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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Nigerian Biological Science Graduates - Next Step after Graduation

Written by: Muoka Chibuzor G

This article seeks to present the world of possibilities to Nigerian graduates of biological science discipline. 

“There must be a goal at every stage of life! There must be a goal! Have an aim in life, then don’t forget to pull the trigger.”

Nigeria as a developing nation is in dire need of scientifically inclined graduates and this includes graduates of the famous Bioscience and Basic Medical courses of which are: Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, Microbiology, Zoology, Botany etc., but at the same time various graduates of  different science disciplines in Nigeria, especially the biological scientists are faced with the daunting challenge of having no place to work after graduation. To add salt to injury, very few jobs are made available to absorb the tons of biological science graduates churned out yearly from various Nigerian Universities.

“But nothing is too difficult, you only need to know how.”

Every year numerous graduates emerge from these biologic faculties and are left stranded after their mandatory one year of National Youth Service (NYSC), as a result of the low funding of research and the inadequate provisions by both the federal and state government to absorb the competent biological scientists. This unprecedented dilemma has made several Nigerian bioscience graduates experience sleepless nights as they are constantly perturbed and hung on the thoughts of “Whats Next To Do After Graduation?” That is the genesis of despicable questions like - “what is the essence of having studied this course in the first place?” From both parents and well-wishing neighbours.

“What will one do? everyone must sweep his/her own doorstep” 

The onus lies on the bioscience graduates to decide their future, and not relax nor accept to dance to whims and caprices of uncaring politicians who would only take advantage of the bad situation to salify their insatiable desires to their taste. Bioscience finalists have to decide what next after graduation and participation in the National Youth Service Corps scheme (NYSC).

Such decisions become of great necessity, immediately one gets to final year. In the final year, every undergraduate of biological sciences should start planning and thinking about the next steps to take after graduating. The sooner the better! If you’re not sure of what you want to do, it may become more of a case of ‘research’, than ‘search’ at this stage. You can carry out your research in various ways:
• Talk to people within your immediate network (e.g. friends, family, lecturers).
• Look at jobs advertised on the Internet.
• Visit your university careers service.
• Attend careers events/seminars.

As a bioscience student or graduate, you will have already made some important decisions in your life concerning your career. Think back to how you chose your degree course and university. Many courses were available to you, so how did you decide? Perhaps your choice was based on the course content, the geographical location of the university and its reputation. Or maybe your choice was linked to a particular career you are keen to pursue. If you were pushed into studying biological sciences and you have no passion for what you studied, then things may not augur well for you because you may remain indecisive while the clock ticks restlessly.

‘Time is more valuable than money”

Whatever influenced your decision, you are now faced with a new set of choices which will be based on a further set of factors. Your degree course, university and NYSC experiences are likely to be factors which would have a major influence on your next career step, but others will figure to a greater or lesser extent. These may include work experience you have gained during the course of your degree (Industrial training) or NYSC, your interests, skills and personality. In addition, other factors such as your personal situation, a network of contacts, job market knowledge and understanding of good career planning will play a part.

Firstly, you must know that as a biosciences graduate, there will be many opportunities available to you in both the scientific-related and non-scientific related fields.

There are various options for BIOSCIENCE graduates in Nigeria;

1.0. Search for a Job 

The Job might be Bioscience-related or Bioscience-unrelated, when worse come to worst create one for yourself.

“Idle hands are the devil's workshop” - Proverbs 16:27-29. 

1.0.1 Find a Non-bioscience job of which includes:

• Accountancy/finance
• Management e.g. retail, operations
• Administration e.g. University, Civil Service
• Sales and marketing (non-medical/scientific)
• Librarian/information management
• Security/Armed forces
• Legal services
• Personnel
• Non-science communication/publishing/journalism/PR
• Market research/analyst
• Self-employment

1.0.2 Postgraduate studies

After graduation from the university, you can decide to go or not go for further studies, but it is advisable to go for postgraduate studies as most of the Bioscience related jobs might demand it. Postgraduate studies might open paths through which you can get good jobs. It also creates room for specialization in a field of study.

“I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.”

Further studies consideration: Includes Postgraduate study options:
a). Master of Science (MSc) describes any scientific Master’s course. This generally takes one year and few months to complete and is mainly a taught course with some research elements.
b). Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is awarded to candidates who have completed a substantial
research project (for longer than 2 years) that is insufficient to be awarded a PhD.
c). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD or DPhil) is a three to a four-year course where the student must carry out a substantial piece of original research, written up as a thesis.

Some jobs require graduates to complete specialized postgraduate courses before becoming fully fledged employees, and some employers may offer to fund their employees’ postgraduate studies
for relevant courses and qualifications.

The type of postgraduate study you choose may depend on your interests or be a requirement for your chosen career. For this reason, and reasons of funding, many graduates choose to take a couple of years out before embarking on a postgraduate course. However, if you are more certain of your career goals, a postgraduate course directly after graduation is sometimes preferable,
e.g. towards a PhD, for teaching, medical careers or science specialization.

1.0.3 Find a Bioscience related jobs of which includes:

• Research & development (industry/academia)
• Teaching (school/college/university)
• Clinical biochemistry/immunology/microbiology
• Technical e.g. quality control, research technician
• Specialist e.g. ecologist, pollution control, bioinformatician
• Patent attorney
• Regulatory affairs/Technology transfer
• Science communication/journalism/publishing
• Research management and administration
• Scientific sales and marketing

1.0.4 Create a Job for yourself (self-employment)

Self-employment is a great alternative to further studies for fresh graduates of Biosciences, especially when there is not enough money for further studies yet. Having acquired basic knowledge at the university and during NYSC, skills accumulated with time can be put into practical use. Once you have the needed capital to start up, you are good to go. Although along the line you might still want to further your education when it becomes of great necessity. The Role of NYSC in salvaging the plight of Nigerian graduates

Nigerian graduates who are still in the NYSC scheme are encouraged to learn various skills, as white collar jobs are becoming unavailable, and fast becoming a rare blessing.  The Skill Acquisition & Entrepreneurship Department (SAED) programme of the NYSC aims at teaching Corp members of the essence of entrepreneurship and the practical implementation of acquired skills, so that that they can become self-employed even when they are still waiting for white collar jobs or engaging in further studies.

2.0. Join the Healthcare Professionals by studying any of the professional courses 
(Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Veterinary medicine, Pharmacy, Medical Lab Science).

This option is for people who actually want to delve into the medical field fully. As a bioscience graduate, if you are not more than 30 years you can pick up this choice. Most times age factor prevents people from choosing this option, because the older one gets, the more responsibilities one shoulders. But education is from cradle to grave and is not dependent on age. This option will demand proper funding and support in every possible way. So if you interested, go for it.

In Nigeria, several Universities grant graduate entry with the basic requirement of a first class and minimum of a second class upper or lower, into these courses through Jamb Direct Entry. All dependent on how many candidates applied and level of competitiveness. Successful candidates who were offered admission via DIRECT ENTRY, proceed from 200level, unlike the UTME applicants who start from 100level.

It is advised that fresh Nigerian graduates of Biosciences who wish to proceed through this path should first finish their NYSC before proceeding. It will save them lots of stress in the future.

Further reading:
1. Next steps: options after a bioscience degree - Sarah Blackford, Karen Devine, Jennie Evans et al. 2011.

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