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Politicole: Bahamas After College = Professional Suicide

By NICOLE BURROWS

AS the school year ends, here is my advice to prospective or recent Bahamian college students and graduates.

If you’re graduating, if you’re in the middle of your college studies, if you’re just beginning your college studies, or if you’re planning for college, this applies to you.

If you must return to The Bahamas, these are the professions in which you will, in all probability, always be able to find employment, if finding employment is your end goal: Law, Accounting/Finance, Medicine.

They are the traditional “white collar” professions. And for all the corruption and criminal activity in our country, there will always be a need for these people.

The College of The Bahamas (COB), in spite of its university status aspirations, still has a long way to go to being an efficiently-operated institution, especially one of higher learning. They are aiming to be better and more modern, but still struggle to manage issues which have plagued them from 20 years ago.

Nevertheless, as long as you actually get to take your classes in a reasonable timeframe, the quality of academics/education you will obtain at COB is still very good, and, in many instances, better than the quality of education you may obtain at some North American universities.

If you are not academically prepared, financially prepared, socially or mentally matured and responsible enough to go abroad and live on your own and be self-sustaining, whether you or your parents decide this, COB is a good place to start your post-secondary education. Use the opportunity to take many different subjects to see or confirm where your academic and professional interests really lie.

If you think you want to study business, take some science and art courses, too, and vice versa. The most important thing about what you study is to be sufficiently well-rounded that you can perform in diverse environments once you graduate.

You may go in thinking you have it all figured out, but when you see and experience the content of a degree programme, you might realise that you’re really not interested in and/or you’re not good at what you thought would be your college major. If you can handle the work load and possibly the extra finances, take on a minor or a dual degree programme. There are even some colleges (beyond COB) which allow you to design your own major. Again, the more diverse your knowledge and academic exposure, the more useful it is to the world you live in and the more opportunities you will create for yourself – and others.

To study something for two to four-plus years in a degree programme will require you to be good, diligent and interested. And the better you are at something, the more interested you are likely to be in it and the more successful you can be.

So, when it comes to choosing your major, choose first what you’re most passionate about, then what is practical and/or affordable. Most people will not be honest with you about this, but, it is more important, you will learn soon enough, to work in a field you’re passionate about.

You may choose a career path which you feel will make more money, but the problem with doing this exclusively is that at some point you will be or feel compromised by the demands of work into which your heart is no longer invested.

When you don’t enjoy what you do for a living, you will grow to dislike your work, and, by the time you realise it, you may have children, a family, a vehicle, a mortgage or any number of other personal financial obligations which cannot be easily abandoned. And you will find yourself stuck, unable and/or afraid to change your circumstances, embittered by your earlier choices and filled with regret about what you could have been or done differently.

Many people will tell you, if you choose any college major/career outside of the top three I listed previously, that “you can’t do anything with that degree”.

And in a way they have a point. The Bahamas and the people who live here do not recognise professionals in many fields of expertise, beyond those they are accustomed to hearing about, nor are there opportunities for professionals in non-traditional fields to be gainfully and respectably employed. But that doesn’t mean you should discard your dream automatically, especially if you can realise your dream somewhere else in the world. Follow the dream as long as you can find the path and have a plan.

If you choose an unrecognised or lesser-known area of study or profession, when you return to the Bahamas after college, be sure you already have a plan that goes beyond simply getting a job. In fact, long before you start college, you should not train yourself to be thinking about just getting a job, you should be thinking about what you can do differently to help make your country and your world a better place to live.

You may have to blaze a new trail or a few. In fact, all the better for you if you can blaze a new trail … think, create, innovate. Don’t become a part of a homogenous society of job-seekers with limited vision.

Education is more than a certificate. It’s more than subject matter. It is a way of thinking … the ability to reason and rationalise.

And when you come through your education, you’ll realise that mass numbers of Bahamians cannot reason and rationalise and that exemplifies the need for (further) education, and the failure of education in The Bahamas to date.

If you have a non-traditional degree, training or professional interests, get your experience abroad, because you won’t find it in the Bahamas. Get all your academic qualifications abroad, so that your standard of achievement is an international standard respected by the world, not just your country.

Also, between the time you attend high school and the time you begin university, try to earn and save as much money as you can, even if your parents have money to fund your studies or if you have scholarships. If you attend COB, or even if you go directly abroad to university, it would be good to take a job and earn a few dollars. And, if you have the opportunity to go to college, this is the only time that you really need to be looking only for a job to pay your bills. This is not the way to operate as an adult, especially after college, because you will set yourself up for failure in a never-ending cycle of working to pay bills.

