Sometimes people wonder whether it’s national service of national “suffering”. I’m sure a lot of you are debating whether national service should be mandatory for graduates or not. My opinion on that topic is a story that we’ll have to leave for another telling. My focus today is one something different.
Fast forward. Engage your imaginations now. So you have graduated. Congratulations. You’ve probably got your certificate already and the national service Secretariat has posted you to Where? Well wherever they have already posted you or not, I am just here to give a few points on how to make your national service stay a memorable one no matter which corner of Ghana you are stationed or which field of work you have been assigned.
When I say memorable I mean positively memorable. I’m sure we all have memories that are unforgettable. And not all of these memories are so pleasing when we flashback. One year is a lot of time. So as fresh graduates, you cannot let it all go waste.
Never think you’re too big for any Job: let me warn you that national service might not turn out be quite what you expected. You may have to run errands for your superiors and those you work with. And perhaps that is all you may do the whole day. Donkey jobs as some people will term should not bring down your spirit. Just purpose in your mind with an unbroken resolve. Do it and do it wholeheartedly. These are mostly, in a manager or director’s point of view, a test of character and temperament. So it doesn’t matter whether someone who is actually supposed to be below you in terms of academic qualification and rank happens to be the one giving instructions. Remember that a situation like that is temporary and is meant to polish you up as a masterpiece.
Build Great Relationships at Work:
Build a good working relationship with your superiors and other colleagues at work. Consider National service as your first job. Whatever happens at your workplace during this time should not be taken for granted. Remember first impressions matter. Considering that you’d spend a year there at your station, one of your first goals is to ensure that you build a great relationship with all your superiors and colleagues and try to maintain it till you leave. Never go throwing your weight about and parading yourself as the new graduate who thinks he or she knows better than everyone else. Instead be humble. There’s a lot you’ve got to learn even if you graduated with a GPA of 3.9. I have seen several people get their first job after national service because of how they served and recommendations that came from either their superiors or colleagues.
Build Great Relationships with Neighbours:
National service may require that you have to move to a new neighbourhood and geographical area. And through this you’ll meet diverse cultures and values. The best you can do is to let your new neighbours feel comfortable approaching you. That way they’ll be ready to assist you or give advice that may come in handy. There are countless stories of NSS people who got adopted by whole communities and never spent a dime on food and accommodation throughout their period of service. You never know, you might getting free lunch.
Take Up A Responsibility:
Every district has a national service association. Try and join any functional group under this association. Chose to be part of activities organised by your association by participating in them. By doing this you are not only building your leadership and social skills, but also creating a great network that you can make good use in the years that will follow.
Getting Posted To A Village Is Not So Bad.
There’s a positive side you are not looking at. Living in a rural area is truly a once in a lifetime experience for some people. After living in urban areas all your life, making such a quick transition to live in less comfortable settings might come too harsh on you. Just make sure you prepare well enough before you report to your new station. A treated mosquito bed net and a power bank might come in handy. But you should relish every single experience. Help the rural folks anyway you can. I’m pretty sure you might get away with a lot of free lunch and supper. The food is usually so cheap in these areas that you may not have to touch your monthly allowance. If you are a guy, be careful the damsels you strike acquaintances with. One of them might be the chief’s only daughter. Don’t go about taking advantage of village girls. Keep your integrity and virtue.
Identify Business Opportunities:
By now you should know that the government does not always follow the timetable of paying national service personnel. Sometimes you don’t get your allowance until after four months. Perhaps the smartest thing you can do is to start a business no matter how small it is? Please don’t make the excuse of No capital. Remember I said “no matter how small”. You can target your colleague national service personnel for the start. Then everyone else at your workplace, your new neighbours and just anyone who comes your way. Before you realise you’ve got something going for you already. Do this with all diligence. Just be careful your little business does not conflict with your job performance. I am sure aside the second source of income, you’d also learn some skills that are invaluable.
Don’t spend all your monthly allowance.
Yes it’s small but save some. I know how small it is and how it is barely enough for anything. For most of you it’s your first source of steady stream of income. That’s the time to start developing the habit of saving if you don’t have it already. Just determine that you’ll put something away every month and when you’re done with the service, Invest that money no matter how small it is into something that you sure will remember for the rest of your life.
So there we have it. National service is not always pleasant experience. But how much of it you enjoy depends on you. See it as what it is. A Service to your nation. If you think something was worth mentioning but I left it out, feel free to let me know in the comments section. And we’ll take it up in latter discussions. Always be patriotic and look on the brighter side. Happy national Service!