Career Guidance Series

Career Guidance pt. 2

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I promised I would make a follow-up and here it is!

Today we will be talking about (more of I will be talking and you will be listening) high school career guidance.

It was a regular day. It wasn’t too hot, and it wasn’t too cold. I was dropped off at school and I was alone. I had no idea who had been accepted from the guys who I went to primary school with and I had no idea how the day was going to go. A few familiar faces showed up and after an hour or so of waiting, we went into the hall for assembly. The choir at my school was just amazing. It was led by a big, confident lady who one could clearly see that she had a passion for music. They sang a few songs and I was just blown away. After that, we Form Ones stayed behind as the teachers allocated classes for us. There were four classes available – North, South, East and West. I was given two classes (by mistake) – Form 1 North and Form 1 West. Most of my old mates were in Form One North and I decided to choose that class. Besides, people bastardized the words West and Worst so bad that they actually ended up sounding the same. Who would want to be in the Worst Form? Not me! We were then asked to choose practical subjects. I only wanted computers and was horribly disappointed to realize that they were not an option at this stage. There were four options that we could choose from – Fashion & Fabrics, Food and Nutrition, Building and Woodwork.

Which subject would you have chosen? I chose Fashion and Fabrics. I couldn’t believe it but I actually chose this. I believed that Fashion and Fabrics was for girls (Feminists...i’m not being sexist. That’s what I thought). I have always wanted to become a chef and wanted to do Food and Nutrition. It would have been a good idea to choose it because my sister excelled at that subject and I would have had a wealth of tests and past exam papers. I couldn’t join it. There were only 2 boys and back then I was rather frightened of girls so I chose to let this lifelong dream get put on hold. Building sounded like a very unattractive option and woodwork sounded dangerous. So why did I choose Fashion and Fabrics? It’s because of a guy called Brian. Brian was one of the guys from my primary school who could make you eat rocks, swim in sulphuric acid and drink poison. His speech & convincing skills were THAT good. He convinced all the guys to join Fashion & Fabrics and most of us – except for one or two decided to enrol for this class. We joined it and had a good time – life is full of surprises. And yes. I can sew.

This is how most people choose degrees, academic combinations to pursue at ‘A’ level and that’s how people generally approach life. We were supposed to have a tall, slim lady with a frightening cat who would tell us about the classes present. She was supposed to tell us that there was no difference between Form One North, South, East and West. She was supposed to tell us the differences between the 4 practical subjects, listing the Pros and Cons of each. There were supposed to be pamphlets with all this information, or even a detailed booklet. We must have had an opportunity to talk to this lady and hear more about the subjects. None of that happened.

The three things that we used to choose our subjects were:

  1. Our friend’s opinions. BRIAN’s opinion won us all.

  2. Our biased perceptions of the various subjects.

  3. Our fears. I wasn’t the only one who wanted Food & Nutrition but we were too scared to go because there were a lot of girls.

  4. The name of the subjects.

High school is a very important aspect of our lives. This is because that is when you start to make life changing decisions. The two main life changing decisions made are: the results you get from the examinations you write as well as the combination you choose at ‘A’ level. Get ready for a long read (if you thought this was the end you’re wrong. We’re just getting started!).

Pre-High school

When you are still in primary school, the main things you need to do are to:

  • Ace your end of primary school exams

  • Be curious

  • Learn to be confident

Form 1 – 2

The main thing here is to work hard at all the subjects you are given. The purpose of Form 1 & 2 is to learn everything. Important stuff as well as useless stuff. My advice is for you to listen in your maths lessons. Most people get duped later in life because they are too lazy to do their own calculations, among many other reasons.

Start to identify the subjects you naturally excel at. Also identify the subjects you do not excel at. Create a system which allows you to focus on both your strengths and weaknesses. You do not want to put too much effort into your good subjects, and you do not want to put too little effort into your good subjects. It is like trying to get away with spending the day without bathing. Put too much deodorant and forget to wash your face and you will fail to fool your parents and you will get to bath. If you make the right combination of deodorant and washing your face (dry bath), then you may be able to get away with it.

Bonus tip: Comb your hair.

Form 3-4

This is where things get a bit different. The results from form 1 and 2 will show which subjects you excel in and which subjects you are very weak in. This will show you which subjects need extra effort and which subjects do not need that much effort. You need to focus on getting good grades and having a good circle of friends.

Bonus Tip: Buy a Redspot for each subject you’re doing. This applies to countries that use the Cambridge Syllabus.

