Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your result with who you are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever put so much work into something and it failed?

Have you ever missed a big opportunity?

Have you ever been in a situation where it looks like you’re the dumbest person on the planet?

I’ve been there, and I know it hurts.

It hurts to throw yourself into something, and it doesn’t work out. It hurts when denied an opportunity you know you’re qualified for, and other less-qualified people got selected. It hurts to see everyone else progressing, but you’re still stagnant. 

Many people, when they experience failure, start thinking that is their destiny. They buy into what Les Brown calls “the never lies”: I’m never going to amount to anything; I’ll never be happy.

Their self-image gets destroyed by their experience and life becomes meaningless. They live day-to-day and every waking moment is mental torture. They’re like the woman in the book, The Alchemist, every day is just the same and there’s nothing to hope for.

If you’re going through a failure situation, I have good news for you: There’s a science-based formula for reinventing yourself! I know it works because it worked on me. While I cannot promise you fame or fortune, I can guarantee, however, that if you apply these principles, you will not only reinvent yourself, but you will be rightly positioned to do remarkable things in life!

3 Steps for Conquering Failure & Missed Opportunities

Step 1: Detox your mind

“Success and prosperity are nothing more than a way of thinking. We need to think differently.” – Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group.

woman taking photo while smiling

Nutritionists and psychotherapists have found several reasons why we need to occasionally detoxify our bodies: To remove toxins from the body, prevent chronic diseases, lose weight, enhance the function of our immune system, and so on. Likewise, we must occasionally detox our minds.

The problem with many people is that their mind has accumulated several layers of negative silos from their experiences of failure. They’re afraid of taking risks because they think they will never make it. This is what experts call associative conditioning – your mind preventing you from taking actions it links with pain and pushing you to the ones it links with pleasure.

If this is you, take heart, you can break that cycle from today! How? By detoxifying your mind!

Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University developed a groundbreaking learning theory called a growth mindset. It’s a sharp deviation from the common belief that a person’s talents are cast in stone. A growth mindset is a concept that revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability, and performance. It is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. In other words, failure is not final, it can be conquered with efforts.

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Is your life on track or are you drifting? Are you feeling stuck and powerless? Do you feel overwhelmed?

The good news is: Whatever damage negative, limiting thoughts have done in your life can be undone by you detoxifying your mind. Hence, you can begin, now, to fill your mind with positivity. You can begin to believe that things always go well with you. You can begin to believe that you’re a success. You can begin to expect amazing things to happen – and research says the universe will correspond to the nature of your song!

Mind over matter? Yes, but that’s not all. You have to take actions that resonate with your new self-image. Create a picture of who you want to be and propel your life in that direction through massive action (we’d take a deep dive into this in point 2). When you believe something, you commit to it.

Step 2: Define priorities and cut the clutters

Some people chase too many things at the same time. Their attention and energy strains between several options.

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown explains that, for centuries, that word “priority” was singular. It meant the first thing. Before somewhere around the 20th century, when the plural “priorities” magically surfaced, there can only be one first thing. Today, a lot of us are choked with several first things that we’re stumbling.

We’re in motion yet without tangible results. It’s time to press a pause on your endless to-dos and check your life:

  • What have you achieved in the past two years of your business, career or life?
  • What are the failures you’ve experienced in that process?
  • Is there a correlation between your lack of focus in your success or failed efforts?
  • What is the one thing that if achieved will move your life further?
  • What has been a drag to your life that you need to let go of?

When you’re done ferreting out answers to these questions, then it’s time to commit. If you’re a business owner, you’d probably discover that your lack of focus and strategy is sapping your energy. In other words, you’re a control freak and it’s killing your productivity. It might make sense to delegate or outsource the activities that do not rank within your strengths and specialize in those you excel in.

If you’re a student, you may realize that you’re spending too much time on other stuff instead of your studies. It’s quite easy to slack at school these days. The truth is: Education is still prime, regardless of your aspirations.

See, success is not accidental. Being a “jack of all trade or gonna-doer” does not translate to success either. It makes us lousy because, as Tony Elumelu said, you can have it all but not at the same time.

Pinpoint where your time and efforts are going, set your focus on a specific target, seek mentor support in guiding your path, and, commit to a course of action.

Focus your energy on those things that move you closer to bigger opportunities. To quote McKeown, “only once you give yourself the permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones

Step 3: Create “A-Game” partnerships

Several research studies have tested the correlation between accountability and success, and the results always pointed to a similar conclusion: “Publicly committing your goals to someone gives you at least a 65% chance of completing them. And, having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.”

