5 Keys to a Successful National Service (#NSSDiscourse)

It’s the first day of National Service in Ghana for most 2019 graduates. I’ve been trying to write this article for the past month, but have been unable to get to it. To the extent that I even wanted to create a video, but still, that also couldn’t happen. Today, I eventually pulled myself up to do it because I got another request in my inbox about articles for NSS people.

From speaking to a few friends and reaching out to some colleagues, I categorised all their experiences into five keys. Pretty sure that they will help you make the most out of your National Service. This is because the questions I asked them pertained to “What I Wish I Knew Before NSS”. Thus if they’d had these keys themselves, perhaps their stories will have been much better than it currently is.

Now to the 5 Keys to Make the Most of your National Service

Practice Proper Financial Planning

The “NSS Allowa” isn’t the most sufficient amount of money you can make as an employee. But for starters, it’s not necessarily that terrible. To be able to actually make the most of the money you are paid, you need to plan for it. Without having a plan, the money will just slip through your fingers every month and before you know it, it’s already a year.

One friend suggested having a percentage based plan. Where you dedicate percentages to the various things you’ll be using your money for. I believe in giving and tithing and thus the recommendation I’m making takes that into consideration. You should absolutely set a standing order to be deducting your 30% for savings. If your church is electronic, then bingo, have another standing order for the 10% for your tithe.

Recommended: The 50, 30, 10, 10 rule
Where you set aside 50% of your income for expenses,
30% for savings10% for tithe/giving, 10% for Miscellaneous

Whatever be the case, make sure you have a plan for your money. This isn’t the time to buy the latest phone in town or be paying for Netflix subscriptions nor spending all your data on Snapchat. There will be better time for all of those things. Have a simplified budget that breaks down your everyday expenses as well as the weekly or monthly ones. Some other budgeting rules you may want to check out: 50, 20,30 Budgeting Rule . Check out these apps too for monitoring your money/spending: Spending Tracker Android, Spending Tracker iOS. Finally, make some time to read this article, you can make your choice on which app to use afterwards. Best Personal Finance Apps for Clueless Millenials

 

Gather Useful/Practical Experience

National Service is usually a period within which you’re viewed as a newbie and you’re able to get away with rookie mistakes. Use the opportunity to learn as much as you can. Take online courses, attend seminars, follow your superiors or colleagues to networking events, etc. As much as possible, put yourself in a position that allows you to build valuable skills that will make you a hot product on the market. Technical skills are absolutely awesome to have, but without soft skills you sometimes can’t even sell your technical skills.

Volunteer to do the “donkey” work in the office, work with other organisations, aim to develop specific skills.  Don’t always wait to be told what to do, offer to take initiative where necessary. Aim to develop such skills as writing, presentation, communication, interpersonal relationship when offering to take initiatives and what have you. The World Economic Forum nicely compiles a list of some of the hot skills to develop in here: The 10 Skills you Need to Thrive in the 4IR

The cool thing about all these skills is that you can learn them by just Googling them. You’ll get millions of resources to help you do that. Use your downtimes properly. Make it your life’s mission to leave your NSS post more skilled than you joined. One thing I told my sister was this: look for gaps in the place you’re working at which your skills can fill and fill it. Create a comprehensive document, develop a structure/system, introduce new ways of doing old things. Contribute something useful to your organisation before you leave.

Skills you should start working on during your National Service

Master Interpersonal Relations & Communication

One of the most difficult challenges I faced as an NSS person was learning how to navigate relationships in the workplace. It was difficult being able to tell when to offer information freely and when to hold it back. There are people who want you to relate to them like your peers though they are your superiors, and there are others who don’t have time to waste on you because you’re below their level. For your own good and peaceful existence in the organisation, you’re better off picking small moves that help you build respectable relationships with both sides of the spectrum.

Office politics is real whether you’re aware of it or not. It works to your advantage when you know what to do with it and how to hack it for your own benefit. I am not asking you to become unethical, I’m admonishing you to be strategic in your communications and relationships. Since I”m not a pro at this yet, I’ll direct you to sources that do a good job of explaining it better. What Everyone Should Know About Office Politics, Playing Office Politics Without Selling Your Soul

Learn to Manage Yourself

Appearances influence impressions. And for most young people today, we want to be ourselves, and that’s absolutely great. However, being yourself at the office comes with both pros and cons. You’re thus responsible for learning to identify which actions, inactions, tone of voice, expressions, etc to use at different times to ensure you’re out of trouble and building solid relationships at the same time. Learning to manage your anger, your weird ideas, liberalism, etc are all included in making the most of your National Service period.

I remember I had to hide in the washroom to cry because I spoke up about an issue during my National Service. You may be right, but there’s a right way to communicate that whoever you’re dealing with is wrong. Especially if you’re an outspoken person or very apt at logical reasoning and can’t keep your mouth shut. This is where things like Emotional Intelligence and stuff come into play. It’s a lot of strategy and tact put together into one bag, but the bottom line is this: learn to read people and tailor your responses uniquely.

Start Preparing for Full Time Employment Early On

During or after National Service, there’s full time employment. Whether you’re going to be self-employed or employed by another person, you need to start preparing for that journey. For the one who will want to be employed by someone else, start applying for jobs around six months into the service. That way, you get the opportunity to get conversant with being interviewed and what’s expected of entry level employees in most organisations. Once you get this exposure, you can even tell if you need to get some certifications or take specific courses to be able to stack up against your competition.

If you plan to be self-employed after NSS, you still need to start preparing before your time ends. Get your business idea prepared and run tests that have very low impact economically if need be. You can attend interviews to also learn how that process works or even network, who knows! Just make sure that whatever your employment plans are after service, you’re taking some action towards it earlier in the service period than later.

Bonus

Take lots of career tests. It’s bound to give you some sort of general direction of what you may be well suited for.

Know your personality or temperaments and use the information for your good. Check out 16personalities

Build solid networks with your colleagues, and higher ups. It’ll come in handy sometime.

Be hungry!!!!

I will love to hear additions from those who’ve already navigated this path. Also, for all the National Service personnel who may read this and have questions, leave the question on Twitter with this hashtag #NSSDiscourse, I’ll make time to answer it. And anyone else who is willing to assist can also answer these questions.

These are links to previous articles around transitioning from Student to Employee:

HOW TO TRANSITION FROM STUDENT TO EMPLOYEE – MUST DO’S

How To Transition From Being A Student To An Employee – Start Right!

Internship With a Purpose – A fulfilling Internship Experience

Increasing Productivity Amongst National Service Personnel

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About Enam Ami Agbozo

I thrive in these areas: Content Marketing, Business Writing, Blogging, Ghostwriting, Social Media Marketing, Youth Mentoring, Ideas Structuring, Public Speaking, Educational Content Creation. My joy is to see every individual I come into contact with see life as more than a job, getting money or buying luxury. I enjoy sharing what I've learned with people I meet and also learning from their experiences.

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