Creating a career path of your own as a Nigerian youth.

In recent years, unemployment has become a global issue facing young people. Although many young people earn a university degree, they often struggle to find jobs in their chosen industries. This is why this interview seeks to address the fears of many fresh graduates and job seekers when it comes to job hunting and skills acquisition. Victor Okafor is a communications professional and consultant. He currently works with Companies in The UK, US, Italy, and Nigeria. Victor has experience in public speaking, marketing communications, creative storytelling and community management. Victor Okafor is a lawyer who transitioned into communications and has over the years gained a name for himself in the industry. 

Tell us about yourself. Who is Victor Okafor? 

To be honest, I’m just a young man enjoying his existence here. I happen to be a Nigerian as well. I’ll describe myself as a typical traditional Igbo family man. Creating and telling incredible stories and teaching others to do just the same is what I’m doing with my life. 

Tell us a bit about your career projection. How were you able to break into the communication industry? 

That’s a good question. The industry drew me in. I saw a movie called “Great Debaters” one night and it made such an impression that I wanted to replicate everything I watched. In the movie, Denzel was a public speaking coach for the debating society of the school. I was in 300L at the time in Unilag and I decided to start an Organization that would take law tutorials during the week and then on weekends, I’ll teach them public speaking and storytelling skills for debates. My students were all in 200L, facing their seniors in debates and we held an unbeaten record. That was the start. I loved it with my life 😅. So after a year, I stopped teaching students because I started teaching lawyers, I formed a company. A public speaking consultancy called TLEx. We got clients, and that’s how it started for me. Then, I took relevant courses, got some scholarships and you know, the storytelling industry took my heart. 

What challenges did you face as a job seeker? Are those challenges still relevant today? 

This is a tricky question because I’ve never looked for a job per se. Every time I wanted to do something else, I was already doing something. I can’t remember not having work to do. The companies I work with and work for, 90% of them came for me and not the other way round. But of course, I’ve applied for several jobs and positions where I got rejected! I think the trick with this job hunting thing is to give it your absolute best. You’ll be fine 

Being a person that often interacts with people, what common mistakes would you say they make when building their careers? 

The number one is fear. So as a result of this fear, they don’t push for opportunities. It’s like they tell themselves “me? I don’t deserve this greatness.” Fear has to be the greatest mistake because to be honest, there’s nothing to be afraid of. What’s the absolute worst that would happen if you try and you fail? Answer that question sincerely. 

Unemployment is at an all-time high of about 33.4%, there is little youth can do when there are few opportunities. How can youths create their own pathways to success despite this restraint? 

While I don’t have all the answers to this question, I have a few thoughts that could help. Firstly, ask the right questions. It’s not true that there are no opportunities. Companies say that 70% of their problem lies in talent acquisition. That is, they can’t seem to find solid employees that are actually competent.  So, be out there. Ask questions. Join a community or two. Secondly, in this age and era, there’s really nothing you can’t do with the internet. Start positioning yourself online. Clean up your CV.  Organize your thoughts and put it out on social media as content. Take courses and at least try to be committed to it! Select a niche you love and be consistently focused. Finally, no one knows what they’re doing when they start. Just start something and learn on the job. 

Aside from the usual degrees, what skills do job seekers need now in order for them to be job-ready and future-ready? 

Degrees are great but I think they’re not enough. You definitely need soft skills. That’s for sure. Sharpen your communication skills, there are like a million courses online these days if you want to learn anything. I did a paid Course with Harvard University’s Online School years ago and I can’t tell you how instrumental it has been in my journey. I also got a scholarship to study Brand Communications with Orange Academy and that was one of the best things to have ever happened to my career. Most times, what you’ll need for the job isn’t going to be taught in a university or college. Find out where people get that knowledge and go there. 

Looking back at your personal career progression, what steps can youth take when it comes to getting a job or advancing in your career?? 

To get a job, become ridiculously valuable. Learn as much as you can in your chosen field, have as much practical experience as you can, build genuine professional  relationships with people. While in school I remember before I started TLEx, I attended a conference with Ibukun Awosika. It was paid. I paid N12,500 for it. I was the only student there. That meeting lasted 6 hours. It was so personal. A lot of the things I’m doing in my business can be traced to the impact of that conference. If you want to be your own boss, maybe you should just go out there and learn from experience and try to learn from veterans that have been there before you. That’s what I’m doing. Let’s see how it goes. 

Any last words for those who feel like giving up on their dreams of becoming whoever?

Why do you want to give up? 10 years from now, will the reason be worth it? Don’t stop, keep pushing, keep learning and soon you’ll be at your desired goal.

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