Paying it Forward: An Alumni Community's Impact
“Being a participant of TNE opened my eyes to a lot of things especially with regard to skills acquisition. This is something we were never exposed to throughout high school and university. In high school, there was no real career-inclined exposure. At best, it was teachers and people around who motivated and inspired you to follow your dreams”
-Linda Nwagu, 2022 The Next Economy Alumni
Like many alumni of The Next Economy who received intensive core life skills, employability and entrepreneurship training, Linda joined the program because of an immense need to acquire skills that can make her employable or set her on the path for success in her chosen career. That’s the story of young people in Nigeria who spend at least a decade of schooling without being fully prepared for the job market. Although education and experience may qualify one to apply for a job, one’s success depends on exhibiting a combination of employability and entrepreneurial skills, which are currently absent from the Nigerian education curriculum.
But, “a platform like TNE offers an important opportunity not only for young people to acquire relevant career skills, but also an opportunity to pay it forward to other young people ”. The visit to Sanctus Lumen Christi Schools by a group of 15 TNE alumni was one of those many opportunities. Mr Ifeanyi Obi has headed the school for over 20 years and according to him, “the rigid formal structure of Nigeria’s education system makes it difficult to implement necessary career training to young students in secondary schools”. It was easy to immediately see the value in and accept TNE Alumni’s outreach and offer. Passing down the knowledge they acquired was really important for the alumni, and the choice of high school students was especially imperative. So when Helen Okafor, a student from Sanctus Lumen Christi Schools, shared that “listening to young people who have gone ahead of me talk about these career skills was an eye-opening experience. This first introduction to these skills will be useful as I try to navigate my career choices in the future,” it was a testament to the value of the alumni outreach.
Give-get is the best way to describe the experience for the alumni. It was an opportunity to be ambassadors of The Next Economy program, and to do something more with what they have been given in the program.