Taking on a small job or employment while in school is a good thing, because not only can it help to pay some portion of tuition or other expenses, but it teaches you the real value of money, and of labour, and the sooner you learn the responsibility of paying your own bills, even if you only pay for your food, books and transportation, the better.

In fact, a Finance course that teaches you about the time value of money (TVM) is useful for any college major and students should feel encouraged to take this course. Also, with respect to finances, make sure you find out which universities offer funding, whether full funding or partial tuition assistance, for you as an international student.

Once you’ve obtained all of your qualifications, when you’ve attained a decent level of income in your field of work, and you’re well-versed in your profession, then you can start to consider returning to the Bahamas. But don’t return just yet.

Consider this last thing. Make sure, before you return to the Bahamas to live, that you have enough money saved to survive for the few years it is likely to take you to settle into an environment that takes more than it gives.

And make sure you have enough money to start and maintain a business, creating a new enterprise for yourself, when every employer thinks you are over-qualified, which many – if not most of them – will.

Don’t return to The Bahamas if you have no money or little money.

Don’t return to The Bahamas if you are not done with education or have an ongoing thirst for greater knowledge, because once you leave academia it is increasingly difficult to return to it with every passing year, and your thirst will never really be quenched if you lock yourself into the Bahamas, accidentally or intentionally.

If you do return to The Bahamas with little or no money, or before you are done with your education, you will regret it sooner or later.

Of course, this absolutely means I am encouraging you to live and work abroad. Yes, I certainly am, particularly if your professional passion is in an area which Bahamians do not understand or respect. But, as long as you live abroad, find ways to contribute to the development of The Bahamas, because every good citizen should at least try to at some point in their lifetime.

If you are an engineer, come back every summer and offer a camp for young engineers. Or, create a scholarship fund for young women or at-risk youth who want to be engineers.

If you’re a doctor, come back once per month, quarter or year and offer a one-day, weekend or week-long clinic for the elderly or the poor. Or, teach pre-med students a course from your own medical curriculum, perhaps even giving them some allowable hands-on training in the field, even if they operate as volunteers to the wider community.

If you are a musician, donate some musical instruments.

If you are a ball player, put together a team of your colleagues and introduce an annual sports camp to a family island.

There are so many ways you can contribute to the improvement of The Bahamas, if you live and work outside The Bahamas, and you really mean to contribute.

Come back to The Bahamas if you have family responsibilities that are urgent, but make sure you have an exit plan if or when it becomes necessary.

Come back home to The Bahamas if you don’t have money concerns … ie, your family has financial reserves you can draw from, or your family owns a profitable and viable business in which you can play a significant role and still be content and contribute to the country’s advancement. (If you have funds to rely on, you will most likely have an easier time exiting to go back to college or to work abroad if you so choose).

If you’re not a brown-noser, go or stay where you can get employment and professional opportunity on merit and authentic credentials and not (merely) because you know someone who knows someone.

If you’re not a brown-noser, but you intend to excel, The Bahamas is not the place for you. Because brown-nosing is the order of the day and excellence is not. Average is acceptable, and often times preferred. You can have ideas, but don’t have too many. You can have ambition, but don’t have too much. You can be educated, but don’t be too smart. You can have integrity, but don’t be too decent. If you are a brown-noser, then hurry back home to The Bahamas, because that is what a majority currently embraces.

Comments

EnoughIsEnough 1 year, 10 months ago

Good commentary - very on point. From my own experience, having lived and educated away for 20 years post-graduation from school in Nassau, and then returning in my mid-30's - everything you say above is true. I was "over qualified" for every job that I was actually qualified for, and the only opportunity to work would have been in banking - which I hated and did not study for at all. So, I was forced to start my own businesses freelancing and fortunately they worked out. At 40 years I began to work freelance as a photographer which was the only thing I had wanted to do since I was 13 years old but was told I'd never make money in so I followed a traditional path - which was primarily one of misery, disappointment etc and led to years of feeling like a failure because I was not fulfilling my ultimate desire. Now I do better financially freelancing in the field that I love and was destined to do than in any job I had in banking or another sell out field. I agree with you - any one that goes away to study - stay away. Our country is failing and floundering and there is little to no opportunity for you here. Quite sad.