Advanced Level

This is where people get things wrong. A lot of people choose subjects in the same manner that I chose Fashion & Fabrics. You need to choose something that:

  • You are naturally good at

  • You are passionate about (stuff that you don’t mind reading if there isn’t an angry teacher forcing you to read)

  • Allows you to get a good degree that will get you a job. First research on the exact job you want and then see the requirements. For example, if you want to be a mining engineer, MPC is a good combination. A combination like Biology, French and Music will not be of much use. If you want to do arts, a combination like Divinity, History and Literature usually gives you tons of options later on. A combination like Geography, Literature and Music may not serve you very well.

  • It will be an excellent idea to download the prospectuses from various universities and see which combinations they need for you to get enrolled for a degree. That will give you a rough idea of which combinations to avoid. It is pointless to do a combination that will make it hard to get an undergraduate position at a university. An example is: I love this one because I learnt there and obviously have a bias of some sort and also because it is well made. It shows the degree program and corresponding careers. Whoever made that needs a raise!

My philosophy is that you go to school to get enough knowledge to land you a job. Schools don’t foster learning anymore. It is all about memorization. Memorize stuff that will eventually get you a job. [Yes I am bashing 20 and 25 + pointers. Just do 3 subjects at ‘A’ level. You need to be a well rounded individual and if you study 4 subjects or more, that is quite hard...anyway that’s a topic for another day]. After you get a job, you raise capital and start your side hustles. When they start to gain enough traction for you to do them full time, you leave. If you do not manage to get a job, then don’t worry, keep reading. I have an answer that does not involve robbing a bank. Hint: It’s called freelancing.

Bonus Tips:

  • Stay away from Clubs. In my opinion, they do not offer meaningful opportunities. As I said, that’s my opinion. I could be wrong.

  • Avoid being super dedicated to sports. You need to exercise. Join a sport, but don’t be the guy who is always present when the bus leaves for a sports competition unless if you want to pursue a professional career in sports.

  • Stay away from Relationships (especially with other high schoolers). They will be a useless waste of time. If you are for long term relationships, then this isn’t usually the right time. I’m yet to see a set of high school sweethearts who got married. If you think you will get married and live happily after, make sure that none of you go to University.

  • Have an incredibly good support system.

  • Have good friends. Try to go after the intelligent guys (remember intelligence is measured by one’s ability to think and not by one’s ability to memorize and get straight As).

  • Do your homework.

After school, it is time to focus on your passion. Remember that seedling we mentioned in the previous post? It is time for it to become a tree.

Bonus Tip: You don’t have to wait until you finish high school to start to know more about your future career.

I mentioned in the previous post that there are a wide variety of careers available. After high school you have a few months available before you start university. This is time for you to start to know more about your future career.

Freelancing: Overview

This is the modern way of getting a monetary remuneration for the value that you deliver to others. This is just a fancy way of saying this is the new and cool way of getting paid for doing stuff that other people find useful. There are a few ways you can create value: trade your time, deliver a product/service – this could be an informational product (like this blog or a book) a traditional service e.g. plumbing or a consultancy service. The other method of creating value is entertainment.

Freelance type: Trading time

There are things called virtual assistants. You see, the more money you get, the less time you have to do things of relatively low value. That’s where you come in. Since you don’t have a lot of money, you trade your time to do random tasks. This could be data entry, dashing to the local grocery store to buy stuff for people or standing in a queue for someone (that really happens).

How Do I Become a Time-Trading Freelancer?

Know how much time it takes to make the make material. If you are into data entry, know how many words you can type per hour. Know how many excel documents you can work on per hour. Know how much time it takes you to fill in surveys or do the random tasks. That will help you in knowing how much to charge per hour(research on how to get to this figure),

Freelance type: Delivering a product or service

This is where you deliver a product that someone finds valuable. You could create a book about the number of high schools in Africa and the data such as age, sex and median income of the students’ parents and sell it to people who want this treasure trove of data. You could create Wordpress Websites (this is so easy. No coding at all. Just drag and drop stuff! You must get into this ASAP), you can sign up to freelance websites such as Fiverr, guru, upwork to deliver your services such as web design, drawing, writing a certain number of words per day, research, or even just standing and looking pretty and holding a big white sheet written random stuff that a customer asks you to write (yes. Some people make money by doing that on Fiverr).

How Do I Do This?

Well, you head over to a freelance website. Create a profile. I won’t tell you how to do that. That is what Google and YouTube are there for.

Try a gig. Wait patiently. You can get your first order after a few moons. Once you finally get your first positive rating, things will speed up.

Also use old school methods. Cold emailing if you offer services such as freelance website design or a service that the prospective customer may find useful.

Freelance type: Entrepreneurship

I know nothing about this. Take Steve out for coffee when he is free and he will share his wisdom with you.Visit to find out more about this entrepreneur.

