My name is Angela Karanja and currently, I reside and work in the United States. It is therefore safe to conclude that I am a Kenyan in America Diaspora.
While I hold the thought that no country is superior to another, at least in terms of capacity and ability, I do believe it is individuals who can make or break a nation based on their actions and/or in-actions.
I remember the year 2009 as a year where I got a reawakening, a year that would prove my mettle and fortitude. I lost my beloved dad in January that year and two months later, my sisters and I were involved in a car crash. The car accident, which on the one hand nearly killed me, on the other hand, saved my life because it allowed me to discover who I was and what I could achieve in life.
While things kept going downhill for me, I did not lose sight of who I was and I kept holding on to hope because I am a strong believer in better days always being ahead. I lost a well-paying job same year, and did not find another for two years. It is around this time that I depleted most of my savings in medical and University fees.
While it is easy to say that I kept holding on to hope, the reality is that it was not easy. All my job applications did not come through and my morale was getting dampened. Even though I was scoring lowly in morale and in job pursuit, my academic grades remained GPA high. I managed to stay in school through the Unilever Fair & Lovely scholarship. One of my professor’s proposed the idea of pursuing a scholarship at a prestigious university in America and I never thought much about it, well, at least not until later on!
I graduated Magna cum Laude in 2010 and despite numerous job interviews and a plethora of resumes sent out, I could not find a job. I know some of you may be saying, “why not start business,” but do not even go there. My friend and I learned that gaining tenders in Kenya as a small business owner, at least back then, was the most strenuous and difficult process, which ultimately, would end up in futility. It reached a point that I felt I had explored all my options and I was ready for something different. I was ready to leave. I had tarmacked enough.
I came to America in 2012, welcomed by a beautiful summer. A few months later I would experience a tough winter granted that this is something we do not experience in Kenya. Perhaps it is safe to conclude that I was being welcomed, officially to these United States! The welcome did not just stop there as a few months later, Hurricane Sandy came knocking! However, I had no regrets whatsoever about the shifts in weather
I got my first job as an administrative and human resources assistant with Robert Half International. I also took an evening shift job that summer at a restaurant. I saved some money to buy a decent car, and I had to pay more due to lack of credit history then.
Through Robert Half International, I got the opportunity to work with clients in New York like Deloitte & Touche Tohmatsu and Ernst & Young in different assignments. I learned so much through these companies. I also had to work on my accent in order to ‘fit in,’ in a city New York. Within three and a half months I got promoted to work as a Client Accounts Executive, a role which involves customer service and financial advisory.
The training provided was intensive and the organization would pay for any cost that I incurred relative to any training and furtherance of education. The training that I have received has been very beneficial to my career development as an investment banker. I have grown to appreciate the importance of networking and building professional networks. I have learned that it is easier to grow in America if you put in the work. There are systems in place that make it easier to break the glass ceiling. These are systems devoid of corruption, nepotism, tribalism and other negative isms. Above all, if you have merit in America, you can climb your way up to any position in a short span of time.