Dare To Dream: The Story of A TEF Graduate Trainee
Let me tell you a little secret, two secrets actually. First of all, if someone had told me on the 25th of December, 2021 that I would wake up one morning, get dressed and head to Heirs Place for work I would have found myself laughing at a hilarious joke. Laughing not because I don’t believe but because I had not as much heard of an Heirs Holdings before. Not until the 26th of December, 2021 when my cousin forwarded me a flier advertising a Graduate Trainee role at Heirs Holdings.
Secondly, in January 2020 I applied for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. That’s a story for another day. But the point is that once again not that I don’t dream but the farthest I could see myself with regards to the foundation was being a beneficiary of the programme. I have always admired Tony Elumelu for his philanthropic initiative committed to empowering young Africans towards entrepreneurship. I saw the work the foundation has done on the continent and their partnerships beyond Africa. Little did I know that all I saw was the hard work of a small team of enterprising young men and women delivering excellently on their job. A team I’m now a part of for the next three weeks. You can guess how excited I must be.
I now wake up in the morning, get dressed and head to Heirs Place for work. I’m here now, a graduate trainee at Heirs Holdings, and for three weeks during this graduate trainee programme, I’ll be on a functional rotation to The Tony Elumelu Foundation, I’ll be part the TEF Partnership and Policy team, a TEF graduate trainee. I must be dreaming!
I did have a dream. A dream that began the on the 31st of December 2021, the day I received an email acknowledging the receipt of my application for the role. That email stated the time frame for selection and the stages involved; an online assessment and an interview via a virtual assessment centre. I immediately dropped my phone for some minutes and thought deeply about this email I just read. “Only two stages, I can do it” I thought to myself as I looked out the window riding in the back seat of a bus to Ibadan. And then I pick the phone back up went straight to google, typed “Heirs Holdings” and since then no day passes without me thinking about that phrase. I just found my dream place.
Some may say it was too early to have had that dream, it’s just an email acknowledging an application, I had not even been shortlisted. They may just have been right. However, that quickly turned into a reality as few days later, two days precisely, I received an email scheduling me for an online assessment. I have always said to myself that all I need is to pass an online assessment, once that’s done, I can get through and get the job, any job. I will tell you that this was put to a test from the following stages to the moment I received that call informing me of my acceptance into the academy.
What I thought was a dream began to look like a nightmare. On the 3rd of January 2022, I was set to take my online assessment. Prepared and ready to kill it, but my laptop thought otherwise. No access to webcam and no access to another laptop. I was alone and helpless. I tried but the time went by so fast, assessment had ended and I didn’t even get a chance to start. I went back to the platform hosting other applicants, and as I saw their comments about the concluded assessment, I could no longer hold the warm tears that filled my eyes. As those tears rolled down my cheeks all I could think about was an opportunity I missed, I had to wake up because the dream was over
On the 5th of January,2022, two days after the initial date for my assessment. I received an email inviting me to take the same test. I must be lucky right? I guess my dream is back on. This time around I kept it all to myself, I didn’t want to be told sorry the second time. I took the assessment and on the 8th of January I got an email, immediately I clicked on it, and my eyes fell on the word “Congratulations, you have made it through the first stage assessment.” That was all that mattered, in my mind I had the job already.
The second stage comprised of a case study analysis, presentation of proposed solution to the case studies and a competency-based interview. They were right when they intimated us that it was going to be a rigorous process. It truly was. At this point I had gone through all Heirs Holdings social media platforms; I was positive and ready to have what I had dreamed and hoped for, to be part of the HH People.
For a process that was meant to take 4-5 weeks, days turned into weeks and weeks into months. The things that happened within that time, the things I felt and thought about, I can only smile when I look back. I was devastated. Others had received feedback, “don’t worry they may be getting back to people in batches” everyone said to me but I will think to myself “how are you guys sure? These people have chosen their candidates”. Somewhere in those thoughts and words, there was a ray of hope.
My dream came true on the 4th of March, 2022 at about 1pm, I received a call, it was a strange number, the voice was courteous, I knew it in my guts that this was it, even before I heard “…calling from Heirs Holdings” and when I did, my feelings were confirmed. “Will you be available for a pre-employment medical screening between today and 5pm tomorrow?” I was tempted to laugh because this is the statement I have been waiting for. “Welcome to Heirs Holdings.” My heart almost exploded!
Today marks my 8th week with Heirs Holdings as a gradate trainee. I have been through 4 weeks intensive classroom instructor led sessions, 4 weeks functional rotation, 1 spent with the partnerships and policy team of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
I believe my contact with the foundation in the past was no coincidence. It’s interesting that during my time of waiting, I once received a notification on Twitter, I opened it and saw a post from Nelson celebrating his joining the foundation as a Communications Executive. I liked the post and felt that one day I’ll see Nelson. That day happened to be a few days ago. 4th of February,2022 was my mum’s birthday. How does my mum’s birthday relate to this right? We were on our way to the beach that day and as we drove through Victoria Island, we realised that we needed some cash, the first ATM we tried did not dispense cash and we drove ahead. Here we are at Heirs Towers. “I’m meant to be part of this” I thought to myself as I used the UBA ATM.
One thing I now realize is that my dream never died. I didn’t see it when I expected but it came true.
~ Judy Garland
“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams you dare to dream really do come true.”
Dare to dream
Author: Eniye Aduwari