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Monthly Archives March 2019

What’s next after campus?

Posted on 5 min read

At some point in campus/college, especially during your final months or semesters, you will need to start planning for life after school. It is a joy to finish and look forward to graduation, but there are also many moving parts involved that can rob you the joy of completing your studies. As you anticipate a life without assignments, cats and exams set by the devil himself, you also realize that it will be a life without HELB and possibly the close social gatherings you have enjoyed. By the way, HELB will still be there, but this time round like Santa Claus turned terrorist, asking you to repay your loan. Blessed is the one without HELB, for they will not be haunted! Sorry, I digressed.

3 things you can do to secure a job

What’s next after campus? I faced this question almost six years ago, and with so many uncertainties, I had to decide what to do next and how to shape my life at least in the short term. What makes this a major decision in life is that a lot of things change, and your life will be altered significantly from how you have lived in the last 20 years. Some of the major changes to expect include:

  • Increased cost of living, in terms of housing, food, travel etc.
  • Decreased support from the people you depended on.
  • Increased expectations from people.
  • Finding a job in a jobless economy.
  • Transition to a different town/location, new community and friends, or new church.
  • Another 300 challenges which I have no space to mention

One of these challenges is finding a job, and I would want to talk about it in the hope that I will help someone make the right decision. While in school, we work hard in the hope that we will land a good job, and possibly occupy the corner office. Even those who do not venture into employment hope to be successful as entrepreneurs. How can we make this a reality?

The reality of job environment today

Once upon a time there was a thing called a job. You had the same one for your entire life, and then you retired, and got something called a pension.

Things have changed.

Today, your career is probably going to take a lot of twists and turns. You’ll work, change jobs, tarmac, get a side hustle and a main hustle, become an employer, an employee, consultant… etc. With the exception of a few people whose career path will look like the straight path shown below, most of the people will have a twisted, convoluted and mixed up career path as shown

With this in mind, how can one ensure that their career kicks of well? Jobs need experience, and experience needs jobs. This cyclic loop can keep you jobless forever. Some people are also not sure which job they want to do, and others are keen on changing their careers completely. The other problem comes when you send hundreds of CVs, and receive neither response nor regret. Other times you attend so many interviews that you start doubting your purpose in life because some do not even bother to send a regret. With such challenges, here are three considerations that will help you get relevant experience land the job of your choice in the long run.

Getting experience

Internships

Internships are loved and hated at the same time, majorly because you can easily get yourself one, and also because most of them do not pay. However, internships are one of the best way to gain some experience in a specific field.

Internships give real time experience and exposure, and work best if you are targeting to intern in small organizations as opposed to big corporates. This is because in small firms, you are likely to be given more duties and responsibilities, as opposed to big corporates. In our start-up, an intern will get more experience and exposure in three months as a system administrator than they can get if they worked in the big Kenyan companies for one year. This is because we give you as much work as we give a senior system administrator, and you will have the guidance of the senior admin seated next to you all the time.

For networks, you are likely to get an internship through referral, because many times these opportunities may not be advertised. If you know someone in an organization or business that is doing what you want to do, consider asking them to consider. Consider also cold applications to any firm you know, and also look out for advertisements.

Job shadowing

Job shadowing refers to finding someone doing what you want to do, and then spending time with them in their actual working environment to see and learn from what they do. The objective is to see a mechanic, tailor or software engineer at work, so that you can decide whether that is what you can gauge your interest and capacity in that field. You may consider spending one hour with them every day, or even a whole week.

Job shadowing works well with networks, and can be very useful of you are not decided on a career. One person loves art and painting, but after spending a day with a painter, he was convinced that it is one of the most boring things in life. That made him change their mind on becoming a paint artist. A day with a lecturer can help you know the joy and struggles of setting exams, marking, preparing for next lesson and doing your PhD studies at the same time.

Volunteer Work

You can opt to spend time doing volunteer work in an organization of your choice. This

Conclusion

Whatever happens after campus, never stay idle. Find somewhere to make yourself useful, and whatever you do, do it with all your might, as unto God. Remember the example of David in the Bible, who had done his work excellently, and that helped him pass his first interview. Which interview? When he went to Saul to tell him that he could actually eliminate Goliath, Saul asked almost asked him what on earth he had been smoking, to think that he could eliminate a seasoned fighter. David replied:

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

1 Samuel 17:34-37 NIV

His faithfulness as a shepherd prepared him for his greatest battle. Be faithful as you work, look for jobs, do internships, and even tarmac.

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An Unreasonable Action

Posted on 2 min read

The story is told of a truck driver who often visited brothels while on the road. This was a common practice for some truck drivers who spent many days on the road; away from family, friends, accountability and any form of restrain.

On one occasion, a colleague shared with him the details of his favourite brothel, and even gave him the name of the person he should request while there. This was a welcome suggestion; an opportunity to experience a different service, and he gladly made his way to the brothel. He asked for the name that he had given, and was told that he would have to wait because the said prostitute was meeting another client. He patiently waited for an hour, and finally his time came to meet the recommended person.

