They’re Lost! Guide Them!

Recently Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, ranted on Twitter about youth. In her own words she referred to them as selfish, inefficient  and unreliable, having had the worst experience employing them. Young people were up in arms about Tweet. I found her views as a leader, rather disappointing and self-defeating.

Fast forward, I recently almost agreed with Amelia when a young person quit a course we offer, when he was at what we consider the best stage of the training. We had secured him an internship placement in a very reputable organization and he was given a task to last him the month with minimal supervision. On what we assumed to be a routine mentorship health-check, we learned he had quit!  What? At his time to shine? We knew him as someone with good judgment and it didn't make sense. His reason? He did not think the task he had been given was important and felt his supervisor just wanted to get him out of his hair. Of course he was dead wrong.
At the peak of my frustration, I remembered I’d made a similar career blunder years before. I too had quit a 6 months volunteer position at an audit firm, where I’d been promised I might be hired.  My mother had secured it for me through her networks.  The boss, a very kind and fatherly man, asked me for my vision that year, 5 years and 10 years from then.  I feared he might ridicule me, but on the contrary, he was encouraging and guided me to think more creatively and strategically.
A few moments later he sent me to join the team and attached me to a supervisor who immediately gave me files and instructions for my first assignment. He ended with,
“These are simple. You can do them, right?”
I heard myself say “Yes”.
Looking through the files, however, my throat dried. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I'm not an auditor. The accounting I know is basic. It was embarrassing to have graduated and yet seemingly know nothing! You wouldn't want to show your supervisor on your first day at work that you know nothing relating to your work, especially when they've made an assumption that you know. Another kind gentleman passed by, made small talk with me and tried to teach me. Since I was already in a state of panic, I didn't really learn.
My pride gave way. I didn't like how it felt not to know. I also feared to ask for help.  Everyone was evidently busy with important reports and close deadlines. What if they had thrown this assignment my way to keep me out of their way? I went home one evening and decided that I'm not going back. I decided that I'll stick to looking for a job where I will soar. As if that wasn't a bad enough decision, I never formally communicated my decision. I just never mustered the courage. It sounds ridiculous now that I know better.
Genuinely good young people can at times be annoying and disappointingly unwise. They don't see things as you do. They fear they are expected to know everything on day one. They are not sure the assignments given to them matter. They assume they are burdensome to their supervisors who seem to be quite busy.
Mentor them.  Hold their hand through these confusions. Have a heart to heart.  Have some hard talk. Share experiences…make time. Please don't give up.

Our student has resumed his internship assignment with a much better attitude.

Now come to think of it, I need to apologize to the gentleman who graciously opened his door to a confused young girl who slammed it in his face.  I can only imagine his disappointment.

Linda Mwesigwa
Communications & Partnerships Coordinator,
STEPUP Standard Limited

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