Knowledge and Skill sets; great aides in today’s marketplace

By Umu Jalo       

I recently graduated from my undergraduate studies after a 13-year break between my first and second year, and my third and fourth year. It was a beautiful Saturday morning this past October and I was grinning like a Cheshire cat all through the graduation ceremony. Finally, I was given the powers to actually read, without having to skirt around whenever I was asked about the status of my degree by some HR officer somewhere behind a desk in the course of the thirteen years I was away. I have some employment opportunities pass in the past because of the lack of that degree certificate, despite me having the skillset required for the position. The reason for the break is a story for another time, but the skills I acquired during the break are priceless and are what help me in overcoming marketplace challenges today.

See, we only get formal education to understand the why behind everything, despite our different areas of focus. The how to apply this acquired knowledge is aided by the unique skill sets each of us has. Through this, we can do whatever it is we set out to do with our own flair and signature on it. Think of all the successful people in their field that you know of, not one of them started out perfect. They have had to pick up, hone and polish themselves until they become the best in their field. Vusi Thembekwayo comes to mind when I think of skill sets that have been well packaged into the powerhouse that he is.

Unfortunately, the how to apply the knowledge we have acquired through formal education is seldom taught in a class setting, and that is where it gets tough, the rubber meets the road so to speak. Trying out different things helps you find what is best suited for you, just like how you’d try different shoes at a shoe store until you find the one that fits well, then you can walk out, on your merry way to bliss.

I tried out different things to do in an effort to find my niche in the marketplace and boy did I do a lot! From being a trained and certified decorative painter to being an event planner, I was a Jane of all trades, master of some. I finally settled on communications, it came naturally and I really got a kick at it, I still do. With communications I feel that I can be skilled enough to make a greater impact in my future endeavors.

I would say I have found my Ikigai, but I am still growing and evolving. This means that what works today may not necessarily work for me in a few years’ time, which will also be perfectly fine. I will enjoy the ebb and flow of my professional life as it comes. In the meantime, my aim is to keep repackaging my skills set and adapting to the marketplace, to remain relevant in todays every evolving space in communications.

My challenge to you dear reader, at whatever age you are at, is to try out new and different things from what you currently do. Recent graduates, don’t be in a rush to lock down on set careers first, explore what is out there for you and find what you can enjoy doing while earning a living. For those who have been in the marketplace for a while, upskill and get moving, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. If you do not like where you are, move, you are not a tree! I do it all the time and it adds zest to life!




Umu is a daughter of Africa, with roots from both the east and west of the continent, namely Mali and Kenya. She thrives in communications and is both a graduate student at the United States International University – Africa and an entrepreneur, specialising in the provision of language services in Africa. She is passionate about young women empowerment especially in the entrepreneurship spaces and is often a leader in such spaces. She believes that despite all our differences in religion and the faiths that we all practice, deep down we are all one and all are a reflection of our creator.