To his shock and disgust, he entered the room to find his wife. He was devastated. Unknown to him, his wife had been making a living through prostitution while he was on the road. In the rage that ensued, he killed her!

How incredulous! This man was completely at peace with his wayward ways, yet he could not stand to see the favor returned. Many of us live this kind of lifestyle. We do not want to see the bad things we do being done by others. We do the same things that we detest when done by others. And we are not the first ones to do so, as shown in the scripture below:

Romans 2:21-22
…you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

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The Man who Continued Fighting for 29 Years after World War II Ended

Posted on 2 min read

If you underestimate what loyalty, pride, determination, and commitment can produce in a man, you need to hear the story of Hiroo Onado.

On 2nd September 1945, the World War II officially ended when Japan formally surrendered to the allied forces. Germany and Italy had already surrendered, and thus Japan’s surrender meant end of atrocities after 2194 days of hostility, deaths and bombings. However, this was not to be. Several pockets of isolated fighters continued fighting, an in one such team was a man by the name Hiroo Onoda.

Hiroo Onoda was a soldier in the Imperial Japanese Army who was stationed in the Lubag Island in the Philippines. He had been trained in the field of guerrilla warfare, sabotage, counterintelligence, and propaganda, and so when his team was overpowered by American forces, he retreated to the woods and kept fighting. His aim was to keep the allied forces busy and occupied, so that they would take longer to invade Japan. Hiroo did his duty diligently, where he would launch guerrilla attacks on the Filipino police and villages. Unfortunately, the war ended but Hiroo never got to know about it. In his thinking, he knew that Japan would never surrender until the last man was dead. His mission was to defend Japan unto death.

For 29 years, authorities tried various methods to make him surrender. They dropped leaflets in the woods announcing that Japan had surrendered and all soldiers should drop arms and surrender. Hiroo was unmoved; he thought that to be a propaganda tactic to make him surrender. They dropped photos and letters from his family asking him to come home, but Hiroo would have none of it. He continued hiding and attacking villages and civilians until the last day when something made him surrender.

When Japan realized that their man would never back down, they located his commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, who went to Philippines to give him an order to lay down his arms. With that, Hiroo emerged from the woods with his service rifle and sword still in excellent shape. He was appalled that Japan had actually surrendered 29 years earlier, and was welcomed to a new reality. Hiroo died later at the age of 91.

What can an army of 300 Hiroos accomplish?

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Miracles and Ghosts

Posted on 2 min read

Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe in ghosts? You would want to imagine that seeing one would make you decide if they exist or not. Unfortunately, that may not be so. This excerpt from a book I am reading puts it into perspective. Read below:

In all my life I have met only one person who claims to have seen a ghost. And the interesting thing about the story is that the person disbelieved in the immortal soul before she saw the ghost and still disbelieves after seeing it. She says that what she saw must have been an illusion or a trick of the nerves. And obviously she may be right. Seeing is not believing.
For this reason, the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience. Every event which might claim to be a miracle is, in the last resort, something presented to our senses, something seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. And our senses not infallible. If anything extra ordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that we have been the victims of an illusion. If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say. What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.

Miracles, By C.S Lewis

Consequently, even if you witnessed someone being raised from death, you would most likely belief that he was not fully dead. If you witnessed someone being healed of a deadly disease, you would likely add that to the statistics of people who survive terminal illnesses. If you want to explore the philosophical question of the existence or validity of Miracles, read this book Miracles by CS Lewis.

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Smartphone: The Trojan horse in your pocket

Posted on 3 min read

When the digital mobile phone was invented in the 90s, it was a giant reap for mankind. We had managed to jack out the cable from the telephone shown below, and also add a new exciting feature called a Short Message Service (SMS), as well as a convenient feature called a phone-book.

The phonebook meant that we got to know who is calling without having them introduce themselves, and we could easily avoid picking calls from our debtors. The benefits of this technology cannot fully be measured, and maybe only the former landline service providers know what the mobile phone did. Imagine the dates that were cancelled because someone called while you were in the shower, or job interviews missed because the HR could not reach you using the nearest telephone booth? The mobile phone stands as the greatest invention since the flush toilet.

Over the 30 years of its existence, the mobile phone underwent some evolution. Initially it was big and heavy, then every manufacturer was in the race to get a smaller phone. When they had gotten so small and sleek, touch screens came around, and there was a need to get a bigger screen, and so the size started to grow again. Of course, other additional features influenced this trend. This includes better and more powerful processors, 3G and 4G networks, and better operating systems. Apps landed in their millions, and the data transfer speeds increased. Mobile phones became mini computers, and gave birth to smartphone and tablets. It is said that the average smartphone today has more processing power than the computers that were used to land man on the moon some 5 decades ago. The mobile phone has really grown.

And herein lies the problem. While we thought we had put a mobile calling device in our pockets, we ended up with powerful computing devices in our pockets. These devices can do so many things, which would shock people who lived in the 90s.

