By Samson Irmiya, Nigeria – 4.2 CEAS, Computer Science
It is hard to sum up a year’s worth of experiences that taught me, developed me and forever changed my approach to the world of work, but I feel such realities should be shared with the student community to aid in their preparation for one of the most critical parts of their academic journey. I secured a place at Minerva Risk Advisors which is a leading insurance firm in the country’s capital and nationwide. I worked in the ICT Department doing hardware maintenance, software configuration, data processing and networking.
As an international student, I was going into my first work experience in my adopted country of Zimbabwe and I cannot lie, I was anxious, especially regarding how my work mates would relate to me. Africa University is unique in that it lives the Pan- Africanism that it preaches and is intentional in including it in all aspects of campus life, but now I was away from the heart of this ethos for the very first time. I quickly realized that these inhibitions were all imagined and I was embraced like any other member of the community.
Where I stumbled, I had a friendly hand to help me up, where I was unsure, sound advice and guidance encouraged me to go forth, and where correction was required, while firm, it was always done with good intentions and a positive spirit of learning. I will forever remain grateful for the hospitality shown to me and will constantly reiterate that Zimbabwe is a truly remarkable country. Its people are beyond kind and accommodating and not once did I feel out of place or like a fish out of water.
Some of my most rewarding times were where I was able to make usable and sustainable contributions to the organization. I realized that while we may be inexperienced, we still have a lot to give to the places where we are attached. We bring a fresh perspective and a new way of looking at problems and finding solutions. One must always venture to make themselves an asset wherever they are. I was asked to draft an intern’s operational manual that was one of my impact objectives to better align and assist departments in the training and meeting of experiential learning goals for new recruits. Additionally, having an eye for and being able to design was an additional skill I picked up working as a Student Ambassador at Africa University, and it served me at Minerva as I also assisted in this regard within the IT department in the development of training manuals, policies and standard operating procedure briefs.
The company also gave me room for personal development giving me greater insight into the inner working of the insurance industry and training me to certificate level through the Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe. While I am majoring in Computer Science, I now have knowledge on the insurance industry which will likely inform my dissertation as I develop IT solutions to issues within that sector. What this taught me is that learning never stops, a broad understanding of multiple disciplines reinforces and enhances knowledge and can open doors to opportunities you never imagined.
I had a fantastic time working for Minerva and I am now completing my degree with the confidence that I am ready for the world and more than able to make real contributions to my country and its development.