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Open Letter to Recent University Graduates

By Nathan Were

You got your degree, you worked hard for it and you have all the reasons to celebrate! It is a good feeling but real life has just got started. You are entering a very competitive world, a world you must quickly get used to in order to curve and shape a future for yourself.

You will be rejected, you will walk, you will write many job applications and life will start to seem hopeless a few months following your degree excitement. Here are a few tips that you might find useful as you strive to survive.

To achieve your aspirations, you must change from the person you are right now. The person you are, may not be good enough to circumvent the challenges you are about to encounter. You must get out of your normal sluggish body, elevate your attitude to fish out from the limited opportunities in this world.

Your degree has given you the knowledge, it is now time to test your attitude. Keep your expectations low and take on even the smallest opportunity that comes your way as you continue hunting for better ones.

Prepare to be rejected but don’t let rejections kill your spirit: Pick some lessons from every ‘NO’ and use those lessons to shape your next hunt.

When I was 13, I hawked ladies’ shoes in a small town. I got so many rejections and would go a day or two without a single sale sometimes. But I would wake-up with a new tactic every day and that eventually delivered a few sales.

If you retreat because you received a NO, you only surrender your next opportunity to someone else. I applied to go to Harvard Business School in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, in all those years, I received a NO. In 2016, I got accepted. Just imagine if I had given up in 2015!

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You will be rejected many times, but you can’t afford to give up. Keep trying and try one more time. Between 2005 and 2007, the computer lab at the faculty of computing at Makerere was my bedroom. I can’t recall the countless times I slept there searching for scholarships for a master’s program.

I applied to Universities in the UK, Norway, the US, Germany, Belgium and got rejected. But didn’t give up, in 2007 I got one in Italy. There’s an opportunity for you somewhere, but you must find it. Every time you retreat because you got a NO, you hand it to your neighbor.

Don’t be boxed in one place! You must strive to do many things. Search for scholarship opportunities to enhance your capacity, try out small businesses, search for a job among other things.

Keep your options open and God will open a door through the many opportunities you are pursuing. When I finished my first degree in 2005, I set up a small stationery shop in Nakawa but I was also doing some tailoring work, searching for scholarships to study further and looking for a job.

By 2007, my small business was doing well. I had received a job offer and won a scholarship. From no opportunity in 2005 to spoilt for choice in 2007. Keep all the options on the table!

Pray: The most important weapon to overcome anything is prayer! Pray without ceasing and ask God to open doors of opportunity. Like he says in Jeremiah 29:11, he indeed has plans for you, but you must strive to find them as you pray for the doors to open.

Good Luck!

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