Career, Career Ownership, Job market, Mentorship, University graduates, Youth

ALX CEO Fred Swaniker on Career Ownership

2035 is fast approaching, by then research suggests that Africa will have the world’s largest workforce, larger than China and India. There are 5772 days left to be precise. At ALX, the pressure is real, with only 46 days left to the end of the program. Young leaders in the Launchpad program are applying for jobs, attending interviews and undertaking intense career ownership sessions. In a world of instant gratification, the reality of adulting can be daunting but Dr Fred Swaniker the CEO of African Leadership Group shed more light on the job search during a Launchpad Career Session at the ALX space.


Value alignment

Do your values match those of your potential employer? This is a question that we need to ask ourselves even as we try to find the ‘perfect’ company, NGO, people, and culture to work in. An anti-capitalism, pro-green young leader may not have their values aligned with a for-profit factory, with disregard for the environment, for example. The job will frustrate you and it will negatively affect your performance. There is need to establish synergy between the person and the job that assigned to them, in order to find peace and to be content.

Willingness to learn

It is proven fact that humans learn best by doing, the same applies to work. We get better by doing. This means that the education systems and peer contribution only make 30% of what we know. Employers do not expect expertise from recent graduates, they want someone confident enough to take up the job and do it exceptionally. Experts are not made in college.


In the words of Fred Swaniker, “ You are not going to be CEO tomorrow.” Getting to the top is a process and it is sad that Millennials exist in a world that teaches them to demand greatness when they haven’t earned it. Employers respect people who understand the process, people who take their career journeys with a certain level of grace. In addition to this, employers are in the business of creating high performing teams. No one wants to add someone with misplaced pride to their team, remember, you are as strong as the weakest link in your team.



See it as a learning opportunity

Be patient at your first job. It may not be your ideal position, but it is your shot at growth through learning on the job.

Build your brand

Your track record is ‘gold’ when starting out. Give people enough confidence to put their name on the line for you by delivering in terms of character and tasks assigned at your place of work.

Build a network

‘Your network is your net worth.’ Surround yourself with people who invest in you and vice versa. During your first job, get to know your co-workers beyond the surface, people often have layers that can be extremely valuable.

Your first job is unlikely to be your last job, so treat this stepping stone with respect. Build a firm foundation and remember that young people are not a scarce commodity on this continent, there is always someone smart searching for a place to launch their career.

2 Comment(s)

  1. Anne Mathenge

    I wanna be part of the next ALX programme .

    March 25, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  2. IbukunOluwa Shotubo

    Very True.

    The first 3 points makes lots of sense.
    I’ll do well to not forget these.
    Thanks for sharing.

    March 27, 2019 at 2:04 pm | Reply

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