Despite her love for art, Jameela Jibril decided to study Science Laboratory Technology at the Kogi State Polytechnic to meet the expectations of her dad. Though a degree in medicine and surgery was his choice, but his opinion that spending an extra year at home after an examination would affect cognitive learning influenced her choice of institution and course.
“When I graduated from secondary school, my UTME score was not enough to study medicine and surgery. I wanted the course because my dad was a doctor and my mum is a nurse. He said I should apply for any course my score could get me.”
Having accepted her fate, Jameela, who hails from Okene Local Government of Kogi State, went on to get her Higher National Diploma at the state polytechnic but decided to major in chemistry and biochemistry while hopeful of threading the medical line after school so as not to disappoint her parents.
As such, when she was posted to the National Hospital in Abuja, during her National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), she was filled with excitement about the experience she would garner as a lab technician.
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Now married and nursing a baby, she vowed to be hard-working and dedicated during her one-year stay in the hospital and nursed the thought of getting employed there if her work proved satisfactory to her superiors.
Surprisingly, she was rejected by the hospital on the day she went to submit her document.
The hospital told her they were not accepting corps members but when she said she knew some served in the hospital, the hospital changed its response that there is no longer space to accept more.
But the rejection did not quench the hunger in the search for another hospital but the effort was futile as none they visited accepted her request.
“That kind of broke me. Sometimes I see myself crying as I am not asking them to employ me or pay for my transportation, I just want to have the experience and network. It was unfortunate but it opened my eyes to the reality of how tough the world is.”
She blamed the rejection for not having the necessary connections that would have helped. However, she eventually got a place to serve in an Umrah and Hajj tour travelling agency. Thanks to the connection of her husband.
She also considered being a nursing mother to have influenced her rejection as most organisations don’t want distractions from their employees.
With the service now completed in 2018 and anxious to get busy with activities that would provide income for her, she took up freelancing for Opera News, an online platform.
“After the service, the first thing I started with was writing. I have always been a writer. I started writing for as long as I can remember. I am a science student but I have enthusiasm for art. I write poetry and articles. I also have a blog where I keep journal entries. There was a time, I wrote Islamic fiction and I have about four unpublished fiction works.”
At Opera News, she wrote articles on politics, and news on other trending issues which earned her N11,000 in the first month.
“I was happy and it felt liberating because I did it from my home. However, a lot of things happened and the system was compromised as they did not value the input of some authors. I felt I was being used and I had to let it go.”
After that, she took to graphic design with the help of a friend. The interest arose as she loved drawing and painting as a child but did not focus on them as a science student.
“I saw it as a calling on something I was genuinely passionate about,” she said.
Gradually, she mastered the skills of graphics designing by purchasing online courses which prepared her to move into logo designing.
“I started with my smartphone, I now know how to use Canva and Pixel Lab. I advanced from there to the industry-standard software like Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to create designs for brands.
“Graphic design has done so well for me and has taken me to places my feet would otherwise have not touched.”
She also engages in online mentorship and sells online courses to teach graphic design.
Not to rest on her oars, she took to visual branding that incorporates designing logos and creating appealing visual identities for brands to create recognition for her clients.
This, she said, was possible through surfing the internet for related materials.
Interestingly, her hunting for a place to gather experience as a nurse has shaped her advocacy for women and nursing to consider the internet and digital skills as a source of income.
“I have students within and outside Nigeria. I have also empowered women who are also aiming to have something to leverage digital skills. I see so much potential in it as you can stay in your house and earn some money. In the process, I have coached hundreds of others.
“Part of what made them enthusiastic to reject me as a lab technician was because I was with a child. This is a challenge that affects mothers who want to work from their homes. That is why my focus is on women who would still want to be emotionally present for their kids while being productive at home. This is what I tell most of the women in my coaching circle to use the opportunity to leverage on digital skills.”
She said to be known in the digital space, there is a need for people to be in a circle that can positively influence the work they put out.
“It would not mean anything when you put content out and people can’t see it. It is when people see what you do that they will patronise you.”
On the challenges she faced, self-doubt comes at the top as she raced to keep up with the dynamic changes in using the software, she said.