As engineer turns shoemaker, microbiologist becomes clothier…. Why we changed careers after graduation

By Kate Halim

Some people go to the university and leave with their career paths clearly mapped out. Others leave the university and venture into terrains different from what they studied in school. Saturday Sun spoke to some Nigerians who revealed why they are doing something different from their courses of study in the university.

Ebunoluwa Hunpatin hails from Akure, Ondo State. She told Saturday Sun that she studied English Education at the University of Lagos but she’s currently the medical aesthetician at TN’ Skin Club where skin conditions like acne and hyper-pigmentation are treated.

Hunpatin revealed that she wanted to study Law at the university but her cut-off mark wasn’t high enough so she settled for English Education instead. She added that even though she studied English Education, the fact that teachers are not paid well or appreciated enough in Nigeria ensured she never considered teaching as a career.

Hunpatin said she veered into skincare because of her passion for helping people with certain skin conditions. She added that this desire to help people with their skin was due to her having bad skin in the past. She said she had to undergo training to qualify as a medical aesthetician.

The skin care expert confessed that she had always wanted to be an entrepreneur because she likes doing things her way and has the drive and discipline required to run a business.

“I totally love what I do. Some clients become depressed because of severe skin conditions. To help them get their confidence back by treating their skin conditions and still get paid is an awesome feeling. I’m fulfilled as an entrepreneur,” she said.

While Hunpatin loves what she does and makes money from her passion, she said she faces some challenges in her business including dishonest clients, high cost of diesel, fluctuating foreign exchange rates and poor power supply.

Ubah Joy Okhueleigbe is from Anambra State but she was born and raised in Lagos. She said she studied Industrial Microbiology at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State but currently owns a clothing line business called Style with Joyze. According to her, Style with Joyze is a fashion brand that deals with inspiring street wears such as cargo pants, joggers, sweatshirts, sweat pants and the like. She added that her designs are custom-made outfits perfectly tailored to suit all body types and sizes.

The 30-year-old entrepreneur, who loves to travel and discover new places of relaxation, told Saturday Sun that after she left the university, she had the intention to practise for a few years in her field as a microbiologist. But she said she encountered some challenges because she was juggling a lot of things at that time. She stated that she knew being successful in her field of study wouldn’t be possible if she wasn’t mentally ready for it because her field is delicate and requires her full attention. So she delved into the fashion business.

Shedding more light on why she became a fashion entrepreneur, Okhueleigbe confessed that she had always dreamt of having her own establishment since she was a child. “I am a fashion person. Fashion inspires me daily and it’s something I have always wanted to do as a child. I just love to dress up. After the university, securing a job with my certificate was a bit tedious so It wasn’t hard for me to switch careers since it’s something I had always wanted to do,” she said.

The mother of two girls told Saturday Sun that she absolutely loves what she does now. She said doing fashion brings out the life in her, and it is almost as if it was always meant to be. She said she enjoys the entire process of making ready-to-wear clothes from start to finish as well as the satisfaction of being productive while doing what she loves. Okhueleigbe stated that as the creative director of her business, she oversees every stage involved delicately with passion. She added that even though it could be tedious being involved in every aspect of her business, she explained that she derives fulfilment from satisfying her clients at the end of the day.

Hear her: “I am fulfilled as an entrepreneur. I’m happy making money from doing what I love because I am living life on my terms. Doing what I know how to do best, being in control of my own business, and working tirelessly for my brand to stand out gives me a sense of fulfilment daily,” she said.

Mr. Lekan Nurudeen describes himself as someone who never gives up. He said that after he left the University in 2015 after studying Engineering, he decided to do whatever it took to earn a living even if his job would be different from his field of study. “After youth service, I spent the next six months looking for a job related to engineering, but each rejection dashed my optimism of getting paid employment as an engineer. I told myself that I needed to do something to earn a living and I paid a shoemaker close to my house to teach me how to make men’s sandals.”

