• 6 Practical Things Undergrad Students can do during the Lockdown

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By Catherine Nabaloga

The President of Uganda on June 7th 2021 imposed new restrictions in the country for 42 days. Among other measures was the closure of all Schools and Institutions of Higher Learning. Before this happened, our students were preparing for end of Semester exams which were called off due to detected infections amongst students in their different hostels and also some Staff of Makerere University Business School.

Whereas we are all at home trying to keep safe and healthy (excerpt essential workers), it does not mean that the world has come to a complete stand still due to COVID-19. In fact companies are still running their businesses as usual although this is done mostly online. In this article, we will be sharing some practical things you could engage in while waiting for the country to open up again. In this simple guide, we will talk about how you can utilize your smart phone and data to create more value for you.

Learn a New Vocational Skill

Learning does not stop with having a degree. Having a skill is proving to be advantageous in our society regardless of having acquired formal education. Currently, most individuals are earning greatly from their vocational skills. Vocational skills are practical in nature and they include but not limited to: Baking pastries, tailoring, painting, plumbing, cooking, carpentry, gardening among others. These skills have been overlooked but they will help kick start your life as you try to search for a formal job.

Examples of vocational skills. Image : Getty Images

Some people have actually used these skills to become self-employed and earn good money off of their craft. The best places to get these educational materials for free is to search the internet that is to say #Google and #YouTube. YouTube will give you so many videos and tutorials you can watch, download and self teach most of these skills. Whereas some might need a bit of more training and movement, others you can do at home.

Improve your Writing Skills

This falls under your Business Communication Course you have studied at University or are yet to learn. Writing skills will come in handy when you are applying for your internship and your first job application. Did you know that some people have lost out on a good job offer because they could not present a professional Curriculum Vitae, a resume and application letter? Some have ended up in company trash bins. Well it happens and could happen to anyone. Use this time to improve your writing and learn more on how to effectively communicate.

Search for the current formats of these important documents that you will use when applying to the different companies for either internship or a job placement. Here is one example of a blog that can help you with writing your CV (https://zety.com/blog/how-to-write-a-cv).The beauty about the internet is that it has everything you are looking for. You will have an edge over your peers because of your outstanding writing and communication skills.

PS. Remember to ditch the informal language while writing any formal document.

Create a Professional Profile on your social media platforms

Whereas most students use these platforms for entertainment, organizations, companies, and some individuals are using them to promote their products, brands and to make more money. Companies are advertising using common platforms such as #YouTube, #FaceBook, #Instagram, and #Twitter to market businesses and thus increasing their revenues and brand presence. We have influencers on these platforms who are promoting brands and earning money from these collaborations. You can also use your platform to build a personal brand and or sell your products online.

Away from that, some organizations and companies will do a background check on you by visiting your social media platforms. It is important to note that companies want people who have values that are well aligned with their own because they have a name or brand to protect.

We have professional social network platforms such as #LinkedIn created to bring the professional world together. You will find different organizations, companies and professionals on this platform. With LinkedIn, you will find tons of companies that are looking to hire people in different capacities. LinkedIn prompts you to create a profile which includes the University you attended, your soft and hard skills, the occupation you have and the level you are at in your organization among others. Some Individuals on this platform are looking to hire, partner etc while others are looking to be hired. You can create your profile as a student who is open to be hired as an intern or volunteer.

Catch up on that difficult course unit

As soon as the Lockdown is over, you will have to sit for your end of Semester exams. This should be a time where you go to that hard course unit and fully understand it before you are hit with the reality. In your class group, you have students who are good at some course units that give you trouble. Why not utilize this period to befriend them and ask for assistance. Most of you have class #Whatsapp groups to keep you updated on the different class activities. Look for the person’s number who you know is good at a particular course unit or ask in your platform if anyone is willing to be of assistance. Organise an online session with prepared questions that you will ask for better assistance.

You can as well utilize the wide knowledge that the internet presents. Just google the particular topic or a question and you will get all the material you might need for better understanding.

Find a Mentor

A mentor is a person you look up to. This is a person who can support, advise and guide you. You are not too young to find a mentor. In fact this is the best time for you to find someone who will help you grow personally, mentally, emotionally and help you become a better outstanding person in society and life at large. Whereas you may need to cultivate a personal relationship, it might be easier for you to first try and read about them or just start following them online. Mentors can also be virtual individuals. You can follow them online to better understand the kind of persons they are, their values and what you can learn from them. Most of these individuals have social network platforms, have written books and articles about their life experiences, leadership, management, business, entrepreneurship to mention but a few.

They do not need to be the most popular person on earth. We have outstanding individuals in Uganda who can better play this role since they understand our society and it’s dynamics better. I will give a few examples: #Prof. Waswa Balunywa (Management, Leadership and entrepreneurship expert), #Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga (Current 1st Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Former Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament), #Mr. Patrick Bitature, (businessman and entrepreneur), #Dr. Maggie Kigozi (Medical Doctor and Business consultant), #Joshua Cheptegei (2019 world champion in the 10,000m long distance), your favorite Lecturer, Relative and so many more. Follow these individuals to find out what they up to, which workshops they are holding or attending, what webinars they are conducting and so on. You will be equipped with some of the transferable skills such as creativity, leadership, communication, teamwork and so on from these individuals without necessarily meeting them in person.

Learn to organize yourselves

This will basically speak to working together as a team to achieve a goal. Some of you are aware of investment clubs and SACCOs. These groups include individuals who have decided to come together to save and invest as a team for a common goal. Both these groups can have up to a limited number depending on their needs and their constitutions. This could be a great time for you and your friends to start one such kind of a group. You may not have funds right away to save but you could have some ideas that can be funded by different organizations. Currently #Startups are being funded by different organizations which is creating more employment especially for young people. Your idea must be solving a certain problem in society though. Ideas in areas such as #Climate Change, #Renewable Energy, #Fintechs, #Gender Equality among others are highly sought after for financing. You can also search for resources to help you understand what you want to start and all the processes involved. At #MUBS, we have the #MUBS Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Center that nurtures innovations and startups . They will be able to help you with the necessary steps and skills you might require to start and run your startup.

The Catch

Whereas the country is currently in total lock down, it does not mean that everything else is on a stand still. Businesses and individuals are on the move. Most of them have had to adopt working from home and this means mostly online. Use your phones and data to get more value considering that you are now paying a 12% tax on data packages!!. Use this period to acquire new knowledge and skills online.

Do not forget to wear your masks, social distance, sanitize and wash your hands with soap. Do some exercises too and eat healthy. Let us also help our parents and siblings while we are at home.

You can add on this list in the comment section.

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