Why is this so? Why is there a high chance for us to follow through on a commitment to someone else than to ourselves? The reason is simple: We’re far more likely to lie to and let down ourselves than someone we trust and respect.

Believe it or not, accountability works – every, single, time.

Consequently, when it comes to choosing your inner circle, you need people who hold you to high standards. You need people who are transformational and self-motivated. This is what I call “A-Game” partners.

Says Benjamin P Hardy: “The mere fact that most people avoid accountability is a powerful reason to create LOTS of it in your life.”

Your “A-Game” partners are innovators – they are continually pushing boundaries and breaking molds. They understand they’re responsible for their lives and results hence they take action in creating the outcomes they want.

One of my “A-Game” partners is a young woman I met a few years ago. Although we come from different backgrounds, we share similar worldviews. To her, the world is binary: If you’re not winning, you’re losing. If you don’t know something, learn it.

Her unique insights and simple approach to life are remarkable. We intrinsically challenge each other to grow further and outdo our pasts.

Do you have an “A-Game” partner? Do you have someone to whom you can peel off your life without the fear of being judged or criticized? Are you carefully choosing your network or are you tiptoeing around with losers?

If you don’t have good people around you, find some. And, don’t just find one, create an army. Immerse yourself in a network of people who inspire you to become better. Remember: Relationships thrive when each party is pulling along. So, don’t just take, give back.

You can overcome failure and missed opportunities

If you’ve experienced failure or missed several opportunities, this is the time rewrite your story. Be patient with yourself as you practice the following three steps: 1) detox your mind, 2) define your priority, and 3) create an “A-Game” partners.

Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your results with who you are. Every failed attempt moves you further. Another thing I want you to remember is that just because someone else is prospering doesn’t make you a failure – focus on your own journey. Invest in yourself, improve your worth, become inspiring. And, the next time an opportunity comes knocking, you’d be ready!

About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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There are certain traits that make you successful in a job.

In my previous article, I shared some insights into 6 biggest job application mistakes you must avoid at all costs. A gentleman reached out to me after reading the article to ask if I could write a follow-up piece on what employers look for when hiring.

I have had the pleasure of participating in numerous recruitment exercises through personal engagements with institutions like President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) West Africa (as a volunteer consultant responsible for assessing and interviewing applicants from 9 YALI West African countries including training a team of local and international assessors and interviewers), and SFAN’s job placement initiatives.

Regardless of size, industry or legal structure, the five traits below are distinguishing traits many employers look for in a prospective new hire.

  • Smartness – clever, witty, or readily effective attitude

Whenever we sit down with a client for a briefing, this is one of the traits mentioned again and again as the first thing they want from a new hire. The reason is simple — employers want someone who can get the job done. In this era of accelerated change, overwhelming complexity and uncertain work environment, very few employers have enough time to teach a candidate everything he or she needs to know. Click To TweetIt’s no longer enough to focus on the job description, you need experience and mastery of other transferable, cross-functional skills like social media, communication, email, etc. Therefore, your ability to demonstrate both industry competence and related functional leadership will set you apart.

  • Passion – strong and barely controllable desire

The business world is getting increasingly fierce, thanks to technology and competition. A passion for your work helps you maintain the level of focus and commitment required to survive and thrive. Consequently, recruiting managers are keen to find candidates who can progressively demonstrate dedication and commitment to their job. When someone cares about the job, he or she can go the extra mile in delivering above and beyond expected results — not just doing the barest minimum that earns him/her a paycheck. A candidate with passion adds great value to the company.

And, it is easy to tell whether a person is passionate or not. One meeting or interview with a candidate is enough to tell you whether he or she is passionate. I have seen that candidates that approach an interview with enthusiasm and have concrete goals for their career, a self-development plan, and are able to articulate their thoughts usually perform well on the job. As any recruiter will tell you, self-motivated candidates are like flickers of light; they help others find direction.

  • Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate

We live in a world where everyone does not have the same starting point. Therefore, you must be compassionate and considerate in how you treat yourself and other people.

We have all heard of the power of little acts of kindness. A prominent example is the incident of August 2016 Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro. Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino where four laps from finishing the 5000m race when they tripped and fell. The American athlete, Abbey D’Agostino got up first but instead of continuing running, she pulled up her opponent and said, “get up, we have to finish this!” Unfortunately, shortly after that, her knee gave out; she had injured her right leg in the fall. D’Agostino was on all fours on the Olympic track, her face writ in pain.

Realizing what had happened, Hamblin stopped running and reached back for her. They continued to run side-by-side in the bottom spot until they finished the race. These women have never met each other before.

