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Preparing And Finding Your Feet In The Job Market

In 2022, we have seen almost every University graduating the best of its students. But what does it take to hit it on the job market? How do you spot opportunities? How do you present yourself when an opportunity opens up?

Under our YES Initiative Mentors Engage Forum, we hosted an online Career Information session where we invited three distinguished panelists to share with university students and graduates tips on preparing for and navigating the job market.

We are happy to share with you the curated version of the session:

SB: Good evening, all

After a long break, welcome to the first, which is also the final session of our Mentors Engage Chats in the year 2022. I am your host, Samuel (SB), team leader of the YES Initiative.

Mentors Engage is a platform created by YES Initiative to enable various professionals to come and share their experience, knowledge, and expertise with our group of college students and interested members of the general public.

Propelled by our motto which is : “Inspiring a brighter future through education”, Youth Empowerment and Support Initiative-Malawi (YESI) exists to empower secondary school students and youths in order to influence their lives positively. We achieve this by providing tuition support, resources, and mentorship for academic and personal development.

Since 2017, we have supported over 50 needy secondary school students with tuition fees in the Salima district.  Our team of college students under the Secondary School Mentorship program has conducted over 30 career guidance and mentorship sessions in Salima and Blantyre districts.

First the ground rules, the group is closed to all participants except the moderator and panelists. If you have any questions to ask the panelists, please direct it to my inbox and I will ask on your behalf. At the end of the session, the group will be opened for comments from the audience.

In this Career Information session, we have three panelists, Mrs. Esnat Chilije Suleman (ES), Mrs. Getrude Chinangwa Gangata (GG), and Mr. Charles Kabena (CK). I will shortly post their profiles as part of the introduction, thereafter, I will start with the questions that we have.  As the moderator, I will be mentioning the name of a specific panelist when a question is posed, and when they are done, I will be turning to the next panelist. We intend to take a maximum of 1 hour and 30 minutes, if we still have questions after the duration, we will schedule a second session to tackle the remaining questions.

First, let me introduce our panelists:

Our first panelist is Mrs. Esnat Suleman:

Esnat is a holder of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Bolton (UK), a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences (Economics) from the University of Malawi, and an advanced certification in Capital Market Development and Regulation from the United Nations Institute of Training and Research, Switzerland. Furthermore, Esnat is a graduate of the Gordon Institute of Business Science Leadership Accelerated Program (South Africa) and the Florida Southern College Executive Management Program (USA).

Esnat has worked within the Malawi financial sector for about 14 years in different capacities and has extensive experience in Financial Analysis, Investment Management, Corporate Finance, Capital Market Operations, and Treasury Operations. She is currently the Head of Treasury and Investment Banking at FDH Bank Plc. Before joining FDH Bank, she worked with the Malawi Stock Exchange as the Operations Manager and with NICO Asset Managers Limited as Senior Investment Officer.

Furthermore, Esnat is a registered business valuer, a member of the Malawi Capital Markets Association Executive Committee, and is licensed as a Securities Representative by the Reserve Bank of Malawi.

Charles Kabena:

Charles has 11 years of rounded communications experience, including five in management at the senior level. Currently serving as Communications and External Engagement Manager at World Vision Malawi working. Charles leads strategic communications for World Vision’s Global Fund projects tackling Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TB in Malawi. Prior, he worked in Communications consulting for the World Health Organization and the Malawi University of Science and Technology.

 He holds a Master of Science in Communication for Development from the University of Reading (UK), a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the Blantyre International University, and a Diploma in Journalism from the Malawi Polytechnic.

Passionate about investing in children’s education and communications, Charles is also the founder and team leader for DreamShare Foundation and Talk about media.

Mrs. Getrude Gangata:

Getrude Chinangwa Gangata holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management from the Bunda College of Agriculture (currently LUANAR) and a Master of Philosophy in Nuclear Science and Technology from the University of Ghana).

Currently, she works as Dosimetry Officer at Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority. In her work, she is responsible for the laboratories that monitor radiation exposure of people that work with radiation sources. So far, the Authority has managed to monitor over 250 workers all over Malawi. The Authority also does inspections and quality control tests on radiation-generating equipment such as x-ray machines in radiology departments of all hospitals in Malawi.

I’d like to believe we now have an idea of who are our panelists this evening…

SB: Our first question to the panelists: What motivated you to choose your career path?

Charles, Esnat, then Getrude.

Charles: I loved stories from way back. Even though I didn’t have direct people to look up to, I’m grateful I had books.

So I read as best as I could, and in the process got to know about Journalism. So I studied journalism, first with the Polytechnic, Centre for continuing education, and went on to finish at BIU for my first degree.

I published my first article right in school (that’s how much I loved writing as a hobby).

And eventually found me at a few radio stations where I produced news before eventually being part of nation publications limited as a correspondent. And later joined World Vision as a communications lead.

Basically, that’s what I can share.

Thank you,

SB: Thanks, Charles. Over to you Esnat.

ES: I was motivated to pursue my career path because of the excitement as well as the challenge that it presented to me. There is no sense of routine in my line of work and there is continuous learning, mind application, and analysis. I also get to work with numbers quite a lot, which I enjoy very much and is also my area of strength. In more recent years I have come to appreciate the impact on the lives of people and the overall economy and that’s my source of motivation.

