I came across this quote on the Instagram feed of one of my favourite pages for career advice – themuse. Like it says on their homepage, you will find everything you need to succeed from dream jobs to career advice. I had unintentionally applied this ‘principle’ when I needed to transition from my consultancy job late last year. Although it may sound like this was a no-brainer, it took me about 3 weeks of writing down pros and cons, prayers, and self-pep talks to finally apply for the position I now have. Let me backtrack a bit. You know the restlessness I talk about in raison d’étre ,that feeling was amplified by the discomfort I had started to feel as far as work was concerned. I once read somewhere that ‘when God wants you to grow, he makes you uncomfortable’ and this is a fact. I could sense that change was in the air and I was not happy about it. In any case, as we approached the last quarter of the year, it became apparent that it was time for me to move on to another position. And as someone who has applied to more positions that I can care to recollect, this was hard. I had thought I could finally take a much-needed break from the job hunt and enjoy being a working professional for a few years. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, so I reluctantly began the search for a new position. A month into the job hunt a friend sent me the link to my current position (Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor, sounds fancy doesn’t it?) – the project was a dream. Here’s a description:
Work closely with the Ghana Health Service to strengthen its efforts to reduce child and maternal deaths, reduce unmet need for family planning, reduce childhood mortality and morbidity from malaria, and improve nutritional status for children under five and pregnant women. We are working to strengthen vital health system building blocks while promoting CHPS (community-based health planning and services), strategic behaviour change communication, and targeted demand generation to maximize service delivery coverage.
This might not sound very exciting to you but if you know me or have followed my public health journey, you’d know that I couldn’t have asked for a better project to be a part of. However, there was a catch. I didn’t feel remotely qualified for the position. The only requirement I could confidently say I had was a master’s degree in public health and if you insisted, I would say I had strong writing and oral communication skills but that was about it. If I put together my public health related work and really stretched it, I could claim a year and half worth of experience when they were asking for a minimum of five. Additionally, the position wanted someone who had a strong knowledge of the Ghana Health Service SOP in health information management. The more I read through the job posting, the less qualified I felt, so while I left the tab open on my internet browser, I didn’t give much thought to it until the day before the stipulated deadline. In a moment of false bravado, I decided to apply. You can only imagine my surprise when I got a call (or was it an email) from the HR manager saying I’d been shortlisted. What followed was a 2-hour assessment to test my data analysis skills in Excel (I know, that was a different kind of stressful) followed by 2 interviews. I remember texting a friend of mine after the first interview and telling him I wasn’t sure how I felt about the interview. While I thought I had answered the questions to the best of my ability and with confidence which I can only described as from above, I just didn’t feel like it went well. But the Lord came through for his daughter and I was offered the position. A permanent position. With benefits. The full monty. Favour, God’s favour, is real you guys. That’s the only logical explanation of why I’m here today despite the odds.
I’ve been in this position for a little over 5 months now and I can’t tell you how blessed I feel. I work with an amazing team of people who are always willing to explain concepts I’m having a hard time grasping, double check my analysis and are supportive. I still have days of impostor syndrome and feel the need to prove that I am worthy of this position but I’m working on it. This position has also given me to opportunity to travel to parts of the country I wouldn’t otherwise visit (I’ll write another post about the places I’ve had the opportunity to visit for field work). I have met brilliant, committed health care workers who are passionate about their jobs and making differences in their communities even in resource limited settings. I have also picked up a lot of random medical and health related information – which is always a good icebreaker 😊
All of this is to say: don’t let feeling unqualified or not ready stop you from taking steps to pursuing your dreams because you might be pleasantly surprised at how things turn out. So, what is that leap of faith you need to take? Go ahead and do it. I’ll be cheering you on.
Until next time. Ciao