In my 3rd year in the University studying a degree in International Relations, one of my childhood friends was on holiday after her 3rd year at the College of Medicine. She had to spend a few months at home before proceeding to start her Clinicals. I asked her what she was doing in the mean time because I could recollect that my brother helped out in the hospital the previous year when he was on a long vacation. ‘I am learning to sew’ she replied. She mentioned the name of the tailor she was training with. And I thought to myself, ‘learning to sew?’ Why on earth would an aspiring Doctor be doing that?
But what do I know?
I attended a boarding School for my Secondary education and I learnt how to make hair. I didn’t go down the professional route to give myself a solid footing. I kept on learning the job, YouTube and online generally. If I were to turn back the hands of time, I would have done that differently.
Still, what do I know?
My first trip to the United Kingdom gave me the opportunity to use my talent of making hair and earn a bit of money. I was so overwhelmed with the demand. I remember the week I was travelling back home, my parents advised I spend that week enjoying myself, but the demand was so much that I couldn’t even have fun. A night before I left, I had to make a client’s hair. I even received calls from other customers who wanted me to make their hair but I had to politely decline, because the style they wanted was quite complicated and I didn’t think I could do a good enough job for them.
There were some people who called me but I had to decline because the type of style they wanted to do was too complicated, I was not good enough to do them. Other customers of mine had to go to the salon to make some styles that I did not know how to make. On my few holiday trips, I had more customers, had hair styles I still couldn’t make, yet I didn’t bother to train to become a professional hairdresser. To me, it was all about my degree.
Hey! What do I know?
I went back to the UK once again, this time for my masters’ degree. Whilst studying, I was making hair for clients by the side and it was good money. I resolved to learn from YouTube and I was doing pretty well. After my masters, I got a job but was still making hair part-time. Years later, I had to move to a French-speaking country with my husband. This meant that I could not work unless I got a job with an International Organization or English speaking Organization. I went back to advertising myself as a hairdresser. I found out that there were still some complicated styles I was not able to do. This made me lose some clients as I was limited in my knowledge of this particular business.
As at now, this is all I have to do. I am in School learning to speak and write French but at the same time making hair as a business by the side. Then I remembered my Doctor friend who was so smart enough to learn how to sew years back so that she can have something to fall back on, or a profession that can bring about having another source of income in this unpredictable economy we find ourselves in all over the world.
I want to let you know that life is not all about school education or your first degree but also about the skills that you acquire and equip yourself with. Yes, basic education is very paramount but also you have to look at what exactly you like to do and go for it. If you think you are creative and will be better off being a fashion designer, yes go to school and please look for a good fashion school to learn from and become a professional. Do not forfeit your passion for education, but educate yourself and also pursue your passion.
As a matter of fact, I met with a young man who is an IT Engineer in the UK. He loves painting and did train for a while to become excellent at it. When he found himself out of a job, he fell back to painting to pay the bills.
- Always remember not to be a jack of all trades, do not be here and there but be convinced, confident and define what it is you really want in life and go for it.
- Keep an open mind. You can never tell where you will find yourself. I never knew with my years of education, all the knowledge I acquired and the professional jobs I have taken up that I would one day go back to doing something entirely different because of change in my circumstances. I have met with many other women who moved from one country to the other as well, even men who moved with their professional wives; they didn’t see it coming, but they mostly had to sit at home or really struggle to find something doing.
I am aware of the situation in most African Countries. Problems range from joblessness to under-employment, everyone wanting to work in banks or other white-collared employment when they have the ability to start a life from their passion or talent. A good number of youths have all it takes to start on their own gradually but they are not interested in growing a business patiently.
Worse, those who have a 9-5 job do not see any reason why they have to engage in having a second source of income from their passion or talent. We forget that not only can we benefit from it by diversifying from only one source, but we can also be an employer to many others or to at least one other.
Excerpt from #2 Youth Shades
Hannah prefers to be referred to as a Life Coach. She is an Inspirational writer, founder of Inspiration with Hannah and Author of 9 Characteristics of Being Negatively Laid Back and Practical Steps to Combat It. Hannah encourages people going through life challenges, pointing them in the right direction by empowering them to think out solutions. She also inspires people on Health, Marriage, Relationships and other general ethics of life.
In 2012, she joined AfricaFreeaid, a non-governmental Organization as Voluntary Secretary and singlehandedly developed its constitution. She presently writes articles on work-life balance for Savvy Women Circle (Global Voice for Ambitious Women) a Women Leadership Social Enterprise Organization registered in Wales and England. She also featured on Inzpire TV Geneva to discuss why it is paramount for every woman to have a career.
Hannah obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria and a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Bristol Business School UWE, United Kingdom, respectively. She has a strong background working as a Human Resources Management Generalist. She is very compassionate, loves cooking, singing and traveling.
Hannah resides in Geneva, Switzerland and she is married with children. To learn more about Hannah, visit www.inspirationwithhannah.com/hannah
Hannah currently runs her monthly column, Inspiration with Hannah on Youth Shades.