Although this might be an exceptional case, we encounter issues and situations in the workplace every day that one may be tempted to look the other way. However, one act of compassion may be all you need to make a lasting difference. And, it starts with being gentle to yourself because if you are not kind to you, you cannot be kind to anyone else.

  • Hustle – grit, a trait of perseverance

Angela Duckworth is an American psychologist and researcher. As part of her work, she spent years researching traits that make a person successful or not. From Westpoint Military Academy to National Spelling Bee to Private Sales Enterprises, one significant characteristic she learned as a distinguishing factor for success is a simple word, grit.

Grit, as she defines it is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. It is stamina, ability to stick with your future day-in-day-out, and working hard to make that a reality. Grit is living life like a marathon, not a sprint.

Our era of instagramification has led many to believe that success (in jobs and life) can be automated like social media posts and grocery orders. But then you study highly successful people and you realize that to be successful at anything you do requires a mind-blowing work ethic. Candidates that demonstrate the ability to hustle and reach for their goals will always outshine others who want things to happen by autopilot.

Research has proven that talent alone does not make a person great; the world is filled with talented failures.

The Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck, popularised the idea of a Growth Mindset through her book “Growth Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. It says that the ability to learn is not fixed; it can be learned. In other words, failure is not a permanent condition, it can change with efforts.

The stick-ability in chasing your goals, exploring your potentials and continually learning, adapting, and evolving is more important in the workplace today than any and everything else you can think of. Click To Tweet
  • Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

Being dependable and trustworthy one of the most important traits in the workplace. It fosters a great work environment.

No one wants to deal with someone or a company that says one thing but goes on to do an entirely different thing. We all want someone that can follow through, take responsibility for their actions and execute on commitments.

Strive Masiyiwa is the billionaire founder of Econet Wireless. His teachings are filled with stories taken from his own experience in which he steadfastly refused to compromise his principles. Masiyiwa says that integrity is one of the major reasons for his success in life and business: “In my 30 years running a business (remember I started in 1986),” he wrote,” I’ve met and known some highly gifted entrepreneurs who looked ready to set the whole world ablaze, but after a few years, some of them failed spectacularly. Whenever I looked back on what had happened… more often than not, it was an issue of integrity.”

No matter how much success a person accumulates by compromising or cheating, it will eventually fizzle away. Every culture and belief show there are no shortcuts to success. It may be painful to maintain your honest stance but in the long run, it will pay off.

In the words of Brian Tracy, self-development trainer and coach,  “there should be no exceptions to honesty and integrity. Integrity is a state of mind and is not situational. If you compromise your integrity in small situations with little consequence, then it becomes very easy to compromise on the big situations.”

Have other traits you noticed? Drop them in comments.

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you like this article, check out this one on how to make the best of your internship. Need help finding your perfect job, reach out to us via Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here

It can be frustrating when you send in your application for a job opening but do not receive a response from the hiring manager. Apart from the fact that the job market is competitive as ever, the reason you are not hearing back from hiring managers may be some of these limiting job application mistakes I am about to share with you.

One thing many job applicants do not take into serious consideration is that their application is the first point of contact with the company they are applying to — it is an opportunity to slingshot your copy into the hiring manager’s shortlist. Therefore, you must do everything necessary to grab that opportunity and make the employer go wild over your copy!

From an experience of reviewing numerous applications within the past two years, the following are some of the biggest mistakes people commit while applying for jobs.

1. Not following the application procedure and poor email etiquettes

Here is the rule of thumb you should bear in mind when applying for any job: every company has a recruitment process that prospective employees are required to follow. For the most part, it is usually simple and will be communicated in the application form. You will do yourself great service if you follow whatever procedure is required of you.

If the job application is via an email, ensure you add a heading to your email. Because emails can contain viruses and irrelevant information, email headings are how busy people decide whether to open it or not. Also, I think it is generally unprofessional to send an email without a heading. For employers, how you do anything is how you do everything. If you cannot add a subject line to a mail that announces your first contact with the company, how likely is it that you will do any different when you are hired?

Experts have said that a good job application subject line should 1) be professional, 2) be relevant, 3) contain the job title you are applying to, and 4) be short and straight to the point.

Here is an example of a good job application subject line: Administrative Assistant Job – Edith S. Boakye.

Furthermore, your email address should reflect the professionalism you seek to portray. Emails such as is a turn off for many hiring managers. A better and more professional email address would be Some recruiters recommend that you set up a separate email account for job-related purposes.