Unlike most people, I had limited knowledge and exposure to the options available to me when I was in college. I always believed that I would do mainstream economics. But after I landed my first job in the financial sector, my mind was opened up to many other possibilities. But it was maybe 3 years into my career that I became certain of what I wanted to do.

Thank you

SB: Thanks. Now, @Getrude

Getrude: I was motivated by the fact that there was a lack of experts in the field of radiation protection in Malawi. So, I wanted to be amongst the first few in this field. Thanks

SB: @Getrude, I will have to put you on the spot. Out of the three panelists today, your path seems a little unknown. For the sake of our audience, what is Dosimetry all about? Why do we have your office regulate what it regulates?

Getrude: Dosimetry means the measurement of radiation doses of people who are occupationally exposed to radiation. Our office exists to regulate the use of radiation for various purposes in order to ensure that it is used for the right purposes only. We exist to protect the people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation. Thanks

SB: Alright, thank you. Am sure some of our participants in the session may reach out to you so that they join this relatively new field.

On to our next question, @Esnat, how can one make the right career choice?

ES: The easiest way to tell if a career is the right one for you is to check if that career aligns with your values as a person, your strengths, your interests, and your long-term goals.

Thank you

SB @Charles, any additions?

Charles: Yes!

Follow your heart and your path. I chose Journalism because I loved it. I remember I was given a place to study nursing at some college and I knew I’d have excelled too. But not as well as I’ve done in pursuing my passion.

There are other professions that I’d have taken but just for the money. In writing and telling stories of people in need, I express myself and go out believing I’m making a contribution to society, promoting Justice and development. But it has also given me a living beyond my dreams.

Thank you

SB: Very insightful from our two panelists. Anything to add, @Getrude?

Getrude: They have said it well. Mainly choose what your heart is passionate about. But of course, sometimes you go by how you have performed in subjects at the MSCE level. Thanks

SB: There we have it. Coupled with your passion and interests, check your grades.

Now, we have two unique scenarios and I want to hear what our panelists have to say…

1. Some students complain that they are studying a program that wasn’t their choice, they were redirected, what advice can you give to them? 

2. Others choose a program because they do not have enough information, on the first day of college, they are surprised. Somehow, they crawl through the years, others even graduate with a degree in something they do not like. What can you say to such?

I am seeing, @Charles, already typing…

Charles: Gertrude is right for sure. We find ourselves in situations where we have to think and decide based on what we have. This is based on the idea of progress and making use of what we have. So, if there’s indeed a path we can take, suitable for our MSCE, I think there’s nothing wrong. But that shouldn’t make us give up on any of the careers we dream of.

SB: @Charles, you’re also the first to tackle this one…

Charles: Yes Moderator

I think you remember this incident from a month or so ago. So, I chanced on two girls discussing this other girl who is said to have burnt her degree, prompting a response from the university that conferred her the paper.

Some people have concluded that the said university is useless. Others are even questioning the wisdom of pursuing the degree that she did ‘in the present climate’. And there are other funny arguments too. I think it’s a serious and confusing conversation that doesn’t need to be taken at face value.

There’s a dangerous scale that needs to be stepped up with caution. Otherwise, there are kids being misled that they have no job because of their choice of a degree, or the school they went to. These may all be true, or entirely wrong. They’re told if they studied what that other person did, they’d be employed. Or be employable perhaps. Looking at Malawi at the moment, there’s no degree good enough to help you work your way out of a failing and a shrinking economy characterized by so much.

We should highlight one more thing here. Education is important. It is a sure way to lift people out of poverty, combat growing inequality, and bring an upward trek of increased social mobility.

Perspective is important. Focus on the forest and not just the trees.

Thank you

SB: I have noted @Esnat is typing… Come in, then @Getrude

Esnat: There is a popular saying, “when the world hands you lemons, make lemonade”. So my answer is simple, make a long-term plan! and in the meantime make the most of the opportunity that you have before you. There are many other people that would have done anything to get there. I know people who have completed 4 years of university and a couple of years later gone back to pursue their dream program. Sometimes you find that the combination of the two programs gives you a unique advantage. Everything happens for a purpose. At the end of the day, there are so many paths to the top of the mountain but the view at the top is the same

Thank you

Getrude: I can advise that for the first degree, the best way is to choose according to your MSCE grades. Here your choice can align with your passion or not. But you have more chances of being enrolled in college if you go by your grades. But in case it doesn’t align with your passion, don’t quit. Study through it faithfully. At the master’s level, you still have a chance to major in what you want.

SB: “there are so many paths to the top of the mountain but the view at the top is the same”, says @Esnat Any addition @Getrude?

Esnat: I would also like to add that quite often people have a first degree in an area that they are not practicing so unless it is a very specialized or technical area then you may not have much to worry about. You can also get a professional qualification that will align you with what you wanted to really do in life

Thank you

SB: Alright, thank you. And here is our final question of part 1 which has to do with academics…

Most fresh graduates have the fear of what they may do when they go into the industry. (The fear comes in in terms of what work are they going to be doing since people outside say that theory and practice are two different things) what can you say about this and how can they overcome this fear and become productive?

