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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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You Will Do Odd Jobs Your First Time In America As An African Immigrant


If it is not an office job, I no fit do am for this Nigeria: hin reach obodo oyinbo land, na factory/gbeya-gbebaba jobs hin first do.😂😂

A lot of people came into this country with unreasonable expectations. Here is the thing: I once did both (odd) jobs in my first few years in America, but I had a CLEAR PLAN that clearly paid off. If you are going to survive in America, as an immigrant, you have to be ready to do whatever it takes. Dem no dey borrow person money for this country ooo. If you have a plan, you will survive.

My first job in America paid $8.50/hr. After three colleges and multiple tough examinations, and as a lawyer, I now earn nothing less than $200/hour (and that is a conservative figure).

If the odd jobs will help you to meet your immediate needs, do those odd jobs. Nobody cares. However, don’t stay on that odd job forever. Review your plan every year. There is money in the developed countries, but you need to meet certain criteria to get some good-paying jobs. If you want to earn like your friends doing IT, or like lawyers/doctors/engineers/chemists, you have to get the necessary education, certifications and licenses. You have to do the HEAVY LIFTING.

There is no miracle or a magic wand. The only miracle is to pray for more wisdom to succeed in your academics, research and examinations. Before your program ends, employers will start making offers. Education is not a scam.

If you are a new immigrant, a good education is your ticket to the high table. If you were a professional in Nigeria before coming here, do your best to capitalize on your experience. If you need to augment your experience with certifications or another graduate degree, do so. Your likelihood of success will increase.

Don’t underrate the degrees/professional experiences you achieved in Nigeria. NEVER! Evaluate your degrees. Get a professional resume writer to review your resume (take out all the irrelevant data that they put on resume in Nigeria: for instance, your resume should not include your DOB, religion, number of children, primary school, church-related activities, and other irrelevant things).

Also, clean up your LinkedIn, too, and start by applying through agencies: contract jobs are easier to get than full-time jobs. Start there. Over time, make a play for a full-time job.

If you are still in school here, and towards the end of your program, start attending job fairs, reaching out to employers might help, too. I like how Nigerians at Wayne State University are connecting themselves. A PhD chemistry will land you a six-figure salary after graduation. How is education a scam? Some of my mentees are already earning what they could only dream of years ago, and they only came here less than three years ago. Again, education is your ticket to the high table.

What else do I need to tell you? America and most developed countries value education, skills, and certifications. If you are not armed with these future-focused skills, you won’t suffer, but you will be stuck with minimum-wage jobs (your annual salary increase will be insignificant). To earn more, you will work overtime. And, trust me (I was there), they will use you.

True story: In 2012, two years after I arrived in the U.S., I sued my former employer (a rehabilitation center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities) for wrongful termination. I had finals at school, and I sought a paid-time off, which was approved, only to be terminated upon return. The case dragged on for months, but I won (at the hearing, I tendered a PTO request form, which was signed by my immediate supervisor, as my main exhibit. The said supervisor authenticated the signature, and that was the Eureka moment. I got a lump sum and other remedies, which I invested in my education. This is not the story of all immigrants. If I didn’t win the case, my plan wouldn’t have changed. I was determined to get the best education. I went to school on weekdays, studying hard, and I worked ‘double weekends’ (16 hours on Saturday and Sunday). My new employer then was Resources For Human Development, Pittsburgh, another rehabilitation center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In law school, I had different jobs, too.

Your path might be different. (Talk to experienced people. You are unique. My path is not your path. Information is power. Avoid listening to those who think certain jobs are not meant for “immigrants.” That is their own reality. My/your reality is different.)

Go for the gold: but education is still your ticket to the high table.

I am done pontificating, for now.

Happy Friday!

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