Author: Philip Mbwaya, ALUSB Marketing Coordinator
In this ever-changing job market, recent graduates and young professionals need to be highly proactive in equipping themselves with the skills and mindset that employers value and search for.
But what are employers really looking for? ALUSB recently organised an online panel discussion with Human Capital leaders across Africa to discuss how recent graduates and young professionals can best differentiate themselves and build a standout career.
Read on to discover 5 ways you can differentiate yourself and build a standout career according to HR experts:
1. Have the drive and willingness to learn
In order to thrive as a young professional, you have to be open-minded and curious. You will be introduced to a lot of new tools, platforms, and ways of working, so having a learning mindset is crucial to your growth.
Tip: take professional courses in areas of personal interest that will make you more efficient in your role!
2. Develop your communication skills
You’ve probably heard this before, but: communication is key. The ability to speak up and communicate your thoughts clearly is essential to achieving your career goals. On top of that, good and effective communication will also improve team dynamics and help you build stronger business relationships.
Tip: communication can only be improved by frequent practice, so take every opportunity to practice your written and verbal communication skills!
3. Embrace creativity and continuous improvement
The work environment thrives on efficient working systems and minimising the waste of resources such as time and finances. Beyond your day to day tasks, you should be creative and try to find solutions that improve the general performance of the organisation.
Tip: have conversations and brainstorming sessions with teams outside your department. Who knows, they might inspire you!
4. Develop the agility to undertake tasks
When you join a new organisation or company, you might already have a vision of what you would like to do. However, there might be instances where you have to perform in areas outside your job description. When an opportunity like that arises, don’t shy away from it: be willing to get your hands dirty. It could actually be quite rewarding to learn more about a side of the business that you weren’t familiar with before. This flexibility often leads to more opportunities!
Tip: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone!
5. Enhance your networking skills
Once you’ve developed the skills that make you stand out, the next priority is to stay top-of-mind with your colleagues and potential employers! Three ways to achieve this: networking, networking, and networking. This will expose you to the right kind of opportunities that align with your career goals.
“It is important that you’re top-of-mind for the right reasons.”
– Diana Gombe ‘21, HR Business Partner, Africa Field Division
Tip: Network with a clear notion of your career goals.
Shaped by the needs of leading employers across Africa, the goal of the brand new ALUSB Master of Management programme is to equip young professionals and recent graduates with the business skills, elite pan-African network, and leadership ability to add value to an organisation!
Start your application today at: https://bit.ly/MMAPPLY21 and start your career acceleration journey!
Every 4 months, the ALUSB MBA students travel to Kigali for a week-long “intensive” where they get to connect with their peers and learn directly from African business leaders. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent travel restrictions, we were unable to conduct our intensive in person. Nonetheless, the ALUSB community gathered online for an exciting week of engaging sessions led by academic experts and business leaders from across the world.
Read on to discover some of last week’s highlights and takeaways!
The ALUSB MBA is a blended, part-time programme. This means that the MBA is part in person (in Kigali, Rwanda) and part online, where students engage in interactive, online learning while remaining at work in their home countries. This part-time MBA learning structure requires students to dedicate approximately 20 hours per week to their studies during their online periods. And as the world was forced to move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our students became full-blown online learning experts! Although learning from home has become more common, distance learning is still a unique concept for most MBA students.
As we prepare for our second online ALUSB MBA intensive, we reached out to some of our ALUSB MBAs to put together a list of tips to make the most out of your online learning experience.
Sometimes, we come across a piece of advice that sticks with us and propels us forward. As part of our ‘Woman Of the Week’ campaign, ALUSB asked some of the women in our community to offer some advice to their peers in the ecosystem in the hopes of inspiring and empowering young, up-and-coming businesswomen across the continent. Whether you’re getting ready to make an important business move, take your career to the next level or just looking for some inspiration; this blog post is for you.
As the world celebrated Father’s Day this past Sunday, Chidi Afulezi, ALUSB’s Head Faculty for Product, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, took this opportunity to flip the script and bring attention to an important issue in our communities: gender-based violence. We’re honoured to share his reflections on fatherhood with our larger community.
I would like to shout out all the ALUSB fathers. Happy Father’s Day to you. It is my privilege to play this role with you…It is not easy, but the fact is, being a father is the ultimate job in life. Yes, you have or will soon have an ALUSB MBA, and you are a captain of industry that takes no prisoners, but all of that is really beside the point…to me, the true measure is to be most successful at being a good father.
Now, of course, I had to flip this a bit. I am the dad of three incredible young women in their teens, and that has me acutely focused on the pain and raw helplessness that many fathers experience when their daughters leave home and don’t come back, or come back with wounds deeper than any external damage. I find myself focused on the angst and shame that some fathers feel to know their sons leave home and become predators and perpetrators of incredibly cruel acts towards women in our communities.
“Father’s Day is a day for me and for the rest of the fellas out there to affirm our undying and unequivocal support for our women.”