@Getrude to respond first…

Getrude: Having that fear is inevitable. I also had the same fear when I got employed. I was posted to a district that demanded an officer with much experience in environmental management. But I remembered one thing about God, He cannot give me something that I cannot bear. And somebody said fear means False Evidence Appearing Real. So I knew that though to some extent it may be true that theory and practice are two different things, I believed in myself that I will be able to manage the work, and there will be somewhere to start from. People are there who can teach you the practice and you find yourself working well. Thank you

SB: I am sure whoever has fears, they have grabbed a tip. @Esnat, over to you.

Esnat: Theory and practical only appear that different when you are not practicing/working in a relevant area to what you learned or in an environment different from where the theory was developed. There is ultimately a place for every kind of theory. I remember thinking I would never use my econometrics in real life until I started doing economic forecasting, investment analysis, and valuations.

 Having the theory makes learning the practical side easier. So there’s no need to be afraid or to worry. The theory is broad and sometimes goes beyond what is practiced here in Malawi but when you go into the practice you start to make more sense of the theory and then the two become more aligned.

The icing on the cake is that as a person just starting off in your career a reasonable employer will take the time to train you. No one expects you to be “all-knowing” in your first job

Thank you

Charles: Can’t agree more. Well said.

SB: So, that’s it. You cannot be an expert at something you’ve just started. @Charles?

Charles: My two colleagues have said it so well. Like athletes, Practice. Practice. Let’s pursue opportunities to put our knowledge to the test. Let’s prepare ourselves for the opportunities coming.

SB: Thank you, our panelists. Before we cross on to Part 2, there’s a question from one of the members of the audience to Charles. I will forward it as it is…

How did Charles join World Vision?

Charles: I didn’t expect it, but thank you😊. I joined World Vision in 2015 as a communications officer responsible for programs in southern Malawi. Prior to that, I was consulting for them on different projects. And I’ve risen ever since and gone on to manage the communications unit, since 2021.

In summary, I can say that. But happy to discuss further this journey and the lessons learned.

Thank you

SB: Thank you, Charles.  At times, the path from university to getting a job is either an internship or volunteering for organizations or companies. Therefore, we would like to know, why are internships or volunteer placements important to students and graduates? First @Esnat

Esnat: My internship experience is quite minimal. I was an intern with Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) for 2/3 months when I was in my final year of college. It was a very short internship so I didn’t do much except work on policy documentation. Nonetheless, I learned about the corporate culture which helped me develop the right expectations of the corporate world.  I also worked under influential people which was a source of motivation for me.

The importance of internships and volunteer placements is really to provide one with exposure and to prepare them for what they can expect after graduation it can also help shape your career decision

Thank you

SB: Thank you, @Esnat. @Getrude, any additions on why internships/ volunteering is important?

Getrude: Internship or volunteering is important because it gives you exposure just as said by my colleague, and it also gives you experience which most employers look for in their job adverts. You have something to add to your CV. Thank you

SB: Alright, thanks @Getrude  and @Esnat

SB: So, having known the importance of internships, the next question may be: How does one get an internship? On this question, I would love to hear about your personal experience, your workplace recruitment process, or any other examples you know. Again, I will start with @Esnat, then @Getrude. Charles is temporarily out…

Esnat: I got my internship through the economics department at the university.

From the organizations I have worked with so far, I note that names are often requested from the various universities

In a few exceptional cases, interns come through other connections that they may have made or through personal relentless effort

So, performing well in a university increases your chances from my perspective

Thank you

SB: Over to you @Getrude

Getrude: As for me, I did not do any internship. As I was waiting for many job applications that I had done, I volunteered to teach at a certain private secondary school in Chinsapo (An area in Lilongwe). I just approached the school management about my intention to volunteer teaching and they accepted me. I was getting very little money but I was happy that I was doing something rather than just staying home idle. As for the government which is where I am working, I can say that pay attention to the adverts for internships which are advertised almost every year. Apply for them and accept them when offered. They are really a good start for your career. Thanks

SB: Alright, thank you @Getrude

Charles is back. @Charle, I will give you a chance to tackle the question…

So, having known the importance of internships, the next question may be: How does one get an internship? On this question, I would love to hear about your personal experience, your workplace recruitment process, or any other examples you know.

Charles: Internships are really critical. I know of several colleagues at my workplace who started as interns and went all the way.

The practice is that a department or unit that needs interns informs our recruitment unit to organize interns for them to interview.

SB: Is that all? @Charles?

Charles: So often, they just go into letters that are dropped and look at the CVs. They also check on those who drop emails for the same.

We don’t do free internships, so that’s why the process is kind of controlled.

Thank you

Free in the sense that they’re all paid internships.

SB: Thank you, our panelists, for all the responses. We had scheduled that this session will run from, 7 to 8:30 pm. We are now out of time, with 5 questions to go. Therefore, we will proceed like this. For the remaining questions, I will send the panelists and they will type and send them, we will include the responses in the pdf and blog links that we will publish tomorrow. However, there are three questions from the participants which I feel won’t be just if we close without tackling them. In that regard, allow me to bring the questions that are answered as quickly as we can.