Finally, ensure to keep your email content as brief as possible. Errors in grammar and spelling will be the first thing that will catch the employer’s attention. So, do yourself a favor and spell-check it before clicking send.

2. Sending a poorly written resume

One major deal breaker in a job application process happens over the resume. Regardless of size or industry, this study suggests that many recruiters, hiring managers and human resource professionals are still utilizing resumes as the basis for great first impression in a recruitment process.

In a recent survey of over 300 hiring managers, Top Resume reveals that the followings are the biggest resume deal breakers candidates should avoid:

  1. Spelling and/or grammatical errors
  2. Incorrect or missing contact information
  3. Unprofessional email address
  4. Outdated or irrelevant information (hobbies, age, marital status)
  5. Failure to demonstrate and quantify results
  6. Annoying buzzwords and/or obvious keyword stuffing
  7. Too generalized/not customized to match job listing
  8. Repetitive words or phrases used in multiple job descriptions
  9. Including a headshot (the photo may be distracting or unprofessional)
  10. Format and/or design is too elaborate (a one-page resume is more ideal for most resumes)

3. Not adding a good cover letter

One of the most important tools in your job application arsenal is a cover letter. If it is true that a resume is like an appetizer to a hiring manager, then the cover letter is like the main ditch for determining if the candidate will proceed to the next stage of the recruitment process (in some instances, the reverse may be the case).

A cover letter allows you to target the recruiter and job in a more direct manner; highlighting your skills in a way your resume cannot. Click To Tweet It is also your sales copy to show the employer why the job is of interest to you and why you’re the one he or she must hire.

Therefore, ensure to put some thought into crafting this real estate. Be diligent in your research of the company; understand whom to address your copy to and skillfully highlight the keywords that are relevant to the job while demonstrating that your personality fits the organization’s culture – that is if it actually does.

Lastly, keep in mind that with an increasing number of software tools being utilized to navigate through a stockpile of applications, the cover letter is usually the first thing the hiring manager will see, especially as the pile minimizes to ideal candidates.

4. Not knowing the company you’re applying to

You’ve read the job application and you’ve made your resume waterproof. Now, you just want to quickly send in your resume so it can be the first thing the recruiter will see. While it can be useful to send your resume as early as possible, you miss a great opportunity if you do not research the company you’re applying to work for.

As any recruiter will tell you, there is nothing as frustrating as calling a candidate for an interview only to find out that he or she does not know anything about the company’s business.

For starters, researching the company will help you tailor your cover letter as explained above. It also helps you connect with people that already work there and gives you the chance to determine if the company is headed in the direction you want to go.

5. Not keeping a good social media presence

Here’s another secret for job seekers: most hiring managers will check out a candidate’s social media presence before making a job offer. In this digital age, the first thing most recruiters do before contacting you is to Google your name (your LinkedIn profile is usually their first destination), and if you have not kept a good social media presence, you will be at a loss. 

For a technical role as a web or software developer, I will want to see some repository on Github or websites you’ve built.

No company will hire someone that is perceived as a reputation hazard. Hence, endeavor to keep your profiles as professional as you can get and watch your comments and posts. It is easy to get entangled in a “flame of wars” that means nothing to you but might matter very much to your prospective employer. More so, be careful that you don’t vent your frustrations about brands or people online — you never know where your next job may be coming from.

This article has further recommendations from recruiters on how to keep a great social media presence when looking for a job.

6. Lying in your application

One major reason a resume is not an objective source of information for a recruitment decision is that many applicants lie on their resumes. Consequently, employers are devising numerous strategies to catch those who tell a fib through various online and backdoor reference checks.

If a recruiter determines that a candidate lied in his or her application, the candidate has marked ATS and that will be the end of that candidate’s chance of ever getting a job in that company.

Another reason it is inadvisable to lie in your application is that even if you don’t get caught in the recruitment process, it will eventually come up at some point. When that happens, you will not get away with it. Experts recommend that “by making friends with employees on networking sites like LinkedIn, job seekers can demonstrate how their personalities and aptitude are a match for the employer and this makes not having an exact match inexperience less of an issue”.

Twitter can also be a good place to network with prospective employers. Use these tips to network like a pro.


The job search process can be extremely overwhelming and tedious. But, when you finally find that opening that matches your qualification or can be a great stepping stone to your career goals, you want to ensure that you put in the efforts by making your application irresistible to the hiring manager. In the words of Vince Lombardi, the price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

Have other job application mistakes you noticed? Drop them in comments.

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here

Image: Cytonn on Unsplash

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Internships are super important for every college student today. Apart from them being ways of exploring the world of work, they help you acquire job experience. Recruiters will hire someone with a job experience rather than someone with a general resume.

