Looking back to my college times 15 years back, I vividly remember the stressful days of working on final year project mandatory as partial fulfillment for graduation of the five year study in engineering. In my time it was common that one student would be assigned to one project much of the time in a completely new area where a range of skill and knowledge is necessary to realize practical project. My thesis topic was “Digital image processing for edge detection using visual C++ programming”. Both the problem area and the programming language were completely new to me and I had to study relentlessly until 4:00 am every night. Even though I had relatively good CGP, I was under huge distress fearing that I may not make it for graduation especially the first two months for I couldn’t make any development. Thank God, one night I was able to run functional programming code that realized basic image processing step that brought to me a big sigh of relief. I soon realized that life after graduation is not about running an intelligent line of programming code, it needs a new set of attitude and soft skills which make graduates fit for the real world of work and which our universities fail to properly address.
Huge numbers of students graduate every year and securing relevant job has become increasingly difficult for many. However; the country is crying for competent and ethical professionals who could bring change and fasten the development in every sector.
In my career as university industry linkage and technology transfer expert at GIZ, I realized the challenges of matching industry needs with talented and well behaving interns and graduates. Company owners (both in service and manufacturing) complain a lot about the unpreparedness of recent graduates for real world of work saying, “they lack practical skills but worse they lack the discipline and work ethics crucially important for the image and standing of our company”. On the contrary I have seen passionate and talented graduates who have a big potential to bring change that the companies are looking for.
As you prepare to embark the long journey of professional career, I would like to encourage you to prepare yourself as Christians who aspire to bring glory to God; competent enough in exceeding the expectations of employers; even more importantly endeavor to create small and medium enterprises that creates job for others. Ones again I would love to affirm with you that this country has untapped potential for entrepreneurship especially for business that run with dignity and integrity for the people it serves.
Fasil W/Gebriel (Msc); Practicing professional electrical engineer, senior program officer and advisor at GIZ for the topic of university industry linkage, technology transfer and entrepreneurship