SB: The first question is directed at @Esnat ……. It’s a bit tricky, I will copy and paste it below…………

“Do you think intern should be paid less than any other employee at any organization or company while doing the same amount and type of work?”, @265885176015, there we go……..

Esnat: My personal opinion is yes. The salary scale is a function of a lot more things than just the level of work.

Organizations set salaries for different levels of employment. And those different levels are based on the level of education, experience, and nature of work.

If someone does well during an internship, they are often given a permanent position at a higher salary

There’s a need to strike a balance that also motivates those who have been with the company longer and have more experience and are probably more educated

Thank you

Charles: I concur with you. Otherwise, I’d there was equal pay, it would defeat the whole idea of internships. In such a case, they’d just go for a part-time person.

And we need to all be aware of this growing part of our economy. Whereas other organizations and companies will just get someone for a task, on a salary, short term and you go. But often, that goes to those with the qualifications and experience.

Thank you.

SB: Thank you Esnat and Charles. The participant who specifically asked that question to @Esnat am sure they have their answer.  The next one is general; I will forward it as it is to the panel…

Is it advisable to be sending unsolicited application letters for internship a few months before finalizing your undergrad?

As for my situation, I’ve been trying to send several of them, but months have passed with no acknowledgment that they have received the letters.

Charles: Most definitely, yes. And be explicit about the experience you’ve gathered while at school. Volunteering, leading, etc. That’s important. Remember to title such emails even well.

I’m sorry for the lack of responses from some but don’t feel bad, and don’t give up.

Esnat: It doesn’t hurt to try your luck. At the same time never be disappointed if you don’t get a reply. Sometimes companies are just not looking to hire unless they actually publish an advert. It doesn’t mean you weren’t impressive.

SB: Thank you for the responses above. Our final questions look directed at @Charles . I will copy my chat with the participant for the sake of context……..

“Communication is a broad field with so many areas of study, which might be a little challenging sometimes to choose one area to master since we are not sure of the nature of the institution we will land into after school, what can be your advice on this? Do we have to like every area of communication even though some are less interesting and challenging?”

Charles: This is a great question. Communication is evolving with time and the growth of the internet. So indeed, to position yourself for the next job market, you need to ensure you diversify your skill sets.

Digital communication is the present and future.

As I said earlier on, I studied journalism and an MSc in Communication for Development. But as I speak, I’m attending lessons on Website Development.

And gone on to equally master graphic designing packages because these are the tools that help you deliver on the roles. So, in summary, master the skills and be as marketable as you can be.

Thank you

SB: Alright, thanks, Charles.

What remains are questions in CVs and interviews, we will engage the panelists on the best way forward, whether to hold another session or just to type up the responses.

At this point, I will give a minute to each panelist to make their concluding remarks.

First @Esnat, then @Getrude, finishing with @Charles

Esnat: I will conclude by simply encouraging you to pursue a career in an area that you are passionate about. We spend more time at the office or in our businesses than we do at home if we exclude the time that one sleeping. So, you have to make the time spent at the office worthwhile and meaningful to yourself. I also want to encourage you to believe in yourselves. Be your own cheerleader. if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else believe in you?

Thank you

SB: @Getrude, your closing remarks?

Getrude: Thanks for including me on the panel. Involve God in your career pursuit. He will help you to understand your purpose in this life.

Thank you.

SB: Welcome @Getrude. And @Charles, how do you close?

Charles: Showing up is important in job hunting and life in general. Never doubt your potential. Always wear the ‘yes I can attitude’. The position we are in determines the decisions we make. The decisions that we make, equally flip to determine the position we get into. So, let’s be positive about our career choices.

Prepare like your life depends on them. Remember it’s a competition. So understand the Jon description and what’s expected of you. Pick out the buzzwords associated with the job and that work and give them an understanding that you are really interested.

Express yourself. Let the people know you as best as you can, humbly. Then let God work the rest of the miracle.

Thank you.

SB: “If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else believe in you?” Mrs. Esnat Chilije Suleman

‘Involve God in your career pursuit. He will help you to understand your purpose in this life.” -Mrs. Getrude Chinanga Gangata

“Express yourself. Let the people know you as best as you can, humbly. Then let God work the rest of the miracle.” -Charles Kabena.

And that is how we close the session today. ….

On behalf of the YES-Initiative lead team, in a very special way, thank our three panelists for taking time off your busy schedules to be with us.

I would also like to thank all our participants for sparing your time to join us this evening.  I hope you have enjoyed being part of the Mentors Engage Session.

Our Communications team will work overnight to make sure this chat is curated and shared as a pdf and posted on this forum, our blog, website, and Facebook page by midday tomorrow. Thereafter, we are all free to exit the group voluntarily.

By Monday next week, we will remove all participants so that we make space for participants who may be interested in our succeeding sessions.

For updates on our activities, programs, and weekly stories, please follow us on:

Call/ WhatsApp: +265 888 215 826/ +265 993 44 55 40


Twitter:  @YESInitiativemw

LinkedIn: Youth Empowerment and Support Initiative-Malawi





Youth Empowerment and Support Initiative – YESI in partnership with the Janet Allan Memorial Scholarship Fund has launched a 1500 Euro scholarship targeting underprivileged but deserving secondary school students in Salima, Malawi.

