NJERI KIHANG’AH – Preparing students for the job market
Adjectives that best describe Njeri Kihang’ah are a passionate people-builder and a storyteller. During our interview, it is evident that she loves mentoring young people through her initiative, The MentorMe
Adjectives that best describe Njeri Kihang’ah are a passionate people-builder and a storyteller. During our interview, it is evident that she loves mentoring young people through her initiative, The MentorMe Project.
“MentorMe came about after my alma mater – State House Girls High School – requested me to go back and encourage the students to take their schooling more seriously,” she recalls. This was in 2011, when she had just ventured into journalism. It was during this talk that she noted that half of the room was not paying attention. She had gone on and on about how fulfilling her career was but they had far more diverse dreams and in that moment, she was not speaking their language. So she decided to do something different.
“I called up a few people from my network who were in different fields to join me in planning a more inclusive talk. I purposed to hold a career fair,” she shares.
At the time, Njeri was a writer with the Daily Nation and her salary could not suffice to cater for the event so she decided to approach her Sacco for a self-guaranteed loan to boost it.
Her first formal event was in Sunshine Secondary School, where she proposed a model that would pack career talks, a university expo and an opportunity to enjoy a live recording of NTV’s Crossover 101 show – a real treat for the school!
However, the more inclusive event was plagued by another issue.
“I realized that career fairs often took a ‘hit-and-run’ approach and one could never really evaluate their impact simply because no one keeps in touch afterward. I couldn’t keep things as they were, I knew we had to revise our model and that, unfortunately, meant a change in the target group as well,” she says.
Today, Njeri and her team focus on young adults in college and campus, linking them up with mentors in the field of their interest.
“So as we sign up students, we commit ourselves to walk the journey with them by creating platforms for them to learn skills like personal branding, money management, CV writing and interviewing among other soft skills which are useful as they transition into the work environment,” she elaborates.
In 2012, Njeri took on an assignment as a Communications Officer within the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). Unfortunately, that meant that she couldn’t keep up with the MentorMe Project. While she grew her own capacity, there was still
a sense of emptiness without the project.
She later on resigned from the United Nations to focus on The MentorMe Project but occasionally took on communication consultancy jobs.
“I knew in my heart that God had put this burden in me to work with young people, but the truth was it wasn’t paying as much as I had been earning. The need for ‘security’ kept pushing me back into employment. One day, I realized that all I had to do was to walk in my purpose and trust that God would guide me. So I stopped spreading myself thin. I have seen great things happen as a result of obedience,” Njeri shares.
So far the project has been able to equip over 5,000 students and placed a good number of interns in partner organizations.
“My greatest joy is seeing those whom we have walked with transform into responsible young men and women. They are now news anchors, procurement managers, photographers and so on living their own dreams. To see their parents and employers acknowledge the difference is truly reassuring,” she shares gladly.
Njeri is also the convener of Aspire Conference, an annual meet-up that brings together young entrepreneurs and seasoned influencers for life-changing conversations partly supported by the American Spaces Program.
“This has been a journey of faith and self-discovery,” she says. She has discovered that there is grace to accomplish that which you have been called to do. This thus begs the question: are you following your calling?