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Message From the Executive Director

amini-kajunju-copySeptember is upon us and it is the back to school period all over the world. In this edition of the newsletter, we have included a back to school wisdom section. Three articles that we hope will give IUGB students and others insights on choosing a major, internships and study tips. For those of us who are decades older than the average college student, we forget that it can be a period of excitement, possibilities as well as confusion and uncertainty. What should I major in? What will I be successful? Will I find a job after school? How long will I depend on my parents for my basic needs? I remember asking myself these questions two decades ago.

With some hindsight, here are three things what I have learned since graduating from college. First, do everything you can to earn experience while you are in school by looking for paid and unpaid work. I was the queen of internships. I looked for them everywhere. I went to Bolivia to build a dispensary (three weeks/unpaid). I traveled to Kenya (six months/unpaid) and work for the coastal development office in Mombasa. I worked for President Carter in Atlanta (six weeks/unpaid). I got paid to work in a photo shop, in an office as a receptionist, in the dormitory’s kitchen and cleaned windows and houses during the summers. By the time, I finished college, I had built a decent resume and was attractive to employers.

Second, although I have been lucky and I have had great bosses, if possible, please remember to choose the boss first and the job second. To put it another way, it is better to work for a bad company with a great boss than a great company with an awful boss. Bosses matter and they can make or break you depending on the kind of person he/she is. A boss can be supportive, tough but fair and even become a mentor. So, when you are interviewing, in addition to evaluating the job, think about if you can work for the person who will be your boss. With time, you will get better at identifying a good match.

Finally, get paid for doing what you love. It is important to be a hard and honest worker whether you like your job or not. Every employer deserves it. It is much easier to work hard and well when you love what you are doing. Then, it does not feel like work. I know this for a fact. When I am working in a job that truly fits my passion, my goals, my talents, I am happy to go to work every day and give it 150%. In the beginning, as you are figuring yourself out, work everywhere you can. Gain the money and the experience. With time, you will find your passion and work will be fun and fulfilling.

From my heart and mind,

Amini Kajunju