• The e-discussion revealed that it took participants varying lengths of time to get their first job. It took Nduta, a student at KwaZulu-Natal University (originally from Kenya), seven years to get a stable paying job after high school. During those seven years, she volunteered for an organization that works with vulnerable children in Nairobi’s slums. This experience taught her not to give up.
• Volunteerism and internships emerged as important approaches to securing a first job, by enabling individuals to gain experience and develop networks. Fortune from Nigeria shared her path; she started as a trainee in an information and communication technology (ICT) training and education centre and worked her way up from there. Now, after several years of work experience, she is about to begin a Master of Science degree programme. Fortune’s advice: “the work you do for free today will equip you for the income you will earn tomorrow.”
• Respondents emphasized that getting a job requires a lot of dedication and patience. Eva, 21, from Spain had just found a job and described how the combination of a good CV, promoting her blog, sending many applications and “insisting and showing confidence” finally secured her a job with a hotel chain.
• Young job seekers shared that it was very important to have social networks, as these linked individuals with jobs as well as information-sharing. For Ayshah, 26, from Kenya, social networks were what enabled her to secure her first job as a promoter in a supermarket after she had “applied everywhere” without success. Fortune from Nigeria had a less positive experience. She explained how there are many barriers contributing to people’s struggles with job searching: their level of education, the “excessive obsession for qualifications and certifications” and the fact that “jobs tend to be restricted within informal social networks (familial and friendship ties).” However, she reminds us:
“In as much as we look out for opportunities, we must also note that opportunities can be created; volunteering is one very useful way of creating opportunities for oneself. Opportunities exist even beyond the confines of a person's national borders. This is why the internet is very useful today. I cannot deny the fact that most of the opportunities that have come my way in terms of learning, networking and self-development are largely attributable to the internet and how I have explored it over the years (actively for about a decade now).”