fellows in apprenticeship by leading a team of junior developers through technical execution of project work, observing their work and giving feedback to steer their growth towards being developers who can work with the company’s offshore clients. I lead junior developers from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.
What got me this promotion is the fact that I am passionate about software development and have a hunger for growth. In August 2016 for instance, I undertook a six-month computer science course with Udacity, an online education site. The knowledge I gained helped me to enrich my understanding for software development. This enabled me offer better leadership and training to my juniors.