As a youth undergoing NYSC in Nigeria, your main cup-of-tea is how do you get a job after the NYSC. Good or bad, the NYSC gives every graduate a platform to be attached to an employer for a period of one-year. If I would accurately document my service year and the ‘waka-waka’ that happened between March 2013 and February 2014 as a Lagos Corper, chai I would need to write another book (different from “Act Like a Corper, Think Like a Gold” which has now sold 1000+ copies).
As an undergraduate, I had read materials and books about the NYSC including one written by Bro. Rasheed Hashim (I can’t quite remember the title). Most of the books I read spoke about the #LifeOfACorper from different experiential Points of view of the authors. However, almost all of them gave an orientation about the four cardinal points of the NYSC – Orientation Camp, Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), Community Development Service (CDS) and Passing Out Parade (POP). What caught my attention most was the CDS. I loved the idea of youth Corps Members giving back to the society and I resolved, quite early, that I would participate in CDS when I am mobilized for service.
When my Service Year came, I discovered that things aren’t as easy as they seem. CDS Projects take time, energy, money and politics to execute. Plus, you have to cross the hurdles of NYSC’s bureaucratic processes of project approval. As a Lagos Corper, posted to a Local Government Office (Onigbongbo LCDA, Ikeja to be precise), I was meant to deal with No Salary from my Employer. In fact, the day I resumed at the Onigbongo LCDA, along side Shakirah Aregbesola (daughter of the Osun State Governor) who had also been posted there, the Local Government clerk laid two options before us: Accept a Rejection Letter or Decide to Stay at no pay. We chose to stay. Man cannot coman die, this is Lagos.
With the technical support of Noble Microsystems Ltd, I proposed to build the “CopaShun Moblie App” as my CDS project. I laboured for five solid months trying to get an approval for my project, but with no luck. My Local Government Inspector, Zonal Inspector and NYSC State CDS Officials were skeptical about giving me an approval because they felt my project wasn’t “physical”. They were right! Lol! I was proposing to build a Software (a Mobile Application that helps Corps Members access and connect to social and life-saving information), but no matter how much I tried to explain and picture the App, they couldn’t “see” it. I will leave the full gist of how I managed to get the Copashun Project approved (after the sixth month of persistent trials) for another post.
Copashun was finally approved, executed and to the glory of God, it is what metamorphosed to what we now have as the official NYSC Mobile Application ( used by over 75,000 Corpers Nationwide).
In the above picture (R-L) stood Mr. Tim Akano (CEO, New Horizon Systems & WiniGroup), Yours truly (my humble self), Mariam Abdulsalam (another Corps Member who had also being offered employment) and Mrs. Racheal Edeawor (NYSC Lagos State SAED Coordinator).
We had been gathered at the University of Lagos Main Auditorium for an Employability Readiness & Job Fair event organized by the NYSC Lagos State Secretariat in partnership with New Horizon Systems. The programme was setup to get Corps Members ready for the Labour Market. The most interesting part of it is the Job Fair and the LIVE Job Interview in which the ultimate winner is offered instant employment with New Horizons Systems. The event usually takes place few weeks to the end of the Service Year of a batch, in our case it was a week to our POP. For a population of over 4000 Corps Members (in my batch), the NYSC organized an LGA-based Aptitude Test to select the Best five (5) Corps Members whom will be interviewed at the Job Fair and out of whom one will be the Lucky Employee.
As a person who abhors queues, I immediately detested the idea of a free-for-all and uncoordinated testing system where candidates are made to take a piece of paper and scramble answers to a few random questions, while standing under the scorching sun. You remember the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Job Scam? Something like that. I only wrote my name and code number, for the sake of marking the attendance. I knew the chances of me being amongst the 5 Corps Members to be interviewed for the job, out of over 4000 Corpers who took the test was less than 0.00125.
The day (February 4th 2014) came and we were all seated at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Main Auditorium, watching the event unfold in front of us. I was given a five minutes opportunity to make a presentation about the “CopaShun Mobile Application” that has just been built and was slowly gaining traction. The Keynote speaker at the event was Tim Akano, the CEO of New Horizon Systems and he made his speech about the relevance of Information Technology (IT) Knowledge in the labour market. Tim Akano is an entrepreneur who travels around the world searching for business opportunities and that time he had just returned from a trip to Israel and was very excited to meet with over 4000 Corpers freshly being discharged into the labour market.
Though his presentation was promotional, showcasing the IT courses that New Horizon Systems offer, it was also inspirational. He mentioned and elaborated different IT Skills including A+, Cisco, ITIL etc. When he got to Java, he gave more elaborate examples of job place scenarios and opportunities for people who code in Java. Then he asked the 'golden question'. He wanted to know if any of us understood or knew anything about Java. He could almost bet that no one would have a good answer to his question, because Java is a programming language that a lot of people dread. As he finished asking the question, there was only one hand raised up in the entire auditorium, the hand of Yours Truly. He was surprised that one person wanted to at least try. I was given the microphone and he asked,
“Young man, what do you know about Java”.
“Thank you sir”, I started my response.
“Java is a unique Object-Oriented programming language used in building web and mobile applications.” “I write and code with Java sir.”
“Really?” , he responded in utter surprise.
“Yes sir, Not only that sir, I am an Oracle Certified Professional Java Programmer (OCPJP).” I added. “Really?”, he exclaimed again.
“Come forward, come forward” he repeated with a louder voice.
The hall was elated, filled with a kind of energy that was almost capable of tearing the roof. Then Tim asked his last qualifying question, “What have you done with Java?”