Bonus tip: If you want to be an entrepreneur buy a lot of crying tissues. The returns are awesome though if you are consistent and do not give up.

Freelance type: Entertainment

How many cat videos have you watched? How about videos about Banana Phones and Kim Kardashian? You probably watched one of the above on YouTube. Why? Because you wanted to get entertained. Do people say what you say is silly? Great! Monetize that silliness.

How Do I Become an Entertainer-Freelancer?

Select your medium. Instagram? YouTube? Twitter?

If it is twitter, then head over to Instagram and entertain people (and make money through ads and promotions). If it is twitter, make that bird explode on Twitter (and make money through ads, promotions and affiliate links). If it is YouTube, make people laugh their lungs out and get to the 4000views, 1000subscriber threshold to enable monetisation $$$.

Before you go crazy, do research. Find out your monetization options (affiliate links? Adsense? Others?) and get somebody to talk to you who has a wealth of experience. Just get in touch with a successful entertainter-freelancer and make sure you do your homework before interviewing them. I remember seeing an interview that went something like this:

So Mr John Silver... what is your name?”

That is how your interviewee feels each time you ask questions that you would have had answers do had you done your research about him so please DO YOUR HOMEWORK before interviewing people.

Traditional Careers

These are the traditional careers that you are used to. I only realized that there are so many things to do after graduation (from university). Find out all the jobs available in your niche.


Teacher, Editor, Lawyer, Lecturer, Copywriter, Human Resources Officer and more.


Accountant, Financial analyst, Procurement Officer, Lecturer, Teacher, Consultants and more.


Engineer – Control & Instrumentation, Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, Hardware, Software

Chemist, Electrician, Plumber, Technician, Safety Inspector, Sound Engineer, Project Manager and more.

New and super funky careers

Times are changing. You do not want to spend years focusing on a career that is outdated. The new and funky careers include, but are not restricted to the following:

Cloud Engineer & Cloud Architects (Google Cloud, Amazon Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Cloud). 

How Do I Become one?

Scholarships are available. I was fortunate to be selected for the Google African Developers Scholarship, 2020 and through it, I managed to learn a lot about the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). I believe this scholarship is available every year so do check for it next year. The IBM cloud is another good starting point.

Data Analyst – data is the new oil. These people go through tons of data and get valuable insights from this data. These use Excel, data visualisation tools such as Tableau as well as machine learning packages such as tensorflow.

How do I become one?

Well, LinkedIn Learning is a good place to get such courses. I managed to get in while they offered free access due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can also Google for free udemy courses and this may help you out a bit. Also follow the tips for getting on the Machine Learning Engineer pathway.

Machine Learning Engineer – these use machine learning to make processes more efficient. These could be manufacturing processes, production processes, enhancing security at a border post. These use machine learning algorithms such as tensorflow, python packages such as pandas and numpy.

How do I become one?

Well, you need to do a lot of research. You will need to understand the basics of programming, get ready to do a bit of statistics (it’s not hard) and dedicate a few months learning how this all works. I follow on twitter. He regularly posts free courses available on his timeline and he’s been posting free machine learning courses for quite a while.

You can also go to the IBM cloud website. They have tons of free courses that will help you get up to speed!

Also follow this site called Zindi. This is a platform where hackathons are hosted and people compete to win prizes worth upto 3000 USD. Yes. You heard that right. You could find yourself a good mentor there.

Social Media Manager – Who manages Unicef’s instagram handles? What about Delta Bevarages? Coca Cola? That is what a social media manager does. They do all sorts of fun stuff such as creating campaigns.

How do I do so?

Go online, search for “Google Garage” and do the “Fundamentals of digital marketing” You will learn so much from this course such as a quick intro to how search engines work, how online campaigns are made and the best practises from Google for digital marketing. It will be your first step to discovering how digital marketing works. After that, head over to YouTube and find tutorials on the digital marketing channel of your choice. If you like Instagram then dig deep! If it is Twitter then dig deep! The list goes on...

Online Course Creator – Udemy is the perfect example of this. You find information that people see to be valuable, you create content around such topics and you then sell the course for a few dollars – $9 is a very modest figure.

How do I do so?

Go online. Learn how to make videos. Find a suitable video editing tool. I am currently using the free video editing tool, kdenlive for my video editing tasks. Head over to TJFree on YouTube and learn from him.

Please do consider all these before even thinking about going to university. In life what matters is going in the right direction not speed. I have had two people who I know who ended up doing different things at university level after realizing that their A level combinations were bad. An even greater number regret wasting 4 years after realizing that the market doesn’t value their degrees as much as they expected.

Well that's all folks. I hope you enjoyed the blog. To keep up to date, Follow me on instagram OR twitter @maputiatota.

See you next week Wednesday!