Through the scholarship, a total of 16 students have been identified from Yambe Community Day Secondary School and Chilumba Community Day Secondary School, both in the lake show district of Salima. The students have been awarded the scholarship based on their good performance in class as they have demonstrated hard work and good behavior.

During the two-year scholarship, YES Initiative will monitor the students each academic year and assess their academic performance and excellent behavior both at school and at home.

“We are emphasizing the need for students to demonstrate these basic principles because they are foundations of who they will become once they are done with secondary school and values that YES Initiative wants to see in students that go through secondary school,” said Samuel Malasa Banda, Team Leader for YES Initiative at a meeting between teachers, scholarship awardees and their parents.

The non-profit organization ensured that parents should also be informed of their expected role in the scholarship as the task needs to be done collaboratively.

 “We don’t want to create a scenario where students turn to be rude to parents saying they are not responsible for their (students) school fees or parents neglecting their children saying there nothing more they need to contribute to their growth,” added Malasa Banda.

Yambe CDSS and Chilumba CDSS are located in remote areas of the district where students walk long distances to access classes. In most cases, the little that parents get through farming activities is spent on school fees, examination fees, and other learning essentials for their school-going children.

Members of the YESI team posing for a photo with beneficiaries and their parents at Yambe Community Day Secondary School.

One of the parents of the students, Joseph Nthachi, expressed gratitude for the development saying it has always been hard to pay for school fees for his girl child since he does not earn much through his piecework.

“Usually, I would pay the fees in small bits and still find it challenging to pay the whole amount at the end of the school term. Having this kind of an opportunity is a blessing to me as a farmer and my daughter whom I will encourage to always continue performing well and being a good girl,” narrated Nthachi.

The scholarship is currently supporting school fees alone for two academic years for each student where parents are expected to meet the rest of the costs required at school.

Where more funds are possible, YES Initiative intends to extend the program to more schools to reach out to more students who are good performers but are failing to progress due to a lack of financial resources.

A distinction out of several efforts; Chifundo Mndala’s story

I was born in a family of five; a brother and three sisters, and I am the last born. I was born and raised in Lumbadzi where I attended my primary education at Mkukula Primary school and was later selected to Chinkhuti Community Day Secondary School in the same area.

By then, my goal was to pass MSCE with flying colours, just like my brother and sisters, though I was the only one who was not selected to a national secondary school in our family. My siblings were my motivation. I was inspired by their success in life and wanted to do the same.

Chifundo Mndala

I wrote my MSCE in 2013 and I was among the students who had best points in our class. I then wrote entrance examinations for University of Malawi (UNIMA) but only two students were selected from our school. This greatly affected me as I had high hopes and plans already lined up. It was so hard for me to accept the results. I later applied to Mzuzu University (MZUNI) to study Theology but unfortunately, I was not considered again.

My parents and relatives continued to encourage me that I should not give up. But honestly, I was not seeing any reason of trying again. I was comparing myself to my siblings and my friends who were selected to UNIMA and MZUNI. I had questions that could not be answered and I started seeing myself as a failure. I was later encouraged by my pastor to start applying for various scholarships.

After a number of trials to different international schools, I was later accepted at Ambassador International University in Zambia, where I studied Bachelor of Arts in Theology. And by the grace of God, I was among the top 5 students as I graduated in 2018 with a distinction and a GPA of 3.77.

Few weeks later after coming back to Malawi, I started working at Dzenza Secondary School and currently I am working with Old Mutual Life Assurance Company.

With such childhood experience where I felt like a failure and lacked inspiration, I chose to volunteer with YES Initiative so that I can help in reaching out to youths who have potential but are going through different experiences of low self-esteem and lack of inspiration.

Rejection that led to success; Sungani Siliya’s story

I am a second born in a family of two boys and a girl. I was born and raised in Lilongwe’s Area 23 where most people in my neighborhood were not highly educated. I drew my motivation of inspiration from my mother who is a primary school teacher at one of the private schools in Area 23.

While living with my parents, I did my primary school education in several primary schools due to my mother’s nature of work that always found her changing jobs in search for greener pastures. After making several switches I finally wrote my Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations in 2009 at Microtech Private School where I was the only student selected to start my secondary school at Kamuzu Barracks Community Day Secondary School.

Sungani Siliya

Honestly, I did my first three years of secondary without any proper goal and purpose except that mom would not let me be at home and do nothing. Unlike my friends who had mentors around them, I had no one to guide and direct me. I had no one within my circle to inspire me or challenge me or stand as a beckon of reference to spur my educational goals. Graciously in my Form Four year I begun to realize that there is a world beyond secondary school and a dream to become a clinician finally grew roots in me.

Though I could not see any glimpse of financial ability that could afford my tuition at any college as finding my secondary school fees was already a great hustle, I still persisted with my dream and applied for a place at Malawi College of Health Sciences after I finished my form four in 2013. I had all hopes that I would be offered admission as I felt to have nailed their entrance exams but unfortunately, I was left out. Three consecutive times more I tried reapplying for a place at the institution but still got a well-nourished rejection.

