While people across the world basked in the mushy atmosphere of the 2022 Valentine’s Day, Nigerian undergraduates had a sour experience as the Academic Staff Union of Universities [ASUU] declared a one-month warning strike.
Are you part of the affected undergraduates? Here are ways you can make lemonades out of the lemons ASUU served you:
1. Learn a new skill
In his book, The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything…Fast, Josh Kaufman said you can acquire most skills if you practice deliberately for 20 hours. This means you have to practice for 45 minutes every day during the next one month to get better at your chosen skill.
To achieve that daily 45 minutes of deliberate practice,
- Dedicate yourself to doing nothing but learning for 45 minutes straight, or leverage the Pomodoro Technique, that is, work 25 minutes and rest for 5.
- Deconstruct your desired skills into manageable bits. For example, you can divide coding into different topics and tasks, with the essentials coming first before moving to the complex parts.
- Don’t just learn the theory; practice what you’ve learned too. For instance, if you’re learning marketing, try running a free campaign for a friend’s business.
These tips will prove useful to undergrads like Christopher, a 300-level student of Biology Education at the University of Lagos, who said:
“I plan to improve my writing skills this break. I intend to achieve this by working on writing projects and taking online courses. I’m already helping a friend with crypto-related articles and taking a HubSpot course on Social Media Marketing.”
2. Start a business or expand your existing one
This break is probably the best time to execute that business idea you’ve always had. To be clear, I’m not saying you should build a tech startup. There are several non-tech ideas you can try as a student.
Unsure about how to execute them? Follow these steps:
- Educate yourself on how to run a business as a student. Don’t take a dive when you’ve not learned to swim.
- Identify a problem and figure out a solution. While doing this, don’t feel sad if your idea is incapable of changing the world. Understand that successful entrepreneurs are those who solve a problem at a price higher than it costs them to operate. So you don’t have to be the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk.
- Research market trends, competitors and target customers’ habits. Since the core purpose of your business is to solve customers’ problems, you need to understand your customers in-depth.
And so, speak to your prospects and try to understand their aspirations, philosophical beliefs and obstacles. Study your competitors, too. What are they doing right? And how can you be better?
- Before you get started, ask yourself, “How do I want to fund my business?” Crowdfunding, loans and angel investments are good places to start. And if you’re building a tech business, you can consider VC funding.
- You cannot run a business solely on your own. You need a support network of like-minded people and mentors. Spend the next few weeks creating one.
Not every student wants to start a new business, some just want to grow their existing ones during this break. Abimbola, a 400 level law student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, is one of such students. Explaining how she intends to expand her business, she said:
“I want to increase the awareness of my shoe business during this break. This is why I’m learning Digital Marketing and trying to raise some funds. I hope to leverage PR and marketing via WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook-—these are my customers’ favourite social channels.”
3. Try interning
Almost every company requires you to have work experience before they hire you. Sadly, this is harmful to graduates who did nothing but study while in school. You can avoid being one of such unlucky graduates by interning this period.
Reach out to as many companies as you can, telling them why you want to intern and the value you hope to add to their organisation. Hopefully, one of them will be willing to let you intern, even if it’s just for two weeks.
4. Enjoy your creative hobbies
It’s okay if you’re too exhausted to try out any of the suggestions above. We get it. You are well within your rights to give capitalism the middle finger and enjoy the gift of free time.
Make time for those hobbies you haven’t done in a while. Play with Lego, knit, play an instrument, swim, try photography, sing, play chess, anything. Whatever you do, ensure you enjoy yourself and stimulate your creativity.