When I joined the University of Nairobi to study Land Economist (Was initially admitted for Building Economics and later Transferred to Land Economics), I wasn’t so sure what this course was all about. From the upcountry village where I grew up, not many had career paths and were available to give mentorship to the young. We all sang the song of when I grow up I want to be a pilot, I want to be a doctor, I want to be an engineer… all because this is what we would hear others say and would form our dreams as well. Eventually, the grading system before seating for the KCSE exams, we were made to choose courses with little information about the careers or professions they would lead to, we would speculate amongst ourselves as to what they meant and would choose courses that seemed to be worded in the line one would wish to pursue. I have kept insisting that this is one major shortcoming of the secondary education system in Kenya.
In The University, the course was not so much among the hardest to pursue and neither was it so easy as well. We spent several nights ‘trans-night’ at ADD (Architecture Design and Development) Building keeping the architectural students’ company for the few days of our night vigils while it was their way of life, they even had cooking stoves moved to cook their meals from their work studios. However, for the larger parts of the semester, we were the ordinary B.A. students eating life with a big spoon albeit being overly broke the larger part of the semester.
Some of us would venture out to try to be productive, visit UN offices, World Bank offices, the NSE trading floor in a bid to try and ‘get connections’ for the ‘after university’ tarmacking phase. The visits gave a fair share of experiences with some getting lucky to land internships with the multinationals; some being engaged in students’ programs that would then shape their future careers. I know of some folk who engaged with politicians and are now deeply in firebrand politics. Like they told us the first day the SONU officials addressed us, it was upon an individual to cultivate for the second silent unawarded degree above the degree one was admitted to. This second silent degree they said meant being able to throw a stone in a way that it could navigate a corner, facing the anti-riot police and sleeping on the tarmac of ‘our’ University Way, eating Kenchic for free among others. For those who interrogated and tried to have a better and positive perspective of the issue of the second degree, the returns were high. They became the hustlers who would buy their first cars just months after graduation or land plush placements even before the graduation date. Life was what you chose. I will be sparing time for more of these University tales in other blogs.
In the employment field, being a land economist is a satisfying job albeit not being as high paying as most think. You are made to painfully pay for the little trans-nighting you did in the University. So many nights are spent on your laptop trying to finalize reports, undertaking analysis, and giving professional opinions. Remember, real estate is a secondary market, and therefore in most cases a luxury good/service. Clients are therefore not keen to pay or make it a priority in their budgets. To get paid, you first have to do the professional work then undertake the second assignment of collecting your payment!!