(If you are looking for feasible tips and strategies on how to prepare for your dream career, level-up with this inside scoop from hiring managers.)

Many companies are increasingly investing in internship programs as a recruitment tool for full-time jobs. Therefore, your ability to distinguish yourself from other interns contributes towards your chances of getting hired. In this post, I will give you a cheat sheet for making that happen!

  1. Have a clear goal

Internships are investments in your future. They move you even closer to actualizing your career goals. Consequently, you need to have a goal for your internship. Be specific about what you want from the opportunity and work towards actualizing it every day.

Your goal must not be extraordinary; it could be skills you want to learn from the job and how you want to be remembered afterward. The effect of your work is often the most important thing.

Endeavor to merge your goals into your supervisor’s goal. No matter how significant your goals are, if they are not in congruence with that of your boss, you are running a losing race. Therefore, be clear about what he or she wants from you at the end of the day and use every opportunity to actualize it.

  1. Be a fast follower

Here is a rule of thumb: the first reason for an internship is to gain a hands-on, real-world application of what you study in college, and to get an experience of what your everyday life will look like on the job. So, to make the best of this opportunity you must learn as much as you can from your colleagues and your assigned tasks.

There are two kinds of people in every company: the high achievers and the lagers.

Find out who the stars are and understudy them. Learn how they approach their jobs, how they dress, communicate, relate to others, and so on. Find out what makes them shining stars. Success leaves crumbs and if you show a genuine interest, you will learn one or two vital lessons.

It might not always be easy to make a connection, so you need to be smart. A gift often opens many doors, buy something like a cup of coffee for him or her (be the person is the coffee type though) or bake them their favorite cookie. If that doesn’t work, find out what they are working on and see how you can be the “Mike Ross” to their “Harvey Spectre”.

  1. Be indispensable but be professional

If there’s anything I can guarantee that EVERY boss dislikes, it’s having to do the work you should do. The fear of “turning assistance to resistance” is the major reason many interns are not given responsibilities beyond minor errands.

So, your job is being that intern that goes above and beyond in executing tasks. Take initiatives, volunteer when the need arises, and don’t leave at the end work of every work day until your boss tells you to leave.

Depending on the company you work with, make time to connect with people in other departments as well. However, do not take more deliverables than you can finish on time. Learn to manage your expectations because you might not always get credit for your work or ideas. Above all, don’t be sloppy – present yourself in the best light.

  1. Network but keep your eyes open

Relationships are the currency of the future. No matter how good you are, if no one can vouch for your competencies, you do not exist. Your internship gives you the opportunity to connect with your workforce field. These are people who can point you in the right direction or serve as mentors as you progress in your career journey.

Nevertheless, don’t be carried away with networking and making connections that you forget your priority – your job.

More so, there is a fine line between networking and flirting. The latter is dangerous for your career. It’s easy to create a reputation for things that are not interesting so be sure to know when the conversation is changing tones.

Finally, leverage platforms like LinkedIn to keep your connections together. If you want to go a step further, create a MailChimp account and add your contacts to a list. Think of it as your personal brand’s mailing list.

  1. Seek Feedback

Here’s another thing most interns do not know: no one expects you to know everything about the job or company. Consequently, one of the smartest things you can do is to seek for and respond to feedback. Ask for help or clarifications because asking is a sign of maturity. Many interns have made terrible blunders because they were afraid or proud to ask. Don’t let that be you!

Here’s the right way to ask for feedback:

  • Listen: Don’t be in a hurry to explain or excuse yourself, listen to understand the speaker’s point of view. In the end, the reason for feedback is to make improvement so listen to understand not to have a ready answer/argument.
  • Ask for clarifications: If the feedback is surprising, ask for clarifications. Perceptions are often deceiving so be sure to understand what is required.
  • Observe: Observing your co-workers and being more self-conscious could also be a fantastic way of seeking feedback. Observe the reactions of the people you engage with and adjust yourself so. Furthermore, instead of always looking to your boss or supervisor for feedback, consider asking your colleagues. They are the ones that interact with you the most and will often give you some of the most insightful feedback.
  • Act: Acting on the feedback ensures the loop is kept and helps you improve. In a situation where the feedback is difficult, take time to adjust and then go back to the speaker with your questions. In any case, be sure to express gratitude for the feedback no matter what it sounds like.
  1. Show gratitude

The ‘attitude of gratitude’ is an asset; it’s the rub for making lasting impressions. When you finish your internship, show appreciation for the opportunity given you. If you do it right, you would have shifted the odds in your favor towards a full-time job.

