2021: A necessary reset
I won’t lie 2021 outdid itself in terms of constantly surprising me. Just when I thought things wouldn’t get worse, they did. In the same vein, when I thought it could not get better, it did.
January was bittersweet. I lost my coach and felt hopeless because she held me up the previous year, and I was looking forward to working with her again this year. I’m not even sure when I stopped mourning because that experience derailed me. That same month, I started studying World Politics at the Sciences Po Winter School. It was an intensive class, 3 hours daily for almost three weeks with classmates who had all finished their undergrad degrees, so talk about major imposter syndrome during that period. Half of the time, I was utterly lost. After the lessons, I had to do additional research to supplement the lectures. Still, I’m glad that I passed with flying colours at the end.
During the Spring Semester, I was just fed up with uni. I did not enjoy the classes I was taking and was almost always a lesson or two behind because my World Politics class clashed with the first week of school. I did not want to do assignments anymore, studying was a chore and, I was absolutely drained. There was only one class that kept me going, but I took five courses that semester, so there was only so much it could do. Surprisingly and by God’s grace, I still managed to get on the Dean’s List that semester.
In April, I interviewed with diiVe for their summer consulting internship programme and got the offer, supported by a McNulty Foundation Scholarship. I loved how easy-going my interview was, so I did not hesitate to take the offer. I was not disappointed too! My internship was rigorous, intensive, and very impactful. My team worked on a go-to-market strategy for an EdTech startup, and it took my research and strategy skills to another level. That experience has also opened so many doors for me. I’d forever be grateful and 100% recommend it to anyone looking to get started in consulting.
Before my summer internship, I attended the maiden edition of vGHC EMEA as a student scholar and got to listen to exceptional female technologists globally. The entire experience was very empowering. I also took several product management and consulting courses to pass the time before my internship. I even did a volunteer internship with a startup where I built out a course programme and other supporting activities.
Then came fall, school and recruitment season. This was undeniably one of the most challenging periods of the year. It was the first time I was back on campus ever since the pandemic began in 2020, although all my classes were online. Between school, work-study, programmes and an internship, I just had so much going on but homegirl thought she could juggle everything without a hitch. My life became a dynamic representation of this meme.
I participated in Yielding Accomplished African Women’s Our Girl’s Our Future Talent (OGOF) Accelerator, which started in the middle of August and ended in October. I was on the Machine Learning track and finished my self-paced course pretty fast, which was great because I could focus on schoolwork more. We had so many great speakers, but I think the highlight of the programme for me was my mentor. I was blessed to be matched with a mentor who had a background I could relate to and was ever supportive and encouraging. She’d listen to me rant about life, guide me in charting career paths, share job postings with me and gave me a referral. She even did a mock interview with me on short notice AFTER the programme had ended.
Apart from OGOF, I was selected to participate in a Case Competition hosted by the University of Illinois Gies Business School. My team of 6 people from across four countries emerged 1st out of 9 participating groups with students in Ashesi University and the University of Illinois Gies Business school. Our winning pitch was awarded the highest score of 44/45. The client judges described it as the most pragmatic and feasible strategy presented.
While all of these were going on, I had school work and recruitment to deal with. Schoolwork was challenging this semester; group work, in particular, stressed me more than ever. I had good teammates, but the work dynamic was just terrible initially. So I was often doing more work than I could physically handle. Of course, I suffered the consequences of not being assertive enough; I had several breakdowns and meltdowns and lost my zeal for general schoolwork. A big shoutout to all my friends who had to deal with these breakdowns and helped me get myself together.
Lessons learned for my next and final semester:
- Don’t make yourself available enough to be taken advantage of
- Delegate tasks and follow up constantly, so you don’t end up completing them.
- Don’t spread yourself out too thin; you’re still human
- Their priority should not always be your priority
- Don’t agree to a meeting without a proper agenda: it’ll waste your time
Fortunately, the semester ended on a good note, I could’ve done better, but I went through a lot, so that’s okay.
Unto recruitment, this was not super stressful, to be honest, as I got more efficient with each application submitted. I think this year, I submitted a little under 40 applications for internships, new grad roles, and development programmes. Out of those 40, a number are still under review; I reached the final rounds of 3 and got two internship offers. One for this summer and another for next summer. The latter was super interesting because it was not one of my top targetted positions so I had to spend so much time researching the role, organisation and industry. Fortunately, all my preparation paid off because I received an offer on a strong recommendation and feedback less than a week after my interviews. That was epic. I’m still recruiting for new grad (full-time) roles and interviewing for a few summer positions, so my work’s not done yet.
Overall, my mindset shifted more positively for the latter part of the year. Despite all the rejections and mistakes I made, I never lost hope. I was a beacon of light to many others too. I started a podcast for this reason; to remind people that every part of their journey is essential and that they are never alone. In 2020 I allowed myself to pause and explore every opportunity I found interesting; I ended the year slightly more confused and burnt out. 2021 was a necessary reset that allowed me to be more strategic with decisions and avoid repeating inevitable mistakes. I defined what success meant to me and owned my growth; nobody and nothing could bring me down by the end of the year. It felt somewhat cocky to admit at first, but I’m incredibly confident in my worth and capabilities now; theres’ no two ways about that.
I don’t expect 2022 to be easier. With every opportunity, there are double the challenges. Fortunately, I know that this year has prepared me to face every obstacle headstrong. I'm ready to stand my ground and fight for my victories next year.
Post Credit Scenes by Popular request
By popular request meaning Kweku pestered me to do this :)
Special thanks to all these amazing people in no particular order:
- "Kweku Yamoah: My fooling partner in all crimes" in his own words
- Jesse's butt for keeping me smiling (sorry Jesse, Kweku made me do it but it's true🤭)
- My girlfriends:
- Norma and Maureen: always helpful, always present, super supportive. This year was our bonding year.
- Naayi: I love you but I didn't see you the whole year🥲
- Princess: You didn't annoy me as much and you did amazing things this year so I give you a pass.
- Kofi for allowing the Tapoli tradition to move on, for all the visits and for putting up with my antics.
- Sharon, your constant support was everything!
- Manuel for doing all the heavy lifting on my podcast because you didn't teach me.
- My family for allowing me to run away from school when I couldn't take it anymore.