It’s the beginning of the year, a time when many take stock, try to find their passion and purpose, and follow their heart, particularly in matters career. As NJERI MAINA writes, one only regrets the decisions never made and the paths never taken
It is not uncommon to feel unfulfilled and disillusioned with one’s career path. It is also not uncommon to find that whatever you studied in school has little or no bearing to the career path you would like to pursue. If you are ever in this predicament, know that you are in good company.
Koffi Olomide is known to many due to his illustrious musical career. What many may not know is that he has a bachelor’s degree and a PhD in business economics. 2 Chainz is a rapper known for hardcore hits such as Beez in the Trap, I’m Different and We Own It.
Despite his arguably simplistic lyrics, 2 Chainz graduated second in his class in high school and went on to acquire a degree on scholarship. Ice Cube, a rapper of the Check Yo Self fame, also known for his appearance in comedies such as Barbershop and Ride Along, studied architectural design.
Ice Cube intended for architecture to be his plan B if rapping did not work out. Closer home, we have Wahu, who has a thriving singing career despite, or perhaps, because of her bachelor’s degree in mathematics. In the same household, we have Nameless, a celebrated recording artiste and architect.
What all these examples do is show that education is indeed important, but it is alright to follow your passion even if you might be a tad clueless about the field you are passionate in.
Being the beginning of the year, it is important to take stock, find your passion and purpose and follow your heart, even though your college papers may be of a different field.
Here are a few people who will inspire you to take that leap. They veered off the careers they had chosen and studied towards, to follow other career paths.
Many know him as the host of KCB Lion’s Den, a television show that seeks to finance entrepreneurial ideas that are good enough to pass the scrutiny of the chosen panel of industry heads.
He is also a board member at the Kenya National Theatre and the creative copywriter behind many hilarious adverts for leading brands such as Safaricom. He studied International Relations at university and had even landed a job at one of the leading NGOs in the country.
He instead declined that job offer and chose to cut off his dreadlocks and camp at Scanad offices for two weeks straight till he was allowed to see the boss, who gave him a shot at being a copywriter.
“It is never easy to step into the unknown,” the creative says. “You just have to be ready to put down your head and work hard and learn.”
Teddy read a lot of books on copywriting. He was open to learn from both his peers and seniors, and took every opportunity and short courses to expand his skills. Today, he is one of the most sought-after copywriters and creative directors in the country.
Mr Jemedari, née Joseph Wambua, is a renowned rapper and singer recognised for the hit songs Msenangu and Slave Now, King Later. He is also a voiceover artiste best known for being the voice of K24 TV.
He left an illustrious career in tech after suffering burnout and getting tired of routine, and instead chose to pursue a career in the creative arts.
He has a degree in IT, which the rapper says still serves him in his new career choice as well as in his personal life.
“Despite not actively using my IT degree, I do not see the time spent pursuing it as wasted, as the degree is still useful to date. I find it easy to navigate the tech space because of it. I can take up and understand new tech faster than my peers,” the Letter to the President hitmaker explains.
Jemedari quit his tech job without any safety net. Though it all worked out, he believes one should try to at least have a plan and identify their passion.
“Whatever you do, keep learning. Whether you take a leap of faith or a calculated leap complete with a buffer fund, just make sure you have identified your passion as it is only passion that will help you persevere through the lean years and the hard times that accompany most career changes,” he advises.
“It is always scary to leave a well paying job and set out onto the murky waters of a new career or even entrepreneurship. You will constantly ask yourself questions such as ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ and ‘What if it does not pan out?’
But the fact that you are so invested in it that you are considering all the different scenarios is exactly why you should do it anyway!”
These words of wisdom are from Migwa Nthigah, a self-trained professional photographer whose portfolio spans brand giants such as Coke Studio, KCB and Safaricom.
Armed with a degree in communications from Daystar University, Migwa would join Scanad as an account executive immediately after university. He loved photography so much that he would do his day job during the week and dabble in photography on weekends.
He slowly built his photography skills through YouTube tutorials and mentors till he was confident enough to take the big leap into being a self-employed photographer.
His account executive experience helped him better package himself as a photographer. It also helped him become a better photographer as he had knowledge of what a good photograph should or should not look like.
“You will never be fully prepared to fly solo. No matter how ready or how much research you do before taking the leap, it will be scary nonetheless. The only thing you can do is be committed to the vision of your future and do what needs to be done,” Migwa shares.
Mike Olulo is the founder of 56 Authentique, a fashion house that deals in bespoke suits. He has dressed many couples on their wedding day, helped dress brands during launches and relaunches, as well as dressed equally as many celebrities among them King Kaka. What many may not know is that he has a degree in astronomy and astrophysics.
“Fashion has always been my passion. I started my fashion house while in Second Year and have never looked back since,” he explains.
Mike would still finish his degree despite the growing success of his company, as he is a firm believer in education. He believes that no education or experience is ever wasted, even units in astronomy and astrophysics.
To those looking to get into a field that is different from what they studied, the 2016 Safaricom Blaze mentor advises they do this as a carefully calculated move rather than just a blind emotive leap.
“Do the research. Know how and why you are going to do it. Be passionate and learn the business of what you want to do. Take a leap of faith, a carefully calculated leap, not a blind one,” he counsels.
HR specialist Sarah Owako says staying in an unfulfilling career is more detrimental than leaving and following a path that one is more passionate about. “If you are in a job you do not enjoy and it’s crippling your productivity and happiness, you are not just cheating your employer, you are cheating yourself too,” she says.
She, however, advises caution when leaving one job for the allure of another field that you may be more passionate in. She says that one should first try and identify at what point they started feeling disillusioned with work. If it is due to something that can be addressed such as pay, working conditions or interrelationship issues, quitting might be too drastic an action.
Psychologist Dr Peter Kanyiri also advocates for introspection when considering a career change as it is not a step to be taken lightly. “More often than not, stress from one area of a person’s life can spill over into another area, making them feel grey about everything.
For instance, a marriage can break down and this can make someone be unhappy with everything in their life including their work,” the psychologist explains. “One should be careful to isolate the trigger and deal with it in order to ascertain whether they are truly disillusioned with work or are simply overwhelmed with life.”
However, if one finds that they truly cannot be happy at their current job, they should then put steps into place to ease the transition period. “Research the field you want to go into. Save enough money to ease your entry into that field after you quit your job.
If you are not too sure about putting all your eggs into that one basket, take a short hiatus to try that job with a view of coming back if it does not pan out. Whatever you do, know that it takes courage and one only regrets the decisions never made and the paths one never took,” he sagely concludes.
So, if you are happy to do what you are doing, thank the job gods that aligned you and your profession. If you are not, you could always get an emergency fund and parachute off to explore the career of your choice. Whatever you choose and whichever decision you make, we wish you a prosperous 2019 where you have the courage to do the needful and the tenacity to stick through with it.