I later went for Nkhoma College of Nursing after being disappointed with the college of health sciences, just to find another big whip awaiting me as I was rejected admission after trying a good three consecutive times. After all those failed attempts in the medical world, I got wild and applied for everything I came across so long as I could find a place to further my studies. I applied for teaching courses, Tevet programs and even went for Police interviews where I was still rejected.

Finally, in 2018, I started volunteering with Cornerstone Christian Ministries in Salima district, a place that played a very big role in my life by reviving the dead passion for school in me and made me discover myself. With the mentorship and spiritual guidance of the ministry directors and other leaders in the organization, I realized that I am a good orator and I could make a good media person. I was then encouraged to apply for a Mass Communication program at African Bible College (ABC) and in a single shot, I got an admission to start school in 2020. I am now a college student at ABC, pursuing my degree in Mass Communication.

With such a childhood experience where I lacked inspiration and fought with rejection, I chose to volunteer with YES Initiative so that I can help in reaching out to many youths who have great potential in them but simply lack motivation and persistence just like I did.

From walking 10KM to school to becoming a pharmacist; The story of Sadi Yassin Anowa

It is common that at a certain point time an individual feels like there are some things that are supposed to be done by other people alone and you can do only too little. You tend to think that some activities are done by special people and you keep to yourself feeling less relevant as compared to others. This is where seeds of doubt and fear are sown. When the seeds start to grow, you start believing whatever people say about you.

I was born in a typical village that borders Malawi with Mozambique. In my early stages of development, I grew up in an estate where farming was all I knew. At a young age, I had to walk almost 20KM to and from primary school every day. During those years in our village there were only 3 people who were going to school but among them I was the youngest. You can imagine the pain of failing examinations despite walking such a long distance. I almost failed the end of year exams twice consecutively but I never gave up as I was still being encouraged that one day, I will make it to the next class. My parents never gave up on me.

Sadi Yassin Anowa

Things started changing as I was growing up. Repeating of the classes became history and slowly I started being in the top three of the class after exams. I managed to move from the bottom to the top. I started believing that I am capable and I understood my previous failures as success that was just being postponed.

I stopped walking long distances to school as I changed my residence got enrolled to a primary school that was nearby in the rural area. Life was not easy but I started to emerge top of class the during exams. I continued working hard as my wish was to find myself in a boarding secondary school one day. That aside, in Standard 8 my dream was to become a driver because the stories I was hearing about bus drivers and truck drivers of exploring places were fascinating.

Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination results came out in 2011 and by the grace of God I made it to a boarding secondary school, Zomba Catholic Secondary School. I was happy that my wish came true. Having heard about teasing in boarding schools however, I was a bit scared but still was strong enough to face the reality of life.

My life at Box 2 academically was not that smooth but I kept pushing myself harder. A memory of where I came from gave me all the reasons to work hard with intentions of achieving what my life wanted.

I changed my ambition of becoming a driver and started thinking of being an accountant. I was really lacking direction on who I wanted to be in life and why. As I was in Form two, a certain group from College of Medicine visited our school for a career guidance talk. These were people who were once at that secondary school. It was at this point that my mind was opened and started seeing what I can really pursue after completing secondary school. I started believing in myself and really wished to become a doctor.

In 2015 when sat for my MSCE exams, the results were impressive that I was confident enough to apply for a place at a public university. University application is one of the crucial and very critical processes where one has to make a proper decision in order to increase the chances of being picked. Much as I wanted to become a doctor, I did not apply for that program as I knew that it would be very rare for me to be enrolled in that program. I opted to apply for Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy (Hons). Luckily, I was selected to do Pharmacy at College of Medicine in 2016.

I am currently doing pharmacy and I am in my finale year. Now I believe that what your mind can conceive can be achieved. What other people have achieved can equally be achieved by anyone with no doubt.

I joined Youth Empowerment and Support Initiative (YESI) in order to learn and help my fellow youths to realize their dreams and to believe that they have the potential to achieve a lot in life. At the same time, I also learn a lot on how I can progress in life to positively impact my community. Looking at how I struggled to figure out my direction as to what I can pursue in life and how I can work hard to achieve that, it is very important that we stand for one another.

No matter the circumstance, never give up; Tupochele Milanzi’s story

As far as I can remember I was mostly an average student. I did most of my primary education at Chichiri Primary School before moving to other schools within Blantyre. After finishing my primary education, I was selected to Soche Hill Secondary school. The distance from the school to where I was staying did not make my secondary school days easier. Every morning, exhausted from the previous day, my friends and I had to make the same journey for four good years. The end result was the same average results, not enough to get selected to a public university.

Fortunately, I was enrolled at a private college to study for a Diploma in Journalism. From a young age I had always wanted to be a journalist as I wanted to be like the late Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma who was my role model. I worked hard and finished my advanced diploma with an upper credit and I was given an award by ABMA as one of the outstanding students in Africa. This award gave me the courage that it was possible to achieve anything that you put your heart to. By this time, dreams of attaining a degree were born. I didn’t know how but, I was determined that one day God will make a way for me.

