Interviews The First Class Diary

First Class Diary: Build yourself to be fit for industry and learn along the way – ML

First Class Diary: Build yourself to be fit for industry and learning along the way – ML

Hello readers, how are you this morning? It’s the second and last episode of the February series. Our guest, from Pan-Atlantic University has encouraged students to focus on being built to fit industry.

In his words,

Students read because that is actually what they are meant to do in order to pass. They are however, not exposed to the valuable skills needed to be self-sufficient in the work-force.


Abigael Ibikunle of Edugist: Please share with Edugist, a little about your background.

Messi Lawrence: Well, my name is Messi Lawrence, as you may already know. I was born in Cameroun but my Mother (Victoria Eta-Messi) is Nigerian and I’ve lived in Nigeria all my life.

I’ve just one younger sibling, Pascal. I attended New Capital School, Asokoro Abuja (primary). Then, I went to Christ the King College Gwagwalada, Abuja (secondary) and after that I gained admission into Pan- Atlantic University, Lagos.

I graduated December 3rd, 2020 with a first Class in Economics and now I work at Financial Derivatives Company (pre-NYSC position)


AI: Was there any motivating factor(s) that influenced your choice of discipline and institution?

ML: Yes, actually, I always had an interest in Economics right from my first year in senior secondary school. I learnt about exchange rates and the inflation rate and I wanted to know why Nigeria’s rates were so high.

Then, I realized that the Central Bank had the prerogative to influence such economic outcomes.

So, I had the aspiration to become the CBN Governor. However, I learnt that to be an effective CBN governor, one must be an economist. That’s when I decided that I would study Economics at the University.

The aspiration of being the CBN governor may be far-fetched but ultimately, I believe I shall get to the point where I can have significant influence on economic indicators in the country.

My choice of institution was driven by the following factors.

  • Finishing my education on time and schedule.
  • Gaining industry experience and affiliations.
  • Acquiring innovative education rather than reading to reproduce

These factors, coupled with counsel from my parents led me to choose Pan-Atlantic University.


AI: There are two major skills that every student must possess: COMPETENCE and PERFORMANCE. While competence revolves around skill acquisition, performance is much more concerned about skills application. It is believed that most graduates are competent because their academic performance testifies to this, but they are performance-challenged. This poor performance ipso facto hinders them from getting lucrative jobs in the labour market. What can you say about this assertion?

ML: I agree with this statement and it is mainly because Institutions of higher learning fail to incorporate practical aspects to their curriculums. Theory is much more different from practice, field trips, talks. Seminars by industry professionals are highly overlooked.

Students read because that is actually what they are meant to do in order to pass. They are however, not exposed to the valuable skills needed to be self-sufficient in the work-force.

On a resume or cover letter, you can see that it’s only grades that are displayed. No internships or summer jobs or self-started projects, and thus employers are not impressed.


AI: What do you think is responsible for competence without performance? Please suggest ways of improving the performance level of university students and graduates.

ML: Wow, I may have answered this in the previous response. I believe University students should be encouraged to learn wide outside their curriculums. They can get online courses to enhance their software skills.

Similarly, they can embark on internships and summer jobs right from their first year. But of course, they may not achieve this on their own.

Universities should establish relationships with industry that will make the pathway into such opportunities easier.

Course curricula should reflect both necessary theory and exposure to practical aspects of such courses.

Lastly, universities should get their courses accredited with relevant professional bodies (example accounting students should be accredited under ICAN and ACCA). So that their graduates would be eligible chartered/professionals straight out of university with their degree as well.


AI: Achievement in life transcends one’s personal efforts. There were people who, during your programme, rendered some assistance that made your dreams a reality. Who are specific persons whose contribution you can’t forget in your first-class feat?

ML: These are the Notable mentions;

  • Well first, I would like to appreciate my mother whose sacrifice exposed me to all the best opportunities in the first place.
  • My primary school teacher (Mr. Stephen) who first saw potential in me. It was this point I started to get the best grades and this jolt of confidence has been a driving force ever since.
  • Professor Perekunah Eregha, who first exposed the reality of what being an economist means and guided me and my class in our final year.

To People Whom I have unrelenting Gratitude;

  • My Friends from secondary school (The Business Boys)
  • My Course mates and friends from other departments in the university who also helped to shape my thinking.
  • All the lecturers I passed through in the university because I learnt something invaluable from all my courses


AI: As a first-class graduate, are you currently gainfully employed?

ML: Well yes, I am currently undergoing a pre-NYSC Analyst position at the Financial Derivatives Company.


AI: Do you think your grades have or is giving you any major advantage over other graduates with lesser grades?

ML: The grades play a part in getting into the door, I won’t deny that. But, I believe it all comes down to merit, skill set and a host of other factors.

Building yourself to be fit for industry and learning along the way, delayed gratification and soft skills as well.


AI: For students who aspire to graduate with outstanding grade like yours, what would you advise them?


I’d advise them first to do what they are passionate about (Study Engineering because that’s what you wish to do not because it was suggested for you). Then I’d advise them to set their goals and plan towards it.

In addition, they must be active in classes and extra-curricular activities, maintain good relationships with peers and lecturers. Many factors can influence how well you do in an exam, it’s not always about studying.

Lastly, avoid procrastination! Learning to read ahead of classes and reading as soon as a class ends helps relieve a lot of pressure before the writing of a test or an exam.


AI: What would you advise the government to do to improve the standard of our education system?


  • Increase the allocation to education from the annual Budget.
  • Revamp the curriculum to be more practical and contemporary reflecting current trends in Industry and global best practices.
  • Increase the compensation for teachers and lecturers because they determine the trajectory of a lot of young minds.

There’s a lot more they could do, but for now these are the most immediate and pressing objectives that without which would just leave the sector dilapidated.


AI: Any other thing you would like to share?


Well, the journey has not been easy in any way. Growing up in this age, you must combat a lot of factors and still be okay.

I just want to say that to all your readers who may not have made a first class, it does not determine your future in any way.

Build yourself to have skills and you will be more competent and performance effective than a first-class graduate.

Networking is also very important. Try to create good lasting impressions in any discussion you happen to have or event you happen to attend.

Be creative, persuasive and innovative and expressive, use social media to your advantage and you will see opportunities.

Also, no matter the challenges you may be going through, keep pushing, keep going and remember that you are not alone, and I assure you, your goals will be met.


That’s it on the series for the Month. Hope you had a swell time reading? You can read the previous interview here

To be featured in the series, please send a mail to Abby

I am Abigael Ibikunle and celebrating excellence is a top priority for me.

iTeach, iSpeak, iTrain, iFacilitate, iWrite, iInterview and iLoveYou all. Smile! See you next week!


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About the author

Abigael Ibikunle

Associate Correspondent at Edugist, Abigael Ibikunle is a Mathematics Education graduate. A professional Journalist and a passionate writer. She can be reached via:

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