The last two weeks, we have been discussing how you can shift your career away from your original academic ground depending on market conditions or opportunities on the table. We discussed two case studies involving a biochemist and an economist both from West Africa and both transitioned into the information technology (IT) profession. The biochemist, who now works as a senior database engineer at a bank in Ghana, has kindly accepted to share his full story. Below is the letter from Ghana.
Dear Rise and Shine readers,
My life as a biochemist has been tough. Upon completing my tertiary education and acquiring a bachelor of science in biochemistry, I felt the world was small to conquer with the skills I had gotten from school.
After completing my national service, the race to get a job in my field of expertise started. However, I was shocked that after two years, I could not find a job. This was hard to believe. You can imagine the ridicule I had to go through from friends and family!
In my despair, I remembered a lecturer in the IT Department who once told me: “You have an unusual skill in understanding database and IT as a whole. Can you consider it for a career because seeing you in my class and labs make me proud?”
After this realisation and a little help from family, I enrolled in a computer hardware and networking class. After two weeks, the lecturer handed the class over to me since he had outstanding classes to prepare our seniors for examinations. I gladly took charge of the class and really had fun teaching them the stuff I learnt privately. He came back and realised the class was in top sharp form and he was delighted.
But I was still looking for a job in the biochemistry field. I remember everyday crying on my way back home after going around searching for a job.
After three years of searching, I got a job. The salary was not worth anything, but I took it all the same. A proverb in our native language says: “A bad job is better than stealing”. There, I learnt how to develop little applications in visual basic and access through self-tuition.
With time, I realised that I loved IT more. And so, I decided to move into IT full time. I spoke to my wife about the huge gamble I wanted to take. I needed to take all our savings at that time to pursue a programme in database administration. This was a bitter pill for her, but she told me: “How much more can a dead man die.” So she agreed.
I started the programme and I quickly excelled. I was in a class full of IT degree holders which was a push for me to work harder than usual. One day, the lecturer called me at home to inform me that I should take his class and gave me the topics for the day. I was excited beyond measure. I accepted and taught the class like I was making a million dollars.
Soon the lecturer saw my skill and told me to give him my curriculum vitae (CV). I was scared, but I sent it anyway. They were looking for IT degree holders. I was dropped with the sight of my biochemistry degree. My friend (the lecturer) did not give up and kept pushing because he had seen the talent in me.
He did his best and I got my first interview for the job. It took a long time to hear from them. I was called for another interview because of my degree. I got the job finally.
God, talent, trust and devotion were all at play to get in into the career of my choice. It is tough making a bold switch like this.
I thank my lecturer and friend Elvis Ofori Boateng and my wife Gifty Quansah for seeing something special in me, which recruiters could not easily spot.
To all those having similar career ambitions like I had, I say: “do it. Jesus did not go to theological school but became the savior of this world”.
I am Frank Ebo Quansah (BSc. Biochemistry/OCA 10g/OCP 10g/OCP 11g) n