By Nzayisenga Nahayo
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” These words were once uttered by Abraham Lincoln. They ring true 150 + years later from a career development perspective as Norbert Nahayo Ndashimye can attest to.
A graduate from Southern New Hampshire University through the Kepler program, Norbert used his skills learned from earning a Bachelor's of Arts in Business Communication when working as a Communication Officer at One Acre Fund, a nonprofit organization that supplies smallholder farmers in East Africa with asset-based financing and agriculture training services to reduce hunger and poverty. He is now living in Estonia and pursuing a Master’s degree in e-governance technologies and services from TalTech-Tallinn University of Technology. His goal is to use his education to upskill the society about how to leverage digital technology for a better life, as well as knowing how to control its use for a better life balance.
At the beginning of our interview, I asked him what sparked his interest in communications. He said that doing things that he really likes is key.
“I think it's my thing,” he said. “I like to interact with people. Secondly, I liked photography ever since I was young. It started when I was in boarding school. I used to take pictures of my colleagues and they used to pay me 200 Rwandan Francs for a single photo print; I did that for some time. That's how I grew up to find myself in the communications field.”
For me, this underscores that your career should align with your strengths. Ending up in a job that doesn’t correlate to one’s passions and skills affect not only your professional life, but your personal life will also be hampered.
It was interesting to hear how Norbert landed his first job. He shared: “I was doing an internship as a media manager for an NGO when one of the Kepler students who was working at One Acre Fund shared the job opening in their communications team. Knowing my passion for communications, she said that upon seeing the job opening, I immediately crossed her mind. I sent in my application. During the recruitment process, I used the skills I had acquired during my previous internship and other volunteering experiences to prove that I was the right candidate and then I landed the job.”
He advised students and others who are struggling with career growth to believe in themselves and have confidence. To gain clarity about career direction, Norbert recommends students volunteer in areas that are of interest to them.
“When I started at Kepler, there was a graduation coming up,” he said. “The guy who did communications was going to graduate as well. So, they needed someone to help. I heard about this and then reached out, offering to take photos and write stories. This opened up new opportunities for me.”
Norbert shared valuable advice for me and other students looking to not only land a job, but also grow in that role.
“Look at the organization you are working for and then start thinking about what they really need or the gaps that exist,” he said. “For example, take media relations - how you tell your organization’s story to the press. Think outside the box and come up with a story angle that you think your organization can share with journalists to generate positive media coverage. This will be helpful and lead to opportunities.”
Lessons and Takeaways
1. When choosing your career path, focus on your strengths.
It is important to pursue work one really enjoys.
2. Start volunteering as a first step. This is helpful because it will be a good way to gain experience. This is the step that you make to show what you are able to do for the employers as well as organization.
3. Communicate effectively.
I learned the importance of communicating our strengths. Norbert said: “Try to show people what you can do; this is the best way to get hired.”
This ties back to the previous point. By doing interesting volunteer work related to our goals, we can effectively communicate the impact in a job interview.
Communication is crucial for advancing in your career. Whether you are an entry-level employee or a job seeker, being able to communicate effectively is essential. It will not only take your career in the right direction, but also help you secure promotions.
Here are three main key takeaways from my discussion with Norbert that I will apply to reach my career goal of being a Communications Manager.
Don’t wait for the opportunity, start creating it. From Norbert, it was clear to see that if you want to be innovative, you can create those opportunities wherever you are. So, I am planning to start identifying what Kepler needs so that I can secure new opportunities.
Don’t expect immediate profit. Some people fail to pursue their career goals because they expected profit in the short-term instead having a long-term perspective. I learned from the interview that I need to put my energy towards following what I really like and learning from it. Norbert shared with us how he used to take pictures and they used to pay him 200 Rwandan Francs, which is not enough for such a service. Moreover, he volunteered at different events. These were stepping stones to reaching his career goal of being a Communication Officer at One Acre Fund. As a student, I should be patient and start pursuing my interests.
Know how to sell yourself. Knowing how to sell yourself is key to getting connected to employers. I will apply this skill by publishing on social media and other platforms to demonstrate my value to employers. Learning more about writing is another way that can help me grow in a communication career.
Norbert Nahayo Ndashimye is a student in masters degree in MSc e-Governance Technology & Services at Tal Tech-Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia. He has been Communication officer at One Acre Fund in Rwanda and Kenya. Connect with him via email@example.com or Linkedin. Nzayisenga Nahayo is a student studying communications at Kepler, Southern New Hampshire University, Global Education Movement in Rwanda. You can connect with him via email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone (+250780616056), or Linkedin. He wrote this story after going through Global Innovators Academy's Interview an Innovator online course experience.