Career potholes and how to avoid them

A road with potholes will force you to reduce your driving speed. In Uganda, you buy a car of 180 kilometres per hour, but

A road with potholes will force you to reduce your driving speed. In Uganda, you buy a car of 180 kilometres per hour, but you hardly find a road where you can drive even at 130 km/hour. Even the Entebbe expressway, you need a very stable car to cruise at this speed!

Anyway, career potholes are limiting. You can make more money or buy more cows, but you cannot manufacture even a second. Time, once you lose it, it is gone for good. For this reason, my career strategy has always been read as much as you can while you are still young. As you grow, it becomes tough to go back to class.

Thanks to technology, people now can acquire more degrees, certificates, and qualifications virtually. And that is where the catch is.

I made several career mistakes. I want to help you learn from my experience. I decided at a young age that I should never be terminated from any job for lack of the requisite qualifications. So, I started a journey of acquiring several qualifications. They are so many, that I rarely add all of them to after my name.

Unlike formal University degrees, membership-based professional qualifications make you continue spending money year after year. Imagine your University requiring you to pay annual membership fees to keep your first degree? Or Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) requiring every Ugandan with their certificate to pay annual fees to keep their Ordinary Level Certificate!

You get the gist. Welcome to neo-colonialism.

It took me over six (6) years to realize that sending money abroad in the name of ‘keeping’ my professional membership is foolish of me. At the time, I held over 5 (five) professional international qualifications. For each of these, I was required to pay over the US $250 annual membership fees. And another US $ annual recertification fee. You pay money to keep the certificate you earned long ago! If you apply the US $350 to five certifications, that is a cool 1,750 US $ or Ugx. 6.5m – a whooping Ugx. 532,292!

I am sure even the International Associations that had trained me kept wondering why this Ugandan cannot open his eyes and see reality: what do we give this folk to justify making an annual subscription?

What did I do?

I put my ego aside. I decided to focus on building critical skills – presentation, execution discipline, integrity and generally doing professional work. I stopped writing professional qualifications after my name.

It is not necessary to say, Mustapha B Mugisa, xx, xx, xx qualifications. It just shows you are not comfortable with Mustapha B Mugisa. I wanted people to respect me for what I can do, NOT the papers or qualifications I have.

I have been disappointed with some people with many degrees and qualifications. You give someone a task, and they just ran away. Yet, they put impressive certificates and degrees on your table and made you excited.

Back to me. After implementing a project, some people start calling me Professor Mustapha B Mugisa. They see me as a professor of practice. I love such a title. It demonstrates expertise. It is earned. And it comes from the client.

Career pothole one to avoid:

Do not put formal qualifications after your name. Focus on building essential skills. It is ok for you to gain skills even if you don’t have a formal certificate.

To be continued…

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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