Tupochele Milanzi

After finishing my advanced diploma, I tried applying for some jobs for close to two years. My plan was to get a job, acquire necessary experience and apply for a mature entry program at the University of Malawi and get that degree. Almost two years passed without finding the job. I was frustrated because by this time I thought I was growing old and most of my agemates were either getting jobs or getting married. One day my late dad called and asked me what my future plans were, seeing that I was just staying at home doing nothing. I told him my frustrations, and his response was, “no matter what, don’t give up! Go back to school, school is your future!”

This small talk became a driving force behind my motivation to further my studies. I went back to school and studied Media Graphic Studies.  When I finished the course, I got I job as a Producer straight away at a certain media company. I worked for two years and I eventually applied for a mature entry course at the college that God loved the most. After a year of waiting, the selection list was out and seeing my name on that list was one of the happiest moments of my life. I was ecstatic that finally the dream was going to be fulfilled. The spirit of not giving up had finally paid off. 

Equipped with my favorite verse Luke 1:37, I went to Chancellor College to study Communication and Cultural Studies, not knowing where I will be getting my school fees from.  By this time my dad had retired, my mom wasn’t getting enough to cover the fees and I was unemployed. But I didn’t give up. After two years of struggling with school fees I graduated in 2019.  The journey was never easy but I never gave up and I was determined to fulfill my dream.

I joined YES Initiative the same year I graduated with the intention of using my story and experience to motivate others, especially girls to never give up. Nothing is impossible. Set your goal. Work hard. Persevere and don’t give up. Economically empowered women are not prone to abuse in society because they can stand up for themselves. 

Why you have to sow a seed; Eleanor Phiri’s story

Growing up, I had the privilege of accessing quality education. My parents would repeatedly remind my siblings and I that education was the only lasting treasure that they owed us and that we needed to take advantage of the opportunity we had. This ignited a passion in me to work hard and make my parents proud.

Though I struggled academically in my early primary school days, with the collaborated efforts of my parents and teachers, I opened up intellectually and became an A student. This excellent streak continued through my secondary school days at Ekwendeni Girls where I had been selected to following my success with Primary School Leaving Certificate examinations.

Eleanor Phiri

There, I had a community of teachers, fellow students, spiritual leaders (Scom) and other staff members who continued to nurture me in every aspect of my life and hugely contributed to the whole individual that I am today. I left Ekwendeni Girls Secondary School as one of the best students and joined the Malawi Polytechnic to pursue a Bachelor’s in Internal Auditing. I wasn’t happy with my program of study as I had never considered studying it even in my weirdest dreams. But when an opportunity to pursue law came up while in my second year, I gladly turned it down as at that point, I had learned that life is what one makes with whatever God has entrusted them.

I learned through the various mentors I had encountered that God entrusts each one of us with a seed that we must sow into ourselves and others, and that the fruits from those seeds are what we term success.

It is this knowledge that inspired me to become a YES Initiative mentor. The belief that my story is a seed, my word of encouragement to a struggling student is a seed, my presence in YESI is a seed, helping someone discover their passion/purpose in life, being that bicker of light on somebody’s path; all these are seeds. In due time, they will each bring a harvest, regardless of how long it may take for us to see the fruits. I am confident of this because I have seen this principle work in my life. My parents, teachers, friends, workmates and other mentors have all in one way or another planted a seed in my life and these have started bearing fruits and will continue to do so in the long term.

I continue to apply the seed principle in my life even after completing my studies at the Malawi Polytechnic. I have worked in public accounting for almost a year now and on personal projects in the field of social entrepreneurship. I believe that investments I am currently making in my professional life and as an entrepreneur will yield a harvest that I desire sometime in the future as long as I remain consistent and disciplined.

I urge you to become a YESI mentor today. Find out what you have. Is it time, a story or any exceptional abilities that a secondary school student out there can benefit from? Then go ahead and give it by becoming a mentor. That way, you are assured of having sown seeds that will be multiplied back unto you and the entire nation at large.

Inspiration from unexpected places; Jack Nyirenda’s story

In as much as believing in our capacity is important for personal success, I also think that having confidence and helping others achieve their goals is vital for our own personal growth. This is how I describe mentorship.

After my primary education, I was selected to a community day secondary school and it was one of the most humbling moments in my life. When most of my close friends were selected to boarding schools, I remember being laughed at. The first terms in my junior years made it hard for me to accept this unexpected reality. I was hardly an active student that I was in primary school. I was not even bothered by the low marks I was getting. I accepted this as the new norm. I sunk so low that I began to cerebrate scoring as 40 marks out of a 100 in a test.

Jack Nyirenda

At some point still in secondary school as my performance kept getting bad, the deputy headteacher at the school invited me to her office. She challenged my performance and showed me the untapped potential that I had. In fact, it was from this discussion with her where I got introduced to the concept of ‘potential’. The discussion to me meant more than just a chat. It was my first glance at mentorship and I felt that I was responsible for my own future. Thereafter I gradually begun working hard and my performance started Improving gradually.

Fast forward to my senior secondary school years, attending mentorship sessions organized by the Youth Empowerment and Support Initiative pushed me even further to unleash my potential. I was greatly inspired by the stories of the mentors that I got motivated to achieve the same. The impact was just huge that I was nominated as the head-boy and managed to earn an award for being the best academic achiever. Not only that, in the same year, I took the lead at the institution in the national exams.

