Text: Jerome Atugonza

The power and authority to choose a career path wholly depends on you. Psychologists say we make decisions based on what we have been through, what we have heard and the kind of atmosphere we have been exposed to while growing up.

Young men and women who are technologically advanced and exposed are found of using the word gig (a side job you currently doing for a client that involves using your skills, knowledge).

To survive the competitive edge calls for standing your ground against all odds and pursue a career that you believe will not only change your life, but the lives of those around you.

Rukmini Bonthala has lived in Uganda for over 25 years. Her past life experience made her become a Health & Wellness Coach, Yoga teacher and a Raw Food Chef.

Her life journey began while living in United States, with eagerness to become her own boss, she pursued a Masters degree in Business Administration; however, during the last semester at University, she suffered from a debilitating health challenge that forever changed her life.

Left with two options: taking steroids for 6 months or a less-travelled path of choosing Ayurveda (an Alternative Natural Healing Modality). She chose the latter and embarked on the journey to heal herself, her health greatly improved. After her recovery she discovered that she was not alone battling indisposition of different kinds that could healed using the same methods.

Inspired by her own healing journey, she developed a passion to empower others thus, she became a Health Coach and a Raw Food Chef coupled with teaching Yoga as an alternative type of exercise to achieve mental support, and the physical aspects of fitness and diet. Armed with these three certifications she has helped several hundred people in Uganda through her one-of-a-kind Detox Programs based on lifestyle, nutrition and elimination that has no deprivation or starvation. Of late shes working with diabetic patients helping them balance their blood sugar levels by just using dietary nutrition which has yielded tremendous results.

Rukmini conducts regular cooking classes where you are taught healthier methods to prepare food under the right conditions. Health is in your hands, which gives you the freedom to choose she said.

Her father desperately wanted her to study medicine, though she resisted and initially followed her love for education. The ailment suffered while at the university was a turning point that changed her life, I had compassion to help other people, thanks to the rough moment of healing, I might not have sympathized with anyone going through devastating life illnesses she said

Choosing a career

We are all seeking happiness in life, Its ideal to choose a profession that builds a drive and makes you feel you are fulfilling a purpose she advised

Education is a never-ending cycle with the world evolving at a fast velocity in various industries. The technology that worked back in the early 1990s has been taken over by the advanced technology that has created a massive paradigm shift.

Money is important, but following what makes you happy will definitely attract the money Rukmini said. With an 8-5pm job, she managed to build her side business. How? She employed word of mouth, heavy promotions on social media channels and putting up stalls during exhibitions.

Laura Wando who works at an NGO focusing on reproductive health and HIV prevention with the mission to advance sustainable community health, was once a volunteer teaching in Ghana in an all-girls school years ago. She noticed the horrifying predicaments her students faced, for example, sexually transmitted infections, sexual harassment and teen pregnancies presented a hopeless situation.

To combat Africas health issues, she decided to study a Masters in Public Health with concentration on International Health and Development and Reproductive Health. Her job landed her in Uganda, one of the countries with the highest Total Fertility Rate and Maternal Mortality rate in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Why Public Health

Lauras two years in Ghana put her under a spell and she fell in love with the African community. Coming from a country of privileged cheap access to medical care, she observed a culture shock in Africa that activated her desire to campaign for change to improve the health and equality of women.

Apart from being a health worker, she is a birth doula and birth photographer. I delivered both of my children in the USA and the busy schedule of my husband was not favorable for his presence, so I hired a lady to be my birth companion (birth doula). She said.

As her personal project, Laura fell in love with the concept of providing birth support to women, and went for further training as a birth doula and a birth photographer. Slowly shes introducing the idea of trained labor companions in Kampala.

Choosing a career

Meet with people in that specific niche that you want to follow, ask about their education background, certifications they obtained, and how they got to where they are today. Dont feel you have to stick with only one path in life, your life experiences will mold, and be willing to take risks she said.

The amazing bit about career selection is that life offers you the bucket list of options as a navigation tool to help you select what you feel best suits your potential.

Charlotte Beauvoisin, has many skills. Shes a travel blogger, conservation volunteer and freelance marketing manager specialized in promoting travel and tourism in Uganda. She has combined a degree in Politics and a Professional Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and self-taught skills in managing social media with the zeal to travel and volunteer in places in need of her skills. Uganda was the ideal destination to showcase her skills.

Following your dreams

Find your passion. This will push you to work hard and smart; you will be in a position in work long hours. Her advice to young job-seekers is stop waiting for the right job for it may never come. This principle applies in all countries not just only Uganda. For every job you get, endeavor to pick a skill or two from it, even if the job is not what you really want to do. You never know: that very skill maybe a door-opener to your dreams she added.

Anja Rakoarimanana from Madagascar is a French teacher. She is a former civil service librarian passionate about the French way of life. With great communication skills and the desire to help the people of her country, she thought it best to become a doctor, but that didnt come to pass. To bridge the gap, she realised that becoming a French tutor would be a great opportunity to teach French, and experience new horizons.

Thomas Mbusa Letakamba a Congolese national has enjoyed the perfect weather of Uganda for 5 years now. Currently the president of the Radio France International club Kampala which promotes the French language and human rights, he, together with a dedicated tea, has now opened up various French-speaking clubs in several schools..

A former student of international relations and a youth worker back in his home country, training students in multiple hands-on skills, he advises that anyone with a desire to follow their career goals should be focused. You must persevere to become a good worker at what you think and believe you are good at, he said. Thomas holds a Masters degree in French language from the University of Artois, and is now a French lecturer at the Alliance Franaise de Kampala.He credits the Radio France International Club for helping him achieve his dream.

Moving to a new country calls for adjustments. The people you meet might speak the same language as you do, but this doesnt mean they follow your beliefs and cultural norms. To better fit into any given environment and take advantage of the available opportunities calls for learning the language, finding ways to network with local people, being culturally sensitive and finding your unique contributions regardless of your background.

A further discussion with a career coach, Annabel Bowerman, revealed quite profound insights that cant be left out. Innovation has left the impression that everyone has to play catc- up. To stand out from the crowd, the essential is to remain flexible, develop both the hard and soft skills in your current chosen profession so essential to success and to a high EQ or Emotional Quotient (as opposed to IQ). These include good communication skills, the capacity to self-reflect and to be able to empathize with others.

She advised that: always believe that you can be one of the few that will make it, watch out for any opportunity to get ahead and take it, work hard and persevere.

Strategizing is part of life and being cautious falling prey to wrong decisions or mistakes that have been made by those you look up to. Look at your strengths, find a fit with a suitable career, find people in that area to speak to, find out more from real life practitioners, find the best training you can afford, be ready to do an unpaid internship, and always do your best! Also, there is a career counselling theory called the Happenstance theory that says that careers are often formed through chance encounters, doors opening unexpectedly and such like always be on the look-out for these opportunities, and seize them she said.