May 24, 2020: From her very first job in a petroleum firm to her current role at Ashesi, one thing has remained constant with Akua Ampah ’13 — helping peers and others build skills to help them excel in their career.
“When I entered the working world after Ashesi, I realized a lot of my peers did not receive the benefit of a dedicated Career Service department in their institutions,” shared Akua, who read Business Administration at Ashesi. “They had a lot more to learn than I did — updating and fine-tuning their CVs, building experience through internships, and more — so I found myself almost always helping out.”
Eventually, Akua took up a role in Career and Internship Placements at Lancaster University, Ghana, where she formally started on a journey in career counseling and coaching.
Ironically, it was while helping provide these services for her students that she realized that only a few across Ghana had access to proper career guidance or coaching.
“Many of my students regularly invited friends from other schools to talk to me, from schools that did not provide such counseling services,” shared Akua. It was based on this insight, that she started Virtual Career Office, a website to provide career development content for young students and graduates.
Taking on a National Problem
In 2018 Akua joined Ashesi’s Career Service department, where she has been responsible for providing career coaching for first-year students and also driving the university’s mentorship and job shadowing programs that connects students with industry professionals.
Over time, her work at Ashesi and her website caught the eye of teams at the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO), a government-led initiative to help address graduate unemployment. In 2019, she was invited by NABCO to lead and facilitate career-development workshops which formed part of capacity-building programs they held for some 100,000 trainees across the country.
“The experience brought my work into an even stronger perspective,” she shared. “I met a wide range of people, from recent graduates to people who had been out of work for several years. It helped me appreciate the kind of preparation I received at Ashesi and also helped me come to terms with the gaps within the broader educational system in Ghana. Many of the job seekers I have met could access several opportunities if they had the preparation to do so and knew how to position themselves to recruiters. Career coaching should certainly not be a privilege, restricted to only a few schools.”
Earlier in 2020, Akua’s work earned her selection as a WISE Emerging Leader. The yearlong fellowship aims to cultivate the next generation of systems leaders in education and provide the tools, skills, community, and mindset required to transform their communities and change systems.
“Some communities will probably never get people to prepare them for their careers and provide guidance along the way,” shares Akua, who is laying the groundwork for a career guidance program to help individuals in underserved communities. “I hope this opportunity will position me to play a key role in filling that gap, especially here in Ghana.”
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