Around this time in 2013, I received an email from Junior Achievement Nigeria that I had been selected for the Venture in Entrepreneurship and management program which was going to take place at the Lagos business school.
I was super excited but I was also a little bit scared for two reasons… You see I was a Youth Corper serving in Ibadan. I had no money and there was this trend of companies using training programs like these to scam corpers out of their miserly 19,800 Naira. I don’t mind paying for training programs but I wasn’t interested in at that point in time..
Ya girl was happily broke. I also didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life after NYSC… What kind of job was I qualified for? what if I didn’t like it? what is the meaning of management? do I need an MSC?
I was super confused yooo…. but.. I had this crazy ginger in me.. I wanted to do as many things as possible (without paying). I did all the free courses I could lay my hands upon, I travelled to about 5 states, I went to fashion school, learnt how to bake, had like 2 other jobs, learnt how to code on my phone, tried and failed to learn French, volunteer everywhere and so many other things. NYSC can be a waste of time but you can turn things around for yourself.
I had a physical diary of my NYSC experiences. If I find it I’ll share here.
Anyways, back to the topic.
I decided to attend the VIE program because it was free and I had nothing to lose. I didn’t know anyone who had been chosen before, neither did I know what to expect. It was a 2 week program at the Pan-African University (which was then in Victoria Island) and was structured like an MBA program. (That was my first time of hearing about an MBA). Now that I know more about MBA programs, I know it was well structure.. Like they tried.
I got to the venue bright and early on day 1 and I was impressed. Pan African University in VI was very small but really beautiful. They had pictures of students who had attended and when I saw pictures of people like Dangote, and other public figures, I was wide-eyed…
Then they gave us a curriculum of our 2-week program, outlining everything we were going to do, classes, our facilitators etc and I almost lost it. I wasn’t used to this kind of detail. We had managers, entrepreneurs and people with impressive profiles as our facilitators.
The classes also started on time and when we got to the lecture theatre, we had our name tags on our seat, our folders with our names, water for each participant etc… Now, this might not be a big deal now but it was then to me.. Who puts in this type of effort and budget into a free event for corpers.. I was determined to know exactly who these people where and to join them if possible.
We were taught sooo many new things in the course of this 2 weeks… I don’t know how we all took it in. We covered Business Ethics, Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Strategy, Social Enterprise, General Management, Leadership and Entrepreneurship. The classes were straight from 9-5 (with short breaks in between) but no one got tired.. We were taught the Harvard method, using case studies, experiences and class interaction and that was when I understood why Harvard graduates are soo smart… We had group projects, quizzes and too many good things.. Guys this was about 5 years ago and I still remember some things we were taught.
Representation matters guys and this isn’t only in gender. I really took note of the carriage and words of the facilitators and I wanted to be like so many of them so bad. I had never really seen people work in management and business but seeing these people, I knew that I wanted to experience both management and entreprenurial positions.
Two more things I liked about the program was how they included volunteer experiences in the curriculum. We took a day off to all go to a secondary school in Ikoyi to speak to the students. We were assigned in pairs to classes and had a double period to talk to them about things like getting serious in uni, skill acquisition etc. I remember my class was so interesting because we got into a heated conversation with one of the students who taught that university was a waste of his time because he wanted to be a musician….
After the 2 weeks, we (the students) kept in touch for as long as we could and I made some really dope acquaintances.
I think I wished I did better was to connect more with some facilitators and corporate volunteers. I know some people got jobs and connections this way but I was way too shy to walk up to anyone much older than I was.
I also signed up to volunteer with the organization, Junior Achievement Nigeria and while I haven’t been as active as I should be, I try to donate and contribute to their work in giving Nigerian students entrepreneurial and digital skills.
I was super happy when I saw that they had been nominated for the Google Impact challenge here:
I think they deserve this nomination and a win if possible. Other organizations nominated also deserve this but JA has made a positive impact on my life. This was what prompted me to write this post… It’s not sponsored neither do the organizers know about this… Hopefully, they see it very soon.
I am super passionate about social impact, volunteering, education and just giving children (and adults) a chance at a great future and current happiness. So even if you won’t vote for JA, please vote for another organization, donate your own funds or volunteer your time and services to a worthy NGO around you.
It doesn’t have to be a big deal but It will mean a lot to someone else.
Another thing you should do is if you see the application for the VIMP or Venture in management program again (the one for 2018 is closed), please encourage a youth corper to apply for it. Getting in is super competitive now as more people are applying but pls just apply, write the essays well, follow instructions and just pray.
If you have experienced the VIEMP program or something similar, please share in the comment section below.