Listen, I am not here to equivocate about any of this. Gender-Based Violence is real, and anyone who wants to get into nuance or “should haves, could haves” lost me when they opened their mouth to speak. As a father of three girls, the husband of another man’s daughter, the son of another man’s daughter, and the brother to another man’s daughters…Father’s Day is a day for me and for the rest of the fellas out there to affirm our undying and unequivocal support for our women.
We can’t be leaders, or successful business people, without that affirmation. Yes, we can breathe fire in the boardroom or negotiate under extreme circumstances. But, I’m a father of three members of Africa’s most important demographic segment, and I will do what I must to support them, that’s what matters most. Nothing matters more.
I appreciate you, and again, Happy Father’s Day.
In these times of great uncertainty, you might be wondering how business school admissions processes might have been affected. We sat down with Jacob Dodoo, Associate Director of Admissions and Marketing at ALU School of Business (ALUSB), to update you on any changes that the MBA programme has gone through as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How was ALUSB able to adapt its MBA programme when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out?
“We’re proud of what faculty and staff have been able to accomplish amidst unprecedented uncertainty …”
The ALUSB MBA comprises a blended learning model, which means that we combine interactive, online education with in-class sessions in Kigali, Rwanda, which are week-long experiences that we call “intensives”. Given lockdown restrictions this year, ALUSB decided to continue running its online components uninterrupted and review the timing and delivery of in-person sessions. We’re proud of what faculty and staff have been able to accomplish amidst unprecedented uncertainty and the feedback from students has been really positive.
As countries locked down across the continent and travel restrictions were put into place, we took the decision to postpone the matriculation date for the March 2020 MBA entrants to October 2020. As they prepare to start their programme in October, our incoming students will commence their learning with a brand new MBA prep programme, launching in July 2020.
In what way has COVID-19 affected the overall MBA programme?
The ALUSB MBA is a pan-African programme, drawing students from across the continent. As long as the global health risk remains high, we will seek to leverage our online capability and conduct as much learning as possible online. To make sure that the students can still benefit from the networking advantages of this pan-African MBA, we’ve incorporated more student activities to the intensive schedules as possible, to accommodate cohort bonding while providing additional networking opportunities with other MBAs from Africa and around the world!
How is the ALUSB Admissions team assisting students through their MBA application in the midst of the pandemic?
The admissions process for applicants to our MBA programme remains the same. The entire application process is online and one good thing about working from home is that potential applicants have some additional time to work on their MBA applications.
“… offering hands-on service and guidance to all applicants is the number one priority for the ALUSB Admissions team.”
As always, offering hands-on service and guidance to all applicants is the number one priority for the ALUSB Admissions team. We can be reached via email, WhatsApp, and phone. We also offer various online webinars on Zoom, in order to assist applicants in submitting stellar applications, while ensuring that their questions are answered. The ALUSB MBA “Virtual Application Clinic” is a Zoom webinar where the Admissions team presents applicants with a detailed overview of the ALUSB Admissions process. Similarly, the “How to Fund your ALUSB MBA” webinar is designed to share details on the funding options we offer, as well as to help applicants think constructively about how to fund their MBA. Don’t miss our next ‘How to Fund your ALUSB MBA’ webinar, which is coming up on Wednesday, 17 June!
If travel restrictions are still in place before the new MBA class matriculates, will the start of the programme be delayed?
ALUSB is investigating the possibility of running an online matriculation and intensive in October if travel restrictions persist. If this is approved, then there will be no delay to the start of the October 2020 MBA programme.
What could be the potential setbacks and constraints as a result of the current situation for students who want to apply for ALUSB MBA scholarships?
There will be no constraints for anyone that wants to apply for any of the ALUSB MBA scholarships. In fact, we have introduced new scholarships to diversify the perspectives in our MBA classrooms. I urge applicants to check them out in the financing section of our website.
Do you have any work from home tips for current students?
The whole ALUSB team is also working from home at the moment! A few tips that have helped me in transitioning to remote work are:
- Having a designated workspace or home office in your home.
- Having clearly defined working hours and taking regular, short breaks to stretch, breathe and clear my mind.
- Listening to podcasts on a daily basis.
- Communicate, communicate, over-communicate with your team! Keep aligning on deliverables and be sure to also check in with them regularly to ask how they are doing. It is better to over-communicate than to under-communicate.
What message do you have for anyone that is interested in joining the ALUSB MBA programme?
“At ALU School of Business, we are building a community of change-makers who are leading at the frontiers of pan-African business.”
African Leadership University is transforming education on the continent. At ALU School of Business, we are building a community of change-makers who are leading at the frontiers of pan-African business. Come be a part of our community and be inspired by the amazing work that is being done across Africa to drive this continent forward while transforming yourself as a leader. If this is something that excites you, then this programme is definitely for you!
You heard the man! Start your application today at: https://bit.ly/ApplyNowO20!