COVID-19 and Youth: Mentorship and Virtual Coping Strategies

Published on 7th July 2020

If anyone had hinted about remote learning and virtual mentorship forums in Kenya before COVID-19, I would have thought that they were dreaming or just building castles in the air. It is not that this is impossible; rather, it is just that governments in Africa have not invested sufficiently in technological infrastructure. We are more used to and comfortable with being present physically, not virtually. This has limited us, youth, in terms of our talents, skills and abilities due to being restricted to think, function and make decisions fitting into the limiting systems in our countries.

COVID-19 happens! The pandemic redefines job security. A new normal emerges such as learning to work remotely, staying home for students forcing them to identify and nurture their talents to avoid boredom, and joining different virtual forums, workshop and webinars to gain more knowledge on one’s career or interest. 

Home in Kenya, the founder of Impact Borderless Digital (IBD), Nashon Adero, delves into youth mentorship as a means of transitioning in one’s career journey, defying the distancing effects of the pandemic altogether by going virtual. Further afield in the UK, Bernard Marr, a futurist, puts it across in a great way, “The change brought about by COVID-19, of working at home, has allowed people to be innovative, to grow and to even develop new ways of thinking. For sure, it is bringing with it a whole new shift to the job market.”

Down the Homestretch

As a young Engineering student at Taita Taveta University, COVID-19 has affected me greatly, beginning from disruption of studies to postponement of practicals, field trips and even workshops that were lined up for the year. This is what pushed me to joining the Impact Borderless Digital (IBD) virtual forums, which have enabled me to tap into the wealth of knowledge in the guest speakers at the virtual meetings. The aim of IBD forums is to provide borderless learning resources to the youth, to ensure that they are fluent digitally and by the end of the day, to empower the youth to be global citizens. 

I was a co-moderator on June 12, 2020, when IBD hosted a virtual forum on Repositioning for Strategic Careers Post COVID-19. Prof. Washington Ochieng, Head of the Centre for Transport Studies and Chair of Positioning and Navigation Systems in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London, was the guest speaker. As a youth, I have been encouraged to network and empower myself with transferrable skills such as good work attitude, effective communication, personal motivation, time management and teamwork to be a global citizen. The forums have challenged me to do frequent reskilling, upskilling and deep skilling beyond the classroom theory to be able to accomplish more and be competitive in the job market.

Global Competition for Jobs among the Youth 

Utilizing various productivity tools is key to ensuring our effectiveness and efficiency as youth. These tools position us strategically for the post COVID-19 era, which is going to redefine the future of work by globalizing the job market. This means there will be a borderless pool of talents. Students and young professionals will need to be empowered to enter this arena full of ingenious ideas in an online environment that requires a competitive edge. Volunteerism is one of the key virtues I have learnt from IBD as a key entry point into global citizenship and borderless influence. 

Flashback on the Alliance Girls Legacy

Most times as youth, when we begin on something, we end up throwing in the towel when it becomes tough on the way. Such are the times our Alliance Girls High School song comes to mind, “Challenge can never alter the course of the goals we’ve all set for our lives.” We need to be resilient and to push on, overcoming challenges and being faithful to the end until we accomplish fully. 

Facing the Future with a Mentored Youthful Resolve 

Yes, COVID-19 has disrupted much and has been destructive too, but it has also opened our eyes to integrating technology to ensure progress despite setbacks. Youth ought to overcome the culture of a limited worldview and tap into the privileges and vast opportunities of digitalization and the internet. Digital fluency is not something youth should take lightly. Diligence, determination, discipline and dignity will steer the youth to attain boundless influence. 

Mentorship opens up one’s mind to a whole new different world full of possibilities. Listening to the success stories of the people who have gone ahead of you, how they overcame challenges, has been the best part of the virtual forums. When youth get mentors, they will not be afraid to venture into foreign, deeper waters because they will have someone to hold their hand, helping them to wade through. 

Young ladies out there should not subdue the urge to venture into tough fields like engineering. With determination, passion and the right support system – mentorship being key, you will make it. Mentorship is key to nurturing all of us into competitive global citizens. Tribute to all youth mentors; the post COVID-19 stakes are higher!

By Imelda Nasubo

The author is an alumna of Alliance Girls High School. She is currently pursuing a degree in Mining Engineering at Taita Taveta University, Kenya.


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