The Ogun State indigene said he felt belittled initially learning how to make casual men’s sandals from someone who didn’t attend the university, but said he quickly cautioned himself and dedicated months to learning how to make men’s footwear. He added that today, he’s earning a living from making and selling men’s footwear online and in his shop located in Gbagada area of Lagos.

“When some people ask me why I am a shoemaker instead of an engineer, I laugh. I know how much I suffered in Lagos looking for a job and I know how many doors were closed in my face because I didn’t have the connection to get the jobs. Hunger doesn’t know university education. I learned a business skill that is profitable and today, it puts food on my table and provides for my family,” Nurudeen stated.

The story is the same for Doris Onyema who studied Mass Communication at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye but is currently making ends meet as a beautician. She is the CEO of Beauty Switch Makeovers. Onyema told Saturday Sun that she had always been fascinated by beautiful people and had loved making people beautiful since she was a child.

Said she: “I studied Mass Communications in school. I have a diploma from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, but during my industrial training, and in the course of scouting for news, I met a lady, Mrs. Bunmi Oyeniyi who runs Face of Unveil through one of my colleagues in the office. I fell in love with makeup artistry instantly and made up my mind that this is the career I really want to spend my life doing.”

The Imo State indigene said that she enrolled in Mrs. Oyeniyi’s school as a full time makeup student and graduated with honours after a stipulated time. She stated that because of her performance in the school, her boss employed her immediately and made her an instructor at the school. She said that was how her journey as an entrepreneur began and eventually, she set up her own business.

Onyema said: “Sometimes, making money is all about passion and what you derive satisfaction from. I feel fulfilled when I work on a client and they call me later to thank me for a job well done and how people compliment how stunning their makeover looks. Hearing that people love my work and getting my customers refer their friends and family to patronise me is enough for me. It gives me complete satisfaction.”

Even though she studied Mass Communication at the University, Onyema confessed that she loved beauty artistry and she started doing what she is passionate about early enough. She added that she knew she couldn’t work for someone for a long time because her dream is to be independent and have control over her own life.

“Entrepreneurship is great and should be encouraged by family members and the government. I planned my journey early enough because I wanted to be my own boss. Even though it hasn’t been easy being an entrepreneur in this country where you have to provide everything for yourself in terms of electricity and other amenities needed to run successful business, I thank God for his grace,” Onyema said.

Thirty seven-year-old Oladunni Olanrewaju Mary studied English and Literary Studies at the then University of Ado Ekiti, now Ekiti State University. She revealed that after spending years studying hard to be one of the best students in her school, she couldn’t get a job after she graduated. She stated that after spending years looking for a job, she is currently working as a POS agent instead of staying idle and waiting for friends and family to give her money.

“I had dreams to work in an office setting. I didn’t want to work as an entrepreneur but I changed my mind due to work scarcity. Honestly, I can’t say I enjoy what I do presently because the business is saturated and it’s not yielding enough profit. I am not fulfilled being an entrepreneur. I still hope to get a good job so that I can really do what I love.”

Gloria Peters studied History and International Relations at Ambrose Alli University and graduated in 2010. She said that after her youth service, she got a consulting job with a health firm based in Lagos. “After working there for four years, I became dissatisfied with the routine of my job. I worked six days a week and had no social life. I was constantly thinking about the next project to present to my boss and it started telling on me.”

Peters said that after struggling with her job for a while, she resigned to start making money from her passion which is to organize events and throw parties. She recalled that from her teenage years, she had a flair for organizing things at people’s parties. She added that because she loved serving people and making them comfortable at parties, she started her own event planning company in 2018.

“I was afraid when I resigned from a well-paying job due to stress to be an event planner. Even my parents thought it was a bad idea but I knew what I wanted to do and decided to take the plunge into the unknown. Looking back now, I am happy I took that decision. I am my own boss. I have organised a lot of events from corporate events to weddings to birthday parties and I love making people happy,” Peters said. (SUN)


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