The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) can be one of the best experiences for any fresh graduate. In recent years many have argued that the scheme’s significance has been defeated, and thus, the program should be discarded. Some also believe that the scheme is useless and the experience gathered during the NYSC serving year is irrelevant.
There is this subtle downplay of one’s experience during NYSC; when some people are asked if they have any work experience or volunteer experience — they say no because they didn’t see their experience during NYSC as something presentable and can be used as work experience when applying for opportunities.
It would be great to find out how we can maximize this program and make the most of it when applying for opportunities.
National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a one-year post-tertiary education period of volunteer service to the nation. It involves a three-month camp in the state of deployment, employment in a Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), and engagement in Community Development Service(CDS). The NYSC was a post-civil war reconciliatory effort to reunite the nation further.
I have seen a lot of people minimize their NYSC experience. They don’t bring it to the forefront regarding their professional development and experience; some people don’t make a strong case for what they did. That’s because they think that what they’ve done is not worth talking about. But it most definitely is. NYSC exposes you to a series of teaching, research and volunteering experiences. It also exposes you to mentorship and internship opportunities that you can reflect on your resume and use to gain meaningful future opportunities. If one doesn’t have these – which many times is impossible because of the way the system is structured – then one can now say that they successfully wasted their service year. But it won’t be the fault of the program but the person.
Now, if you are yet to serve, you still have an opportunity to make the most of the experience. Below, we will be sharing the various ways these experiences can be intensified and benefit from them.
Teaching and Research Experience: This can be accentuated when applying to graduate school outside Nigeria. I was privileged to work at the university during my NYSC year; some graduate students were assigned to work as Research or Teaching Assistants, and emphasizing this in your statement of purpose (SOP) will help a lot. It shows that you have teaching experience in an educational institution. Other job experiences can also be highlighted for other purposes.
According to Tunde Tash, he states that “You can use your 1-year NYSC experience to claim points in the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Express Entry program to Canada. If you got paid for the full-time employment (≥30hrs/wk), get a reference letter from your PPA, show payslips, bank statements, etc., and claim points for it.”
Volunteering: Volunteering is another factor to consider. One of the most significant values NYSC gives to you is time. The education, health, sustainable development group and agriculture sectors take several corps members. This already gives you the leverage of time and community advantage. Several development organizations are doing great things in these sectors that need volunteers’ services.
Volunteers gain visibility, build valuable relationships, deploy their skills and learn new ones. This is a solid build to your professional portfolio.
Although there may be a lot of excellent candidates for various positions, your volunteer experience can also be emphasized by having wonderful application documents. Volunteering is a very important tool that is used in the camp even before youth corps members are deployed to their primary place of assignment you can volunteer to broadcast or work with the media thereby practicing journalism a bit irrespective of what you studied this way you get exposed to building new skills that will be of benefit to you probably in the nearest future. I noticed that some people don’t emphasize their NYSC volunteering experience in the CDS group on their CVs or even when they wish to highlight their volunteer work. You can weave your story around this experience, and you need to be strategic about it.
You can also start an organization as well. There is already the tendency for most people to listen to you and believe the solution you proffer, especially at the community level. Getting your friends together and thinking up how you can add value to your immediate community is a good leap that you could consider. What about initiating a personal community development project. Many have used this to bring so much value to their immediate community while leveraging on the project in question to rise to career stardom.
Volunteering in communities is major volunteer work, youth corps members get involved with especially enlightening the occupants of the community on Health, Sanitation, Skill Acquisition, Civil rights and duties sex Education, and the importance of education.
Event Organizers and Facilitators: Some are privileged to organize meetings, events, and programs during their NYSC year; this is a great experience you can add to your portfolio. Organizing and facilitating an event is a real-world skill, and it’s in high demand. You can use this knowledge to apply for jobs, graduate volunteer programs or apply for a project management course. The benefit is endless.
Public Speaking: Many get involved with Public Speaking and they seem to forget, that it is a beautiful skill worth mentioning. They get in involved with addressing and educating Schools at all levels (Primary and secondary) there are things like Campus Tours now too.
Mentorship and Internship: Some while serving, have the opportunity to intern for a few weeks mostly in their field of study or something a bit new that could grant them more working experience comes in handy for those who get to serve in firms and the likes. Some get involved with mentorship, mentoring, and coaching students who are interested in their field of study.
Most people take their service year experience for granted, most times they don’t get to talk about it as they do when it has to do with a Career and Personal Development experience. Other people don’t look forward to having such experience their indifferent attitude towards participating clearly shows their nonchalance.
Service year is a good time to leverage the vast opportunities via wonderful volunteering, public speaking and work experiences. Every Nigerian Graduate waiting for service should anticipate such. It is really worthwhile if you give your best and make the most of that period of your life.
You can read more about my NYSC experience here: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/02/nysc-served-as-bedrock-of-my-civic-engagement-journey-%E2%80%95-gender-advocate-roseline-adewuyi/ and https://roselineadewuyi.com/nysc-personal-community-development-project/