Generally, I think, a mentor is someone who exposes us to opportunities, maximizes our capacity and directs us to best approaches of achieving our desired goals in life. To sustain a relationship with a mentor, I’ve learned that it requires some amount of humility, commitment and persistence. All in all, my transformation has been greatly influenced by mentors, the giants who offer shoulders to stand on. Acknowledging their impact on me I decided to volunteer as a mentor as well to bring out the best in other people. It is one way of giving back to my community and I believe that sharing my story can also be a source of inspiration for someone to overcome their challenges and become the change they want to be.

Through it all, I made it; Prince Mandala’s story

Many are the times we hear people say “life is what you make.” I however feel life is how you perceive it. I realized this on how I made it to University in spite of many challenges that could have hindered this dream from coming true.

I was raised with a belief that education is a bridge that separates success from challenges we were facing due to poverty in our family. We could go a full day sometimes without taking a meal at home. To some extent, this could have affected my education but school feeding programs helped us during school days. I was so determined that even when I came from a challenging background, I was always in the top three of my class during primary school.

After my Standard eight examinations, I was selected to two secondary schools. But the chances were high that I could not go to either of the schools due to lack of fees. My father had passed on a few weeks after sitting for the exams I aced.

Prince Mandala

Well-wishers came in to assist but unfortunately the one who was given the responsibility of paying school fees on my behalf misused money meant for my first term of form one. This made the well-wishers stop supporting my school. Left with limited choices I was enrolled at a Community Day Secondary School in Chiradzulu.

As a student in secondary school, I had the ambition of becoming a Pilot – a dream which came after being fascinated by the aeroplanes we saw in movies those days. Later I said this dream was impossible for me to achieve due to three factors. The first was that the school I was learning at that time could not challenge me to dream that much since on average the highest scorer for MSCE until 2011 was above 30 points. The second factor was poverty, which convinced me that I had no platform for aiming that high. The last factor was the environment where no one in my family or community had ever been to college. Who was I to break a custom which had been there for generations?

In 2011, MSCE results were out and results came out as expected; 32 points and the highest of five schools in our area. After meeting a few people I admired, I had a new ambition of going to college and become an Economist. I sat again for MSCE in 2013 at a different school, and then I was selected to the University of Malawi, Chancellor College where I studied Bachelor of Science majoring in Statistics and Mathematics.

In college, challenges were a lot more. The same guardians who failed to pay fees for my secondary school were now burdened to pay my college fees which was ten times higher. But still, I never gave up. I did my part of studying, and the whole universe conspired to do the rest until I graduated.

When I think of my story, I am assured that there is someone out there who wants to give up for whatever reason. I joined Youth Empowerment and Support Initiative Malawi mentors team to become a mentor and help someone in a situation similar or worse than mine to keep going. This is one of the ways I can give back to my community.

I know achieving a goal is a terrifying thing to imagine. But if you are flirting the idea of giving up because of challenges you are facing, you can be throwing away something wonderful – your best future. Sometimes in your life there is going to be anxiety about uncertainty and fear of failure, but push yourself to keep going. That door in front of you is not locked but maybe it is just closed because no one has knocked. Do your part, the universe will conspire until you achieve that dream. Despite the challenges outside, begin with only that dream from within you, you will definitely make it.

The power of mentorship; Lonjezo Idrissa’s experience

The art of mentorship seems very light when you are just starting it, but it is of great importance as time goes. You do not remain the same as you started and since you become a different person compared to those who are not active in mentorship.

I am a Poet, Graphic Designer, Editor, Motivational Speaker and Writer. I did my Primary School at Ikaya Primary School in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa and later did my secondary education at Likangala Secondary School in Zomba. I wrote University Entrance Examination where I was selected to University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in 2015 to study Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Cultural Studies, majored in Public Relations and graduated in 2019.

Lonjezo Idrissa

While in college, I attended a number of trainings on Project management, Proposal writing, and Monitoring and Evaluation, and Data management, and data entry. Currently, I am working as a Communications Officer with Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) in Zomba district and doing a Diploma in Marketing at Zomba Institute of Management and Accountancy in Zomba, but the desire of being a mentor has never left my mind.

I joined Youth empowerment and Support Initiative (YESI) to become a mentor who influences and guides other school going young people in their personal and professional lives. I came to realize that mentorship is one of the topics that most people do not really know its importance. Of the many benefits I have gotten from mentorship, I have I can cite improvements in public speaking skills as one of them.

As you mentor different individuals in schools and colleges on different valuable topics, it slowly helps you to improve your public speaking skills. I believe that those who are involved in mentorship programs have a better public speaking experience as compared to those who have just learnt public speaking as a course. There is always a huge margin between them like a river and an ocean. The ocean has greater volumes of water and this can be compared to those who are involved in mentorship programs. The river has lesser volumes of water, and can theoretically be compared to those who just study public speaking as a course.

In my experience, I have realized that in cases where you are looking for job opportunities after graduating from college, you may find yourself communicating with the individuals from the organizations you have participated in their mentorship programs and they are always a good recommendation to employers. Chances are high for one to get employed fresh from college because of engagements like mentorship programs.

For anyone who has never done any mentorship or is willingly interested in indulging in mentorship, this is the time to do so.