“Sir, I have built a Sicknesses Diagnosis and Prescription system. Sir, I developed a Virtual Patients Bay (a Java Mobile Application for Medical Students) as my final year project and I also developed the Copa Shaun Mobile Application for the NYSC.” I responded.
The entire hall raged with loud noises of excitement from very MOTIVATED Corpers. Upon hearing all these, Tim’s motivation was twice that of all the Corpers combined. He was super elated. Then he said to me: “Come up, come up.”
I ran up to the stage to meet him, not knowing what to expect. Then he said, “I am going to give you two gifts. First, you have a cash prize.” He reached into his suit’s pocket and brought out a new hundred dollar note.
Then he added, “Your second gift is, if you can come to my office tomorrow and prove to me that you can truly use Java, I will employ you tomorrow.” Once again, the hall was raised to an intense height of motivation. He handed me the crisply new 100 Dollar bill. As I returned to my seat, every corps member wanted to have a feel of the money. Some even suggested how we would ‘goan’ change it at an Aboki’s place. I gave the money out to Corpers sitting in the front rows and everyone who could touch it did until eventually the money was returned to me. The very new note came back with a lot of rough hedges here and there. I sha put my money in my pocket like that.
Tim continued with his presentation until he got to that part of his slide that talked about Oracle Database Management. He added that services of Oracle Database Professionals are always needed in the Telecommunications and Banking Sectors. He then asked the golden question again, “how many of you here know Oracle?”. Guess which hand was up again? Mine of course, but this time we were two. Femi Olaleye, a bosom friend and fellow DBA, had also raised up his hands. Tim’s attention was drawn towards me, partly because I was sitting within the front rows (as a vertically challenge individual you have to use your head. Lol) and partly because he had just finished speaking with me and even gave me hundred dollars.
He instructed that I be given the Microphone and enquired, “What do you know about Oracle, young man?” At that time, Oracle Database Management had just become my new forte. I had worked on Oracle Databases, got certified up to OCPDBA level and even trained others. With confidence, I responded “Sir, I am an Oracle Certified Associate Database Administrator (OCADBA) and an Oracle Certified Professional Database Administrator (OCPDBA)”. Again, the hall went agog.
“What is your name”, he asked.
“My name is Mubarak Tiamiyu sir.”, I responded.
“The name doesn’t even matter”, he interjected.
“Which school did you attend?”, he further asked.
“LAUTECH Sir”, I replied.
“Ooh okay. That’s good”, Tim said.
I still had the microphone with me at that time. Hence, I took a few minutes to remind him of my first encounter with him. Tim Akano and his team from New Horizon Systems had come to LAUTECH in 2009 to market their IT Courses. I was just in 200 Level, trying to find my feet. His presentation, at the 1200LT caught my attention even though I couldn’t afford any of the courses at the time. The interest I picked from his talk led me to seek alternative pathways (through friends and course-mates) towards learning Information Technology beyond the classroom.
Tim was further elated, his job glorified. It seemed that it was the first time he was meeting anyone who confirms that all his “talk-talk” across 46 countries makes sense. In his own words, “Dear Mubarak, you are a living testimony to all my efforts promoting IT everywhere I have been. Today, I am going to do for you what I have never done for anyone in my life.”
At this stage, I was already scared, the audience in total suspense. This is a man who had just given me a hundred dollar bill as gift, now that he wants to do for me “what he has never done for anybody before, what could that mean?”, I thought to myself.
Lo and behold, Tim made the pronouncement.
“Dear Mubarak, you are hereby hired! From today, you have become one of my staff. You have a job with me. Congratulations.”
Wooooow! I thought it was a dream. Is it real that I have gotten a job? Just like that? I didn't write a Job Application Letter, I didn't send any CV neither was I interviewed. How? I looked around and found all 4000+ corpers in my batch still seated.
I was called up stage and given a (white plastic) chair to seat. I sat right on the stage with Tim and other dignitaries till the end of the event.
When the Scheduled interview (for the five Pre-selected Corps Members) took place, the beautiful Maryam Abdulsalam came first position and was offered a job too. Apparently, only one Job Offer was provisioned for the event, but when you are truly and beneficially loaded, protocols don't hold no more.
I started my Post-NYSC job career working with Tim. Because of my technical skills, Tim posted me to his second company (WiniGroup Nig. Ltd) which deploys the nation’s best IT Risk & Security Solutions to a wide range of clients in the banking sector.
It was a great learning experience working at New Horizon Systems c/o WiniGroup and having Tim as a mentor till this day. One of the things that stood out for me was the knowledge and practical skills I had gained before and during my service year. In my book, “Act Like a Corper, Think Like a Gold” I share more practical nuggets and secrets which anyone (particularly the Youth) can implement to make the best use of the opportunities at their disposal. Remember I said, “If you are loaded, you will be needed.”?
If you are a Youth (Corps Member) or know an Undergraduate or a (Prospective) Youth Corps Member whose future is important to you, kindly order a copy of “Act Like a Corper, Think Like a Gold” for them and they will bless your soul forever.
A copy of the book costs 1000 Naira in Nigeria, 5 Dollars in the US and 5 Pounds in the UK.
NB: Delivery costs may apply. Order via: +2348097870000.
Thanks for reading.
#ActLikeACorper #ThinkLikeAGold #EmdeeTiamiyu #LifeOfAnAuthor #LifeOfASpeaker #LifeOfACorper #YouHaveARightToBeMotivated