Make efforts to share specific skills you learned on the job and thank everyone that helped you in the process. You could also add an individualized touch by sending separate notes to each person that assisted you instead of a general thank-you letter.

However, a thank-you letter is not a tool for ranting or sharing your frustrations. If you have recommendations you wish to make, express your views politely. More so, make sure that every information you share is correct. Equally important, don’t ask for a job bluntly. Instead, you could ask for is a LinkedIn recommendation.

Finally, include your contact details and any other useful information. If you wrote a blog post about your experience (this is a great marketing tool for the company), add a click-through link to the post in your note.

Internships are great investments in your future. Nevertheless, to make the most returns on investments, you must 1) have a clear and precise goal for the opportunity, 2) learn vital job skills, 3) go above and beyond in executing your tasks, 4) create lasting connections, 5) seek for and respond to feedback, and 6) show appreciation for the opportunity.

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here

Image Credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Whether you are building a business or a career, there are times when you need a second voice in reinforcing your ideas or echoing your claims. That’s why you need quotes.

In the words of former Swiss Volleyball player and author of 100 Inspirational Quotes, Michel F. Bolle, “inspirational quotes are important because they activate an emotional pulse point in our hearts and minds when we are in a distressing situation. The right quote can help us to see light at the end of the tunnel, and give us that extra burst of hope and courage to persevere.”

Therefore, we ferreted out 40 powerful quotes from some of the most celebrated African leaders to help you get through any day.

                     Folorunsho Alakija, Vice Chair of Famfa Oil

· I never went to a university, and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly.

· You need to decide what you want to achieve. Get rid of naysayers — those who say to you that you can’t do it. Never allow anyone to tell you it can’t be done. In my dictionary, ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist.

· You need to believe in your dream. Don’t give up when things get tough, just hang in there, stay focused and be patient.

· We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

· It’s essential to draw up a “things to do” list on a daily basis and set priorities in executing them, making sure that any unfinished task gets posted to the next day’s list.

                                 Strive Masiyiwa, Executive Chairman & Founder of the Econet Group

· Whether you’re a farmer, builder or engineer, the opportunities are equal: Just add a little innovation.

· A vision on its own is not enough. Hard work & dedication is required to make that vision a reality.

· If you are working or you are running a business you have to set aside time and money to invest in your continued formal education and skills acquisition.

· You have to be very methodical in breaking down, the reason why something is successful. Most often it is not as simple as it looks.

· I started in business when I was 25 years old, with only $75, pooled between myself and a friend. We went around the suburbs fixing broken lights, and gates. We invested every cent, into doing bigger and bigger projects. For me, nothing has really changed in terms of those basic principles: you start with what you have, you do what you can, you invest what you get so that you can do bigger and bigger things.

   Lupita Nyong’o, Kenyan-Mexican Actress

· You can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion, for yourself and those around you. That kind of beauty inflamed the heart and merchants the soul.

· No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.

· What I will say is that what I have learned for myself is that I don’t have to be anybody else; and that myself is good enough; and that when I am being true to that self, then I can avail myself to extraordinary things. You have to allow for the impossible to be possible.

· You fail, and then what? Life goes on. It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things.

· We don’t get to pick the genes we want. There’s room in this world for beauty to be diverse.

                       Tony Elumelu, Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation & Chairman, UBA.

· Today we may appear young and people may not believe in us but we are going to compel them to believe in us through our achievement.

· Your idea can transform Africa. Let’s stop talking and let’s start doing.

· A true leader is one who remains committed to a higher purpose that most others do not yet see. I have studied great people and one common thing I found among them is Legacy.

· Let us remind ourselves of the power of individuals and what potent capacities and opportunities lie in this. No one, but us will develop Africa.

· People management is key. Learn how to motivate your people. Be painstaking in choosing the right people.

                       Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian writer, speaker, and Activist

· I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.

· Of course, I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.

· If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.

· Never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything.

· They themselves mocked Africa, trading stories of absurdity, of stupidity, and they felt safe to mock, because it was a mockery born of longing, and of the heartbroken desire to see a place made whole again.

    Patrick Awuah, Founder, and President of Ashesi University College

· The people who have taken oaths and made promises, to be leaders and guardians of society, instead have disgraced us. I am challenging you to be the generation that can restore Africa’s honour.

· The ability to confront complex problems, and to design solutions to those problems; the ability to create is the most empowering thing that can happen to an individual.