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ObserverOfChaos 1 year, 10 months ago

excellent and concise view of the situations here in Bahamas....congrats....this young woman will be successful definitely outside the Bahamas....another resource lost to Bahamas, but a gain where ever she goes....so stay away Bahamians that want to make a career here...it's not a welcome place for sure!

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asiseeit 1 year, 10 months ago

The biggest mistake in my life was coming home after school. Regret, that I did, this country has little to offer if you are not a follower. Ignorance and greed are the two main drivers of Bahamians. Just look at the Charlie-Charlie stupidity and you can see how ignorant even the supposed educated are. Geed, look no farther than government, Greg Moss hit the nail on the head.

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Itellya 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I share your sentiments! I worked for a particular government agency since the 1980's went to school came back and became public enemy to my superiors and peers! Thing is I never flaunted what I acquired but just as humble as ever. They have kept their feet on my neck the whole time not allowing me to advance allowing those unqualified with no desire to educate themselves, no real love and passion for the profession to be promoted over me based on their having favor. I returned home to my agency because I gave my word that I would by way of a bond. But I promise you had I imagined that the 10 years after my return would have been this way, I would have never returned. PERIOD!!

I regret everyday that I came back here especially as my college classmates are all enjoying the profession making good money and making advancements in the United States.

Im sorry for those who might be offended, but I cant wait for my opportunity to leave!!!

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sansoucireader 1 year, 10 months ago

Her article is true and the comments are true too. Sad for our beloved country and ourselves. Yet the ones making the decisions (PM, politicians etc.) cannot, or will not, see this as truth.

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Zakary 1 year, 10 months ago

Yet the ones making the decisions (PM, politicians etc.) cannot, or will not, see this as truth.


The leaders and politicians definitely understand this truth, but they will continue to appease the masses. Systematically though, and as much as I hate saying this; we also function on some fundamental level within a network of cronyism and nepotism.

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asiseeit 1 year, 10 months ago

The politicians have made this the truth. An uneducated voter is what they WANT. They do not want people that ask questions, have a moral compass, or to be honest. Those people can not be bought off, can see through the lie's and will not vote for scum. Keep them dumb, give them just enough, and let the good times roll (for the politician). That is how our politicians think.

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Zakary 1 year, 10 months ago

If you must return to The Bahamas, these are the professions in which you will, in all probability, always be able to find employment, if finding employment is your end goal: Law, Accounting/Finance, Medicine.


The end. This should be burnt into the minds of every Bahamian student pursuing a university degree. There are too many who get disappointed upon entering the real world to find out that they have a useless degree in this country.

Don't mind what your teachers or counselors say, you just can't do what you want. You have to consider culture, technology, demand, job market, and a host of other factors when contemplating the profession you desire. If anyone tells you this harsh truth, then they are really looking out for you.

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johnq 1 year, 10 months ago

Even in those fields it can be a toss up...depending on who you know that is. I personally have a friend with a Masters Degree in Finance, years of experience and has been unemployed for two years. Every interview she has been on (which according to her has been few and far between) has resulted in employers saying she is too qualified.

The final paragraph of this editorial is amazing by the way.

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My2cents 1 year, 10 months ago

The final paragraph is amazing...and unfortunately summarizes the true, unspoken yet accepted, culture of the Bahamas.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 10 months ago

Excellent article as always Nicole. I wrote the following comment on the Moss resignation article and am just posting it here to ensure readership. I will not be posting after today. I also made the mistake of returning to the Bahamas after obtaining my degree. My life has been a total waste the last 25 years.

My advice to any Bahamian who has a degree abroad and should find themselves in the TSA line at the airport about to return here - go to the nearest airport store and buy a BIG bottle of suntan lotion (or something). They won't let you through with that (max 3.5oz right?) - and just insist that you cannot go on without it, claiming your skin will catch on fire. You will eventually be escorted out of the airport and onto the streets of the USA or Canada. Trust me, even if you end up under a bridge holding out a cream can begging for coins - you will be much better off than had you boarded that plane.

Seems this would be a fitting time for ME also to offer my resignation from politics. The arrest of a protester in Freeport two days ago during a peaceful protest, and the declaration and validation by the Court the following day that we as citizens need PERMISSION to protest says all that needs to be said about our state of affairs.

Our comments on here and on Facebook and wherever else are actually a form of protest - in a way. If protesting is illegal, then it might not be long before these online activities also lead to arrest. The sad thing is that in most countries where people are not free, the economies usually suck because people have no incentive to "rise above" and perform. I hope that situation will not befall our beloved nation.

