Sunday, 1 November 2009

She’s got a job for you…

Tell us about yourself
I am Adekunbi Adeoye; a 500 level Law student at the Obafemi Awolowo University. I’m currently the Executive Director of Sesewa Support Services — we call it SSS.
And Sesewa?
Sesewa is a Yoruba coinage, Se ise wa, which simply means ‘is there a job?’ The whole idea is to provide jobs in form of internships for the Nigerian youth, who we believe, have the ability to become agents of change in the society and the world at large.

When and how did Sesewa begin?
The Sesewa concept was birthed in 2006, but we didn’t start operation until last year. However, it was officially launched on February 21, this year. It began at a time when I tried to find internships in companies I thought would give me a platform to express myself and learn more. I had been to several companies that didn’t even understand what I meant by internship and even those who did, did not seem to have any structure in place to let me in. Without a shadow of doubt, I knew the impact of what interning would do for me and so I decided to help young people like me gain experience as well as help companies see the benefits of allowing interns into their organisation.

Why would you decide to do this for others? What was the pull?
Well ... Quite a lot of things. I realised the Nigerian youth was the greatest recipient of most of the problems that have befallen the country. The quality of education is deteriorating and the Nigerian youth is seen by the corporate world as being unproductive and unemployable. Amongst all these is the lack of employability skills in the Nigerian youth, which border on lack of effective communication, lack of ability to identify problems and proffer its solutions and the lack luster use of information technology. The Nigerian youth must be ready to build something on something and not wait for things to come to them, it’s time we understood the need for process and self-development.

And you’re a student – how have you managed the two?
It’s not been particularly easy as I’ve had to juggle between classroom and attending several meeting but for me, it is an opportunity to practise what I preach and be a role model for other Nigerian Youth.

Does Sesewa focus only on undergraduates?
No, and that is because our internship opportunities are open for fresh graduates who are undertaking youth service but for now that’s the farthest we go.

And surely there’ve been challenges?
Oh yes…like every other organisation, we have faced several challenges but I’ve learnt to see them as stepping-stone. We are faced with companies who don’t have any structure for internships; and who don’t see the need for interns in their organisations. We are faced with an educational system that doesn’t provide any structures either except for the engineering departments, which have Industrial training, attached to their school curriculum, and also the epileptic calendar of universities has proved to be a major challenge. We are also faced with students, who do not understand the importance of process or the fact that there is a price to pay for being successful. Also our first major task is putting internships on the map of Nigeria; it is our responsibility to help these companies realise that internships is the way to improve professionalism and give the Nigerian youth work experience.

So how exactly does this happen?
We achieve this by placing students in organisations to work and gain firsthand experience, we also have a part of our organisation — Sesewa Volunteers which, serves as an intermediary between non-governmental organisations and undergraduates who want to volunteer and contribute positively to their society. We also have career fairs where we bridge the gap between jobseekers and corporate organisations thereby giving the job seeker the opportunity of knowing what is needed to achieve career success. The corporate organisation has the opportunity to open up their horizon and rather than get married on a blind date, which employing a person via their curriculum vitae is, there is an opportunity to meet their prospective employees.

Do you have organisations on ground already partnering with you to provide jobs for your interns?
Yes, we have several organisations partnering with us. These partners stem from different fields: from small businesses, to major corporations, nonprofit organisations and etc. We also welcome more organisations to partner with us.

There are loads of job agencies in Nigeria now, both real and fake; what makes Sesewa different from all of them?
Our unique selling point is our training. Before you become a Sesewa ambassador, you must have gone through the training school, which gives you the opportunity to be trained on the essentials of working in a corporate environment. Through our specially designed modules, we will inculcate in each trainee the essentials of working in a group to achieve a set objective, the ability to further increase their learning ability and capacity to recognise problems and to effect its solutions.

How do you manage with publicity and creating awareness?
We have done some form of awareness through the Internet via media such as Facebook and through our site. We have also written to several organisations, our presence in some universities has also created some form of awareness. However, we hope to have a presence in every Nigerian university.

What is the long-term plan for Sesewa?
According to International Labour Organisation, 6.4 million Nigerians are looking for jobs, which is very dangerous considering the poverty level in the country. The Sesewa initiative hopes to reduce this alarming statistics by training the youths on the basics that are required to fit into any work place and raising a better, prepared and preferred youth who would be ready and able to take on the challenges of the corporate world.

The Future Awards ... In search of the young scientists
FOR the first time in its five-year history, the organisers of the Future Awards have introduced a Best Use of Science category in addition to the Best Use of Technology category that has over the years produced technology innovators, advocates and entrepreneurs such as United Nations IT Ambassador ‘Gbenga Sesan.
Announcing the category, its Creative Director, Chude Jideonwo, said, “for many years, what we have done is try to mirror the breakthroughs that young people have made in different fields and to sustain them. However, this year, we decided we have reached a level where we can take this further and stimulate activity in the field of science as well as draw attention, and ultimately support, to that small random army of young Nigerians across the country who are working in spite of the debilitating lack of structure in science - with innovation or invention.”
Nominations for the awards began on October 1 and will continue till November 30. Nominees must be Nigerian citizens and must be aged 18 – 31. If you want to nominate anyone, all you need to do is go to the website, click the ‘Nominate’ link and fill in information about the nominees’ work and why you think he/she should win. You will also find The Future Awards link at
According to the website, explaining the broad criteria for this category, “word out there is that there are not a long people interested in science, and with our academic environment seemingly wired against development in science, it is difficult to find young people with solid achievement in this area. But we don’t agree: under the broad categories of physics, chemistry and biology, we know there are a critical number of young Nigerians who are advancing impressive, practical innovations that can compare with the best around the world. This might also involve innovation or entrepreneurship in science.”
Other categories for the Awards this year include Best Use of Advocacy, Actor of the Year, Best Use of Technology, Business Owner of the Year, Comedian of the Year, Creative Artist of the Year, Journalist of the Year, Magazine of the Year, Model of the Year, Musician of the Year, Music Producer of the Year, On-air Personality of the Year (Radio), On-air Personality of the Year (TV), Professional of the Year, Screen Producer of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year, Team of the Year, the biggest for Young Person of the Year, and a new category fort Excellence in Public Service.
“We are also beaming the search light on public service,” Jideonwo said, while explaining the Excellence in Public Service category. “Again, for the same purpose as the Best Use of Science. Our awards seek to encourage young people to think of ideas outside of government, outside of convention and to add value that way. However, we acknowledge that it is counter-productive to ignore government, and it will be helpful if we have people in public service who have integrity, believe in productivity and apply new modern thinking to problem solving. Those are the kind of young people we want under the Excellence in Public Service category. Please go to”

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