The last six months have been amazing yet strangely eye-opening. When we launched our 'Get started, get focused – Tuesdays' on The Big Breakfast, our mission was to debunk the myth that we miraculously arrived at our present status in our careers and lives. We all started learning the ropes of life and work in the most basic of ways. Somehow we were lucky enough to have parents and guardians who knew that unless we learnt to appreciate work and its relation to self-worth and money, we were doomed.
I have been a messenger, waitress and basic KYM and even when I started at Capital, all I did for months and months was key-in music into the system, do the traffic update, read classifieds before I was even allowed to “drive” the desk for Phil Mathews (no talking) before they even let me have a show.
So yes, we are duty bound to inspire a generation by telling the story of our journey. After six months of
doing that, we are now embarking on putting some substance behind the stories. A lot of young people would text and say “the calls are great, powerful, but where can I get my start”. So we purposed to do just that – give them a place to start. Once again I’m appealing to those looking to fill entry level, start up positions for young people to drop me an e-mail with the particulars and leave the rest to me: Caroline@kissfm.co.ke. These start-up positions do not exclude shampoo girls, hairdressers, waiters, waitresses, front office personnel, sales people etc. Those who are interested will apply and get a start on their lives, those who don’t get will spend their time whining.
Aside – to those who don’t seem to understand that I’m asking employers to send me their vacancy positions, please stop e-mailing me your CVs. I have no need for them. If you want a job at Radio Africa write to our Human Resources Manager. That’s her docket. I don’t hire people like she doesn’t do The Breakfast show.
Last week, a fabulous organisation looking for executive drivers responded to our appeal. Imagine my bemusement and Jalango’s anger when the usual numbskulls on social media chose to “diss” the vacancy. Because I have been known to be brutally honest to the point of making some people weep, allow me to quote Saliva Vic who posted the following on my wall:
I just have to give my 2 cents on all these dumb, ignorant, sleeping, intellectual midgets who talk smack on facebook. I used to be like you, thinking that coz I have a degree then I'm entitled to a plush job.....Unlike many I was lucky to finish Uni in 2 years & got to work for a multinational media company straight out of campus but nooooo that wasn't good enough for me. I jumped ship & went to a multinational packaging company that offered 6 figures at 26! But then I got bored & bailed after 4 months to work for a well known Hotel chain....I was made manager at 27 but coz my boss hated me guess what I did? I quit! Boy oh boy! That's when Sir Jah had it up to the neck with me.....He got tired & left me out in the cold....after a year I went to work for a start up radio station....I loved it but then thanks to my "entitlement" issues I decided to bail from my show to audition for a 6 figure job at the competition... not only did I get fired but I also didn't get the other job....now at 30 I have a child I need to school, a degree, maaad certificates but no job.... it took me 6 years to wake up & smell the cow dung... I only hope this long azz post makes you wake up in 6 minutes! To borrow from one of your lame rap icons, Y.O.L.O. Stop showing us your azz & show us what you got!
A few years ago when I made the move from Capital to Kiss, Gerald Mahinda had also just made the move from Standard Chartered to EABL. As he gave me his reasons on why I should take the job at Kiss (I do consult), I asked him how and why he made the move from banking to brewing. His answer stays with me to this very day and every time I speak to young people, I quote him. “Sometimes you need to move horizontally to move vertically”. I’d like to now add my own line to that, "because the career ladder is dead”.
Career ladders died out during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Let me tell you why by borrowing from Sherly Sandberg, the chief operations officer of Facebook . “It used to be that in order to reach more people than you could talk to in a day, you had to be rich and famous and powerful. You had to be a celebrity, a politician, a CEO. But that’s not true today. Now ordinary people have voice, that means anyone with access to Facebook, Twitter, a mobile phone”.
When Sherly Sandberg went to work for Facebook as COO, she was met with reactions very much like those from the numbskulls on my FB wall. At the time people asked her, “why are you going to work for a 23-year-old?”
My dear Generation Y, the career ladder is dead. It doesn’t make sense in a less hierarchical world. As you start your post high school, college, university career, look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off, or in the words of Gerald Mahinda, move horizontally so you can move vertically. Build your skills, not your CV. Evaluate what you can do, not the title they’re going to give you. Do real work and real work is what I’m trying to get for you by pleading to employers from every walk of life to contact me.
If you speak to Rachel in my office, she’ll tell you that until last year, my business cards had no title. I do far too many jobs around here including dropping and picking banners to bother with title. There isn’t enough space on a card to define me and I’m fine with that.
My dear Generation Y, allow me once again to borrow from Sandberg. “You are entering a different business world from the one I entered. Mine was just starting to get connected. Yours is hyper-connected. Mine was competitive. Yours is way more competitive. Mine moved quickly, yours moves at lightspeed”. It's a different world. But if a world without career ladders allows you to take charge of your own career, then it is a far better one.
If you don’t get started, somewhere, anywhere and you waste even a month twiddling your thumbs waiting for Kiss 100 to post a job that gives you the swag you think you deserve, you’ll be 27 before it hits you and by that time a 22-year-old will be your boss. Guaranteed. As you step out into the world, you will not be able to rely on who you are or the degree you hold.
You’ll have to rely on what you know. Your strength will not come from your place on some organisation chart, your strength will come from building trust and earning respect. You’re going to need talent, skill, imagination and vision to make it. My dear Generation Y, as we endeavor to try and find vacancies for you, remember this: If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask which seat, just get on.
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