· I think the current and future leaders of Africa have an incredible opportunity to drive a major renaissance on the continent. I believe that Africa has reached an inflection point with the march of democracy and free market across the continent. We have reached a moment from which can emerge a great society within one generation and it will depend on inspired leadership.

· It took a little bit of naivety to get started. I did not know how hard it was going to be. I think you just have to have this incredible confidence.

· I did have a lot of naysayers in Ghana but I didn’t have a lot of naysayers in America… when I decided to quit Microsoft people said ‘hey’ this is a great idea, this is what life is all about you have to chase your dreams and when you are ready to call us and we will see what we can do.

          Rapelang Rabana, South African Technology Entrepreneur and Founder of Rekindle Learning

· Skills and business knowledge will only take you so far, your principles, values, as well as your personal growth outside the business, matter more than just what you know.

· The more congruent the business is to who you are as an individual and what you value, the deeper your capacity to persevere and outlast.

· It is important to be close to the people and things that anchor you. For me, it’s my parents, my family, my close friends to have a laugh with. Being reminded of who you are, and regardless of the circumstances, that someone thinks you are great.

· If you don’t know why you are doing it, you will battle to make the kind of long-term commitment that will see you through the challenges.

·Not everyone realizes that by not choosing, life chooses for you and that is never the ideal outcome. Those who become great are deliberately creating their life path as opposed to allowing life to happen to them.

    Aliko Dangote, Nigerian billionaire, and owner of the Dangote Group

· Endeavor to work as hard as possible to attain a new aim with each day that comes by. Don’t go to bed until you have achieved something productive.

· I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, a tenacity of purpose is supreme.

· In whatever you do, strive to be the best at it.

· If you don’t have ambition, you shouldn’t be alive.

· Every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems, before retiring home.

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A Discussion of The Future of Work at The Quantum Leap Career Fair 2017


They say the future is automation and it sure seems that way. If you’re following the trends in technology, it looks like the robots are coming and they’re coming for our jobs. In the car manufacturing business, robots have taken over the assembly line. Things that needed to be done by humans are slowly being replaced with robots. Soon enough, these bots could move from the assembly line and make their way into the service industry.

Technology is slowly replacing people who offer services. Before I got hooked on ExpressPay to pay for my airtime credit, I used to buy scratch cards from the guy in the streets. But now I can easily whip out my phone and easily purchase credit online. I really have no need to buy from the guy in the street selling credit or the person at the corner with an umbrella stand with a table advertising mobile money transfers.

In the US, I hardly had the use of a fuel attendant to fuel my car. I just used my credit card and swiped at the machine and entered the amount I wanted. Is it too far-fetched to think that the same thing can’t be replicated at Ghanaian fuel stations? Perhaps fuel attendants may need to think about another line of work. If Shell or Goil can make use of those systems, why hire people to fuel your car for you?

Those were the themes that were touched on at the Quantum Leap Career Fair 2017 at the British Council. The event was put together by Stars From All Nations (SFAN), a high impact social enterprise that bridges the gap between education and work.

The event was created to talk about the future of jobs in Africa. Are the robots coming for our jobs? Is AI ready to take away service jobs from the next generation?

Lucy Quist: The Hero We Need In Our Society

Lucy Quist answering questions from the audience

The keynote speaker for the event was Lucy Quist. Lucy is currently the CEO of Airtel. She’s a strong advocate for STEM and girls education.

She’s a very eloquent speaker. Her address focused on what was happening back in the day with computers and automation to the present day where things she was doing in the past could easily be replicated with the use of an app on your smartphone.

She was very passionate about what she talked about and it showed during the Question and Answer section where she answered questions from the audience about education, changing mindsets and slowness and inefficiency of government services.

It’s great to be in the presence of people like Lucy Quist because she’s the type of person that gets it. She really believes that people themselves need to get better and improve and not look at government to always save them. Her views don’t just focus on Ghana but on the African continent as well.

Collaboration, Robots and Hidden Figures: Summary From The Panel

Quantum Leap Career Fair 2017 Panel
Quantum Leap Career Fair 2017 Panel

After Lucy Quist’s marvelous keynote speech and Q&A, a group of panelists was up next to talk about the future and changing nature of work in Ghana and Africa.

The moderator for the panel was my internet crush Jemila Abdulai, the founder, and editor of Circumspecte.

Jemila Abdulai of Circumspecte

The panelists included Yasmin Kumi (Founder of Africa Foresight Group), Josiah Kwesi Eyison (Co-Founder of iSpace), Amma Baffoe (Head of Recruiting at MEST), Genevieve Puni (HR Practitioner from RecTrain Services Limited) and Paul Payne(Manager of British Council Skills Hub).

