Most employers have shut their doors against graduates with third class degrees; but the story of Adeoye Adekola, a tailor and a third class degree holder.
Are you a third class degree holder and think you will never become a success in life again? Perhaps, the story of Mr. Adeoye Adekoya, a tailor and a third class graduate of Economics from the University of Ado-Ekiti, (now Ekiti State University) could stir you out of your state of despondency.
Born on April 4, 1979, the Sagamu, Ogun State indigene is not just a Dealer Sales Specialist with a fast-rising telecommunications company, he is an author and an accomplished motivational speaker.
Adekoya said he never thought he could get this far in life due to his unenviable performance in the university.
“But I discovered my inner abilities and strengths when I was in life’s lowest ebb,’’ Adekoya disclosed to THE Punch in Lagos.
Mr. Adeoye Adekoya
Narrating his life story, Adekoya said, “My teenage years were very eventful, I’m naturally very adventurous. I attended Ijebu-Ode Grammar School and later St. Finbar’s College, Akoka, Lagos. I was involved in almost everything. I played soccer for my street, in fact I was very good that sometimes our coach then would have to go over to my mum’s school to plead with her so she could allow me play at tournaments because they didn’t have a better replacement for me.
“I had five credits in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination. I got admission to the University of Ado-Ekiti to study Economics. But I was carried away with the luxuries of life. I spent most of my time partying and having fun. Education became my second priority. If I had known the consequence of my wrong decision, I would have done things differently,’’ he explained.
Adekoya said that his frivolous lifestyle and youthful exuberance in the university made him come out with a third class degree.
“In my case, I passed through the university, but the university didn’t pass through me,” he said.
His life after university became much worse as he became depressed and addicted to drinking and smoking. In his words, the bottle became his best friend.
“I was depressed and got hooked to the naughty lifestyle. I was drinking and smoking heavily. I also did many other naughty things. I was regular at most of the pubs (beer parlours) in my neighbourhood. I was also a regular at the African Shrine. I was very discouraged and was practically hopeless. Eventually I decided to leave Nigeria, but I was refused the entry visa to the United Kingdom three times. I also won the American Visa Lottery and was refused a visa,’’ he added.
One morning, he woke up and realised that he had wasted most of his life.
“On this particular day, after leaving the pub, I got into my room; I broke down and started sobbing. I remember saying God, I’m tired of this type of lifestyle, I’m tired of drinking, smoking and trying to rule my life by myself . I need you to come and take control of my life. And since that fateful morning, my life hasn’t been the same again.
“I realised that for my life to change I had to change my mindset, so I started taking step to feed my mind with positive information. I enrolled for leadership training at an academy, I started reading more inspirational books and listening to inspirational audiotapes. I had people who had positive lifestyles as my role models. I changed my association.
“I was no longer frequent at those odd places any more; I was now very frequent in places where positive information was being shared. All these helped me a lot to purge my mind of the depressing thoughts. I began to discover my real self, I began to discover and deploy my leadership potentials. So I began to respond to the challenges before me, instead of reacting to them. My life literarily made turn for good since then,” he said.
So at what point did he become a tailor? Adekoya said the reality of his third class degree and its impact on his academic pursuit and career advancement dawned on him during his service year in Ebonyi State.
“I thought of what to do with my life after service because nobody would give a third class graduate job and decided to learn tailoring, which I know I have passion for.
“But rather than call myself a tailor, I preferred to be identified as a Fashion Solutions Provider,” he said.
Though his parents were supportive, some people mocked him. “But I didn’t care about those who mocked me because I had my eyes fixed on the bigger picture ahead,’’ he disclosed.
Speaking on how he found himself in the telecommunications industry, Adekoya said, “There was an opening in the organisation and I applied for the job. I was called up for the interview, which happened to be my first ever interview after graduation. I went for the interview and I remembered that the interviewers were very impressed with the way I answered two of their questions. They asked what I did for a living as at that time, and I told them that I was a Fashion Solutions Provider.
The second question matched a scenario in one of the books I was reading so I just downloaded the principle I discovered in the book to them, which gave me the job.”
Adekoya’s story is just one in a few cases. There is also Mr. Abiola Onabule who finished with a third-class degree, but works with one of the top Information and Communications firms in the country.
Employers claim third class degree certificates are very easy to filter out, as it is the perfect excuse to get rid of a reasonably sized number of applicants without needing to read the CV.
However, they said the value placed on degree classification is slowly giving way to experience and skills.
Recently, our correspondent received a Blackberry message that read “Graduates needed at one of the top banks. 2:1 and 3rd class graduates should apply”.
However, the Human Resource Officer, Estymol Oil Services, Lagos, Miss Mary-Anne Omobomi, said Adekoya’s success story was rare and that the least class of degree that the company could employ was a second class upper.
She said, “It is true that when you are looking into the multi-national database, majority of the members of staff are first class or second class upper graduates. If you find people who are below 2.1 qualifications, they must have come in through someone they know in top management.
“There is a change in focus because the competition between companies is stepping up every day. Everyone wants quality output and professionalism. Knowledge and innovation, they say, are the keys to success and companies are striving to become multi-national companies with a reputable calibre of employees. The idea behind bringing in first class and 2.1 degree- holders is to recruit well-learned people. I conducted a research and found out that it was the system or procedure that was obtained abroad and the Nigerian employers have sustained it,” she said.
For Miss Ebunoluwa Oyatogun, an employee in one of the new generation banks in Akure, her 2:1 degree secured her employment with the bank.
“I give God thanks for making me finish with a 2:1. If I had finished with anything lower, I doubt if the bank would have employed me. Even those with a 2:2 and third class were not employed,” she said.
Reacting to the issue of companies employing graduates with either a first class or second class upper degree, Mr. Oke Adewale, a graduate, said, “Our education will remain in shambles and destruction if 2:1 is the desirable grade for employment; besides, armed robber will champion the cause of justice. Eighty-five per cent of Nigerian graduates will remain beggars.”
Another graduate, Mr. Adetuga Marcus, said, “The assumption that 2:1 is the best qualification for graduates is absolutely wrong and unjustifiable. Our university system is so corrupt that students seek illegal ways to scale through the university. Results are not on merit principle. My advice is that all graduate job seekers should be subjected to the same quality and ability test irrespective of their classes of degree.”
For Mr. Marcus Kamai, “Using 2:1 to sift candidates for employment is not a ridiculous approach. The truth is that in most cases, 2:1 graduates must have worked a bit harder in the university to earn a 2:1 compared to other grades lower in the ranking. Most employers who are disappointed with the performance of 2:1 graduates are likely to be more disappointed with the performance of graduates with second class lower or third class.’’
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