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Opinions of Saturday, 9 October 2021

Columnist: Cephas Debrah

Making the most out of your National Service year

Logo of the National Service Scheme (NSS) Logo of the National Service Scheme (NSS)

Before I begin, let me congratulate all National Service persons on their posting to various user agencies across the country to contribute towards the socio-economic development of Ghana.

If you happen to be one of them, remember this period is for you to plan, learn, build a network and inculcate virtues that will help you in years to come and not just to pass out with a certificate.

This 12 months period is a critical stage in your life that should not be downplayed. A lot of people seem to think the year spent in service to their nation is a waste of their abilities and loss of money which they could be earning in the “real world”. Others also describe it as “National Suffering” but not National Service.

Interestingly, whether you will be able to make the most out of this period or not all depends on your mindset. If you really desire to make a difference with your service year, you will need to break free from the wrong mindset and purpose in your heart to make this period worthwhile.

At your workplace

I want you to see this period as your first job or primary place of assignment. Do well to offer the best of yourself irrespective of where you have been posted to. First impression counts.

Be available always, build good relationships with your superiors, colleagues, and even those you might be having higher qualifications than. Their recommendation can secure you your permanent job.

At your place of post, you might be running errands or doing what people call “donkey work” but do it with utmost excellence. This could be a test of your character, temperament, and work ethic.

If you are fortunate to find yourself in an educational institution where you have to assist in teaching students, resolve to be of good example.

The impact you will make in the life of a student won’t affect only him or her but an entire generation. A gentle compliment, a reassuring touch, a workshop or seminar which you organize for these students can be a lasting legacy in their life.

Allowance

On your allowance, I know it is little, but trust me, with proper planning, you can save something. You need to discard the warped mentality that you cannot save from the GHȻ559 given you. Your attitude towards this ‘little’ which you are receiving determines how you will spend your ‘big’ salary someday.

Remember that it is not the amount of money that determines how you spend it; it is your habits that determine your dealings with money. Take advantage of this period to build financial habits which you will need in the years to come. Do not spend before you save but rather, save before you spend.

Let me help you with a guideline; you can use 60% of your monthly allowance on living expenses, 10% as miscellaneous for emergencies, 10 % as tithe, and the rest (20%) as your savings or investment. You can scale these figures up or down based on your expenses and where you live.

Trust me, your savings will become handy when you pass out of NSS. Look around your area of posting if there are business opportunities that you can invest in.

I know some friends that were selling recharge cards, pastries, poultry eggs, bread, and clothing. You can equally engage in photography, farming, beads making or take up some professional or international courses.

Do not let this period go waste. Build yourself up; read wide, impact a life, get abreast with developments in your area of study, take a course.

In all, make sure this period of your life becomes worthwhile.