A lot of issues were touched upon including being business minded and entrepreneurial, adapting to the future of the coming of AI and robots which seems inevitable and thinking outside the box and upgrading your skillset through the use of the internet and networking.

It was mostly agreed that even though the robocoplyse is coming, it will be a slow build before it has adverse effects in Ghana. But generally, people will need to adapt and still stand out if and when AI or bots take over. An example from the panelists about ‘adapting’ was a reference to the movie “Hidden Figures”, where the three main female characters taught themselves programming because they foresaw their replacements being IBM computers.

Another interesting topic which was started by Josiah Kwesi Eyison (iSpace) was the idea of collaboration. It seemed that Josiah felt like the British Council were seemingly competitors instead of collaborators in the tech space when it came to training and skills specialization.

Paul Payne of British Council Skills & Innovations Hub

Paul Payne (British Council Skills Hub) made a rebuttal and said that it was not the intention of the British Council to compete with the likes of iSpaceand noted examples of other hubs that the British Council had collaborated in the past. The matter was seemingly resolved and it looks like iSpace and British Council will be collaborating in the future with some upcoming events.

Looks like everybody wins.

During the wrap-up and final thoughts from the panel, Amma Baffoe gave a great message to the audience (which was full of young university students) about what she would have done differently at school with the things she knew now. She said she would have gotten an internship or a part-time job while at school to improve her skills. She would have also taken advantage of more events (including the Career Fair) to network with people in the industry. I think the message hit home with lots of people in the audience nodding in agreement with what she was saying.

Amma Baffoe telling the audience what she would have done differently if she was in university

The Machines are coming for some of our jobs whether we like it or not. From the event, it looks like a way to combat this is to adapt and get with the times. The internet has brought about different ways to learn and upgrade your skills. You can find dozens of videos on the internet about to how to code, how to build and just about do anything. British Council and iSpace are helping with young kids to do more by giving them entrepreneurial skills. Genevieve Puni (RecTrain) also touched on having soft skills. Even though the robots can do a lot of things, there are still going to be a need for people to do analytics on documentation and written reports and also to have leadership skills.

Truth be told, I’m a fan of automation. It makes things more efficient and better. But I am aware of the effects it has especially when it replaces the jobs of humans. But like the panelist, I do believe in upgrading yourself with more skills to avert the coming of the robots. It’s easier now for me to learn how to code, how to write better, how to produce videos and even how to set up this website and create content which you are reading now.

The robots are coming. But it doesn’t mean it’s all gloom. We just have to prepare for it.

This article was first published by Tech Nova Gh

We’re thrilled to announce the highly esteemed speakers for Quantum Leap Career Fair 2017. The inaugural edition of this meeting was held in March 2015 with over 300 participants and 10 companies from sectors such as fashion, education, telecommunication, banking, and technology.

Meet the confirmed speakers.

Keynote Speaker:
• Lucy Quist, CEO, Airtel Ghana


  1. Yasmin Kumi, Founder and Executive Director, Africa Foresight Group
  2. Josiah Kwesi-Eyison, Co-founder, iSpace
  3. Aswin Ravichandran, General Manager, MEST Africa
  4. Paul Payne, Manager, British Council Skills Hub


Keynote Speech Moderator: Alfred Ocansey, News 360, TV3 Ghana

Panel Moderator: Jemila Abdulai, Editor and Founder, Circumspecte

The theme for this forum is Technology and the future of work in Africa”

SFAN recognizes the unprecedented impact of technology on the world of work in Africa, and is organizing this forum to explore the following questions:

  • What key jobs will be impacted by intelligent technologies?
  • What are key strategies employees can use to deal with intelligent technologies?
  • What can a business do about the impact of intelligent technologies in their organization?
  • What are the skills for the fourth industrial revolution?
  • Is Technology a driver of wage stagnation?
  • How is technology changing the nature of work — design, delivery and workplace?
  • Is digital technology a good thing for Africa or a bad thing?

We’re super excited because the atmosphere of this year’s career fair will be supercharged, as some of the best and brightest industry leaders and entry-level job seekers converge to collaborate, learn, exchange ideas and explore the new frontier for the world of work in Africa.

This event also creates a perfect platform for firms to access top entry-level skills. If you are recruiting for entry-level roles, then this is your moment. For more details, please get in touch with us by email.

The event is currently sold-out but you can still participate in the keynote and panel sessions via live stream at SFAN Facebook Page. Please share your views with the hashtag: #QLCAREERFAIR

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