In truth, all of our comments on here are really a waste of time anyway - because the only time our "voice" means anything (perhaps) is during one day every five years.

Best of luck and best wishes to all.

TheMadHatter

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duppyVAT 1 year, 10 months ago

I dont know exactly what Nicole Burrows is getting at here ........... there are thousands of Bahamians (including her) who have gotten scholarships and college dgrees both at COB and overseas and have improved their lot in life .......... and didnot brown nose for anything.

Nicole, please do not allow your bitter views towards the minority who benefit from political cronyism to colour your prospects for the U30 population to make a difference in this country .................... if we who are the professional class in the 30-50 year age group had all left or never returned, then this independent country would have been a different place.

I urge the U30 professionals to take heart and do not look for instant gratification ....... persevere and hang in there and continue to make your mark ...... do not allow the over 60 political class to steal your pride and joy in your country.

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avidreader 1 year, 10 months ago

Many tertiary educated people of many countries end up living and working in a country other than their own. This has been a pattern for a long time and is to be expected in a small country with few opportunities for advancement in certain areas. The Bahamas has been very fortunate in some ways and perhaps not as fortunate in others. When we consider the scattered nature of these islands, the relatively few citizens who have benefited from higher education and the difficulties of establishing and operating a business successfully, it is almost a wonder that so many have made it to what we would call the middle class. Of course, this sector of society is under threat from higher taxes and pressure from cost of living increases as well as inflated real estate prices but compared to even a few big countries we have not done so badly. There are people out there in the wider world who would be pleased to come here legally or illegally when they compare this country to their own.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 9 months ago

Yes, we are starting to look even better than England, France, and Canada in some ways. If we can only keep the towel-heads out, we might survive.

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Theyoungnrestless 1 year, 5 months ago

I saw this and felt compelled to comment... Isn't it sad? Our best, our brightest, are forced to leave, because they are "overqualified"? What ever that REALLY means. The article makes some very good points, but its end goal in my opinion is disturbing at best. This is a huge problem, as a young man i've witnessed it first hand, i graduated deputy head boy at my public highschool in nassau, and COB made no sense to me. Study for four years here and make 21k per annum or study abroad and make upwards of 40k-50k. We need to fix these issues, i wish one of our talented editors, would take the time, to point out the problems, and give their solutions in a post or something viewed greatly by the public, and we can all weigh in. If this trend continues the bahamas will FAIL as a country. The world is advancing at a rapid pace, we cannot continue to prosper with a uneducated professional work force, companies cannot continue to prosper from cheap labor. We must stop bending our backs for tourism to such an extent, and open the door to the immense knowledge and power that our youth posses. When will we let our workforce work, when will we create new sources of revenue? sigh Down with these talk-shows yapping about politicians, like gossip in a salon. Enough of these old politicians, we need reform, a consensus, a discussion about the future of The Bahamas. The economy will grow if we allow our youth to grow. Yes it helps to give back when you live abroad, but really what difference are you TRULY making.

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OMG 1 year ago

So ,So true, as a retired teacher skills, hard work, dedication have little or no bearing on advancement. The vast majority of Principles are uneducated, petty and lazy,. Honesty is discouraged and the prospects for any meaningful advancement are based usually on who you know and how you vote.

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WOW2016 10 months, 3 weeks ago

This article is extraordinary. There is so much truth encompassed within this article. You can feel the heart of the writer. Probably, seeing the disappointments of those in her circle or based on her very own experience. The truth is, so much of what happens in the Bahamas is politically motivated. The most illiterate individual will be your director of the department. Everything is base on seniority and not true knowledge and leadership ability. The Bahamas is not just experiencing brain drain there is a mass exodus of young movers and shakers who have the ability to shape this country. Why would they come home? What are they coming home to? What level of compensation will they receive when they come? The Government likes to pay outside consultants exuberant sums of money but the same qualified Bahamian will be overlooked Persons in the Bahamas who are considered "educated" and I use the term loosely are the ones that have been most instrumental in blocking the young minds from returning and making great contributions. As a previous comment said "greed and corruption" are the biggest reasons we see this type of behavior in our country. The Prime Minister and government officials have one track minds. It is all about the vote. I don't know when learning will truly take place in the Bahamas. injustice is so great on so many levels. May God bless this young lady for her voice for publically speaking her heart without fear. I applaud you, my dear. May you find success in all you do no matter where your career takes you.

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