A post from a Twitter user saying that he was jobless and ready to accept a GHC700-salary job, prompted Lemuel Nsiah-Kusi, a graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to share his touching story in a series of tweets.
Lemuel, who graduated from KNUST with a degree in Development, in his series of tweets, shared the story of how he took up a job as a cleaner for 6 months before he finally got something close to his dream job! His tweets caught the attention of lifestyle blogger, Naa Oyoo Quartey, who arranged a meeting with Lemuel to get more insight into his story of perseverance and hard work. Here are some highlights:
Lemuel completed his National Service at SSNIT in 2014 and found himself at home and felt uneasy after almost 2 months of doing nothing.
“During the period of September to November, I had put in about 70 applications to several organizations but nothing positive came out of them. I emailed some soft copies to family friends and I went personally to some organizations to submit hard copies. My parents were also asking their friends for any openings and assistance. My parents would go to work and I would be left alone and when they returned home they would inquire about my day and if I had had any success with any of the applications. I would reply in the negative. My Dad for one was very confident that I would get a job after school because of his strong network connections. That actually didn’t work.”
According to him, Development Planning is interdisciplinary which makes it flexible to work anywhere, and so he was ready to start out to gain experience to enable him branch out into his area of interest. So he started looking for jobs from all angles.
“One time I was close to getting a marketing job at an IT company. I passed the first round after convincing the panelists that I was good with people. It was a strength I could use to get customers to buy their product. I however didn’t make it through to the second round.”
After many disappointments, Lemuel started losing hope during that dreadful waiting period. His parents couldn’t understand why he was stressing as others before him had to wait a year or two before getting jobs.
Finally hope came, but it was not what Lemuel expected when his dad’s friend who was in the real estate industry as a facility management service provider asked him to come see her.
“So I dressed up immaculately because my mother always advised me to be mindful of how I dressed irrespective of where I went. I wore a tie with my long sleeves shirt and made sure my shoes were well polished. I gave her my resume after I sat down in her office. I have always done internships during vacation periods, which over the period made my cv quite interesting for a first-degree holder. I had done several stints as a sales rep after JSS, SHS and even in the University, I interned in several companies and hotels. So after she perused my resume, she said, ‘I have an opening in cleaning if you are interested’. My initial thought was, ‘Did you not see my CV?’ This was what I asked in my mind not out loud. Was she joking? I realized she was serious so I asked for some time to think about it. Even though she Okayed my request, she reminded me not to keep long because the position could soon be filled.”
When he went home and told his Dad what happened, his father was shocked. But after some initial hesitation, Lemuel shocked his father when he decided to accept the job offer. He started the cleaning job by first going for cleaning training at the cleaning company to understand the basics of how to clean effectively.
“I learnt how to measure the various detergents, how to clean windows, which equipment to use etc. The training took place at the Barclays Club House because my employer had a contract with the bank to clean some of their branches in Accra. I met another KNUST graduate who worked as an Operations Manager in this same cleaning company. He also faced a similar dilemma of not finding a job after school and ended up in this role in the cleaning company. For us, this wasn’t the end. It was a means to an end and that was the advice he gave to me on the first day of the job. That’s what got me running because I realized I wasn’t alone in this.”
The cleaning was not as easy as it sounds, and soon Lemuel was moved to be with the team which cleaned the NHIA office , where he was also in search of miracle because the office was a good place to work.
“It was challenging. I had to leave home at 4:30am everyday because the NHIA office opens at 8am and I had to commute from West Hills Mall, which is where I stay. We had to finish cleaning latest by 7am. In the beginning, I was motivated but because of this crazy dawn schedule I began to lose vim after about 3 weeks. The thing is, after cleaning we had to stay behind for the evening shift and there was no appropriate room for us to hang around in. There was a room beneath the stairwell, which was used as a storage space, which we often waited around in. It wasn’t comfortable at all. I also came to realise how it felt to work in the cleaning industry in Ghana. I was placed in a position, which made me realize how people talk to cleaners and how they treat them because of the work they do. It was humbling as I got to understand life from the point of view as a cleaner. One time, an employee at NHIA happened to say hello to me and she was surprised to learn I was a graduate from Tech. After a few months, I was promoted to be a Supervisor, which saw me managing the team to make sure the offices were clean and such.”
In addition, another major challenges was not receiving his salary on time. He was paid GHC500 a month and sometimes, it would delay for about two months. He had to ask his father for transport money.
From learning on the job, Lemuel saw an opportunity to start something on his own.
“My time in the cleaning company made me realize how profitable the business was. I was gaining more experience on the job, so I decided to also start my own cleaning company. I registered the business name, hired some young people in my area to clean some offices on the side. So I managed this whilst working at the cleaning company. My Mom’s friend spoke to a friend of hers to sub-let some of her cleaning services to me and it was a way to generate money for the business.”
According to him, some friends didn’t believe I was actually cleaning banks and offices. He occasionally run into some schoolmates while on duty and when he told them he was cleaning most did not believe him. In fact most said they could never work as cleaners.
“I have always been a confident person but there were a few times when I felt low. I prayed a lot during this time, which helped me. Interestingly, my prayer life increased more during this time. I found myself connecting to God more. My parents also encouraged me through it all too.”
There was some light at the end of the tunnel for Lemuel when his mom’s friend, who helped him with his cleaning business, gave him a contact to call. The number belonged to a CEO of a real estate company, who was impressed with the story of Lemuel.
“I called the number she gave me but the man who picked up was curt and said he was busy but he would call me back. I got a text from him a week later to come by his office. I dressed up as though I was going for a interview and got to his office at 7am. I then got a call from the cleaning office to go clean an office in another area. I left that office and showed up at work in a tie and everyone wondered what was up with me. After cleaning, I changed back and went to the man’s office. His secretary allowed me to go see him as I had waited about 3 hours in the morning. This was the CEO of a real estate company and all he asked me was ‘You be hustler? You fi hustle?’ I said yes. What did I study? Did I know anything about construction? He didnt even ask for my resume. He made a call to one of the construction managers to give me a job because he liked my matter. I then signed a contract with his HR manager. I had gotten a job without even an interview and the pay of course was much better and it was also aligned with my field of study. It was an incredible feeling! The catch however was for me to start work the next day. So now I had to figure out a way to work as a cleaner I waited for my delayed salary to be paid and then I quit the cleaning company.”
After recounting his inspiring story, Lemuel believes that everyone’s life journey is different so irrespective of where you find yourself don’t see challenges as an end. If someone offers to pay you GHC 700 work as though you were being paid GHC 4,000. Your hard work will make such an impact that when it’s time for you to leave, people will be reluctant to see you go.
“Yeah, we all want to earn good money but we need to consider the opportunities that come our way and the realities of life. You need to go out there and make your own decisions. Build your own dream and work for it. There are some graduates who get mobile banking jobs and all they do is complain that “ehh, a whole graduate like me, I dey go walk for sun top.” They don’t know what opportunity they could be missing out on whilst in the field. This is part of the grind of life. “