I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nigeria along with my parents when I was 10 years old. As I got older, I began helping the local missionaries in their work. It stunned me that often without college degrees, these missionaries were able to speak to all kinds of people, and they did so with power, authority, and conviction, and without fear.
Their example helped me realize that I wanted to serve a mission, but I also wanted to get a higher education. I had difficulty getting admitted into college, so I applied and submitted my mission papers around the same time. My admission letter and mission call arrived on the same day. I knew I wanted to go to college, but I chose to serve the Lord by going on a mission first.
Even though it was a sacrifice, serving a mission was worth putting college on hold. I learned many valuable skills—things like self-discipline, focus, communication, leadership, and reliance on the Lord. And everything I learned helped me in my schooling later. I will never regret putting the Lord first.
To me, education is like a key that opens doors to opportunity. And education through BYU–Pathway Worldwide’s PathwayConnect program in Ghana has given me the opportunity to improve my knowledge. Knowledge is power to improve the lives of my own family members and those around me.
After graduating from a BYU–Idaho online degree program, I interned with a financial company in Ghana and started working for them full-time. I liked what I was doing, and they liked my services. But after a while, the company went under, and I was out of a job.
That was discouraging, but I continued applying what I had learned from school and from my mission. I decided to take the skills I learned at my previous job and start my own business providing financial services.
My journey after graduation has been filled with ups and downs, but I don’t regret making education a priority. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to manage my own business right now.
A lot of young adults I’ve talked to have the mindset that a college degree somehow automatically gives you a job. But my biggest challenge has been finding an employer who values my degree as much as I do. If you’re struggling to find a job or find your way after college, you’re not alone. Here are some things that I’ve done in my job search that you can do too:
Get the most out of school. There’s a saying in Africa that says you must pass through school and not allow school to pass through you. When you go through school with purpose (and not just go through the motions), you will have real knowledge and skills that employers will notice—and after getting a job, you’ll be able to perform your job well.
Talk with everyone. In your job search, get out there, speak with everyone, and increase your network.
Be confident. Have the confidence that you are qualified to work. Focus on your dreams and goals and believe in yourself. It’s easy to lose confidence after discouraging rejections, but keep up hope. You’ll find the right employer or business opportunity eventually.
Take advantage of every opportunity. Opportunity is all around us. When we open our minds and are grateful for the opportunities the Lord gives us, we’ll be able to see and act on the opportunities He puts in our way.
Surround yourself with people who share your values and encourage you in your goals. It’s easier to move forward when you’re around the right people—people who have the same focus as you. Society is full of discouragement, but people who share your values and dreams will always lift you up and encourage you to achieve your goals.
Have faith. Sometimes you might wake up in the morning knowing that you still have no job and no way to get food on the table. But faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can make your burdens light and ease your discouragement as you take steps toward your goals.
In the end, always remember that Heavenly Father has an eternal plan for you. Even if things aren’t working out right now, that doesn’t mean they never will. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said it best: “I urge you to believe that your life will be infinitely better if you rely on God to guide your steps. He knows things you cannot possibly know, and He has a future prepared for you that you cannot possibly imagine.”1
The future is bright, and your pursuit of knowledge and education will not be wasted. Have faith and keep pressing forward. You will be led to where the Lord can best bless you and use you and your talents to bless others.