Thus, we can now access our offices away from work. We can answer emails any time. We can read the latest people magazine article as soon as it is published. We can keep up with hundreds of friends and fake friends all over the globe. We can follow proceedings of war in Yemen, a musician from Korea, and Donald Trump theatrics from the US. We can publish videos and websites that can be accessed from all over the world within minutes, and we have access to millions of books, games, and apps. We need the smartphone to find directions, to book and remember our appointments, to apply for jobs and source for talents, and even to study online. The small window that is our smartphone opens into a world of endless opportunities.

This has brought about challenges like information overload, privacy concerns, problem of being always connected and lack of separation of work and rest. We have no time to reflect and meditate. We follow strangers on social media, but do not know our neighbors. We have enough time for social media, but not time to read the good books. We play games with strangers millions of miles away, but have no time to play with our children. Many times we call everybody except the people that we need to talk to, and end up feeling guilty. We seem so full of life, while inside we are void of anything. We are fixated on superstars far away, and forget every day heroes on our doorsteps. We download cool wallpapers, but forget to notice flowers growing in our yards.

Like the famous horse that led to the all of heavily fortified city of Troy, the smartphone can easily bring us down. We need salvation from our smartphones.

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Human factor: The weak link in technology use in Kenyan Census

Posted on 4 min read

The 2019 Kenya population and housing census is coming in a few months, and the government has been in the preparation mode for the several years. One of the preparation steps has been acquisition of over 164,700 devices that will be used, as the census is said to be heavily depended on technology. The technology is expected to facilitate rapid transmission of data from the field to the central database, thus faster processing and release of census data. Kenya has always turned to technology to help streamline voting process and prevent cases of rigging, with Kenya’s elections being one of the most expensive in the world. However, that has not always turned to be effective, with cases of technology failure and incorrect use of technology due to insufficient skills being common.

What is at stake?

The census takes three stages; preparatory stage, actual enumeration, and the post enumeration stage. Of these, the actual enumeration is the one that involves many people, with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics planning to employ 164,000 people for the job, and the whole exercise costing KES 18.5 billion (USD 185 million). The objective is to deliver credible results which have been elusive in the past. Population numbers are used in revenue allocation and demarcation of electoral boundaries, a factor that could promote inflation of numbers to suit political interests. In the last census, there were allegations of exaggeration of numbers with one province recording a 178% growth in population within ten years.

Challenge

As it happens with elections, majority of the short term contractors who are tasked with carrying out the process are usually teachers, and jobless youths. Teachers are distributed throughout the country, hence making it easy to reach even the remotest corners. As for jobless youths, they are everywhere in the country. Some are in temporary, low wage jobs, and a short term contract with the government that pays about KES 3000 (30 USD) per day is a good economic boost.

Most of these people may not have proficiency using computers, although they are computer literate. It takes more than learning how to use a computer to be a good user. Even new phones give us trouble in the first days, until we get used to them. Only a regular user of a device or a gadget can be proficient in using it. In this case, the devices that are to be used for the census will only be introduced to the enumerators a few days to the census, and they receive very little training before being declared fit to conduct the census. By the time the material day comes, some have forgotten the basics.

I have seen this happen several times. In the 2003 general elections, each polling station was equipped with a laptop and a fingerprint reader, which was meant to be the main mode of identification. During the training, polling clerks spent about 10 minutes each learning how to start the computer and identify a user, without being given a chance to do it individually as there was no database available to test. Come the election day, many had forgotten how to do it, and even the experienced presiding officers were at loss. The laptops were provided with two batteries which supposed to last for 12 hours, but these were ordinary laptop batteries which could do utmost 3.5 hours. In my station, the second battery was delivered without power, yet the polling station did not have electricity.

In the 2017 elections, I attended the training for the presiding officers, and while a lot of effort was put into training these people who would go and train the polling clerks, it was less than satisfactory. A good number of trainees were clearly not interested in the training, and were only there to receive their allowances. Some of them also showed up on the second day of the training, missing 50% of the training. I can safely assume that the polling clerks who were trained by these presiding officers got a raw deal. These went ahead to conduct the elections leading to delays in identifications, and the eventual collapse of the Electronic Voter Identification (EVID) and the Result Transmission and Presentation System (RTS).

In the upcoming Census, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics is banking on hand held electronic devices to record data. How successful this exercise will be I am not sure, especially if there is not manual back up. If the past experiences are anything to go by, we could have a crisis of enumerators who are poorly trained, hence unable to use the provided equipment properly. This would result in inconsistencies in the census results.

Possible Solution

The most urgent step is to ensure that the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has competent staff to conduct the census. This will involve thorough training, and ensuring that the every staff or enumerator has a good understanding of what is involved, and they have enough time to master the gadgets that will be used.

Adoption of eLearning platform can help develop skills and competence among the enumerators. This would best work by providing an eLearning platform with the relevant information needed for the job to anyone who wants to interview for the job, hence make them study in advance, and use the interview to gauge competence. This can then be supplemented with intensive training, using highly competent trainers and gauging the skills of the trainees afterwards. Therefore, I propose the development of enumerators training platform as early as now, so that the next five months will be used to train potential staff. Kenya needs to better the human resource factor in order have a successful census.

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