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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Applying for International Financial Aid: 5 Steps to Get You Started!

By StudySearch

Studying abroad can be an expensive venture but with financial aid, most international students offset the high costs and go on to pursue their undergraduate and graduate degrees abroad. There are thousands of scholarships, bursaries and student loans available for students from around the world. Here is how to maximize on these opportunities.

1. Research funding opportunities

Look up and write down all funding opportunities that are available for international students. This will enable you to make a checklist and a schedule for each opportunity. Ensure that you meet the eligibility and  that you are aware of the deadlines of each scholarship or loan. There are several scholarship websites that list this information down. Some scholarships favor students who have already acquired part of their fees, so consider applying for several partial scholarships at once.

Note: (Did you know that Study Search is giving away a $500 bursary? Click here to find out more)

2. Talk to your referees

Most scholarships ask for recommendation letters from your referees. These can be academic or professional or a combination of both. Have a chat with your referees, well before the due date, and discuss your academic goals, career objectives and where you are planning to study. This will give them a clear view of what to write in your recommendation letters. Make sure your referees are people who know you on a personal level and not just lecturers who would probably struggle to remember your name. Remember, a poor reference can cost you a financial aid.

3. Know the specifics of yours or your parents’ financial situation

While this may be a touchy topic, financial aid institutions may ask for your, your parents’ or guardians financial situation. This information is kept private and is just a way for the committee to determine if you really need financial aid. Have this information handy so that you don’t give the wrong information.

4. Prepare writing samples (if necessary)

Most scholarship committees ask that you provide an essay that details your academic and career objectives, as well as why you need a scholarship. This is a valuable opportunity to have your voice heard. These committees want to learn more about you, and what you are likely to do with your degree once you graduate. Make sure that you take adequate time to write the essay. You can even ask one (or all of your referees) to review it for you and to make sure that it is perfect.

5. Apply early

You can do all the preparation in the world, but if you miss a deadline, it is very unlikely that your application will even be considered. Make sure that you have all your documents ready before the due date and that your referees are aware of the deadline. We recommend having a schedule where you can set a deadline for preparing your essays and handing in your recommendation letters.



Are you looking for the easiest way to apply to universities abroad? Get help from top peer advisors. StudySearch is the simplest way for International students to apply to universities abroad. We connect International students with top peer advisors that have experience successfully studying abroad.

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Five Growth Principles for Budding Entrepreneurs

By Adepeju Jaiyeoba
Today, let's talk about business growth and the principles that spur them. As always, I will be drawing from my personal experience.
1. Realize that there are opportunities in every problem. It could be an opportunity to learn or start something new. The Idea for Mother's Delivery Kit occurred after meeting a baby whose umbilical cord had been severed with a rusty blade infecting him with neonatal Tetanus. Dig out the opportunity in that problem before you today!
2. Large doses of patience and persistence. So you have this big dream for your project and hope that someday your product will be in every home or get everyone talking about you but it just doesn't seem to be happening yet. Relax, keep at it, continue to build innovative products, make strategic contacts and keep shinning in your own little corner.
3. Listen to your Market. I know you think your product is awesome and will make a hit like Tuface's African Queen but pause for a while after prototypes have been sent out and listen to your market. There is nothing in our Mothers Delivery Kit that isn't the result of feeling market pulses and meeting a need. Your ultimate consumer determines your growth. Listen to them!
4. Don't just listen to your market, analyse their feedback and act! I remember Mother's Delivery Kit had up to three modifications before arriving at the present pack we have. I also remember that the two new kit variant we currently have are a result of market demand and needs. Listen. Analyse. Act. I can't say this enough!
Staff assessing Mother' Delivery Kits
5. Never lower your standards! I know times are tough for businesses and the economy isn't even smiling but lowering your standards and cutting corners on quality could have dire consequences on your growth. I remember meeting a manufacturer who was trying to introduce a cheaper delivery mat to us. 
Our medical team tested the level of absorption of this new mat and found it was very low. So even though we would be making more profit from the mats we decided against working with that manufacturer because it would mean lowering our quality and standards. If we say we are giving you the best sterile supplies for childbirth, it's only fair we keep our promise.
These are the five growth principles that have helped and are still helping me. I hope you find them useful too.
About the Author
Adepeju Opeyemi Jaiyeoba (OD’s June YPOM ) is a Nigerian trained lawyer and founder of Brown Button Foundation, an NGO established to help curb the high mortality rates in Nigeria. She is a White House Emerging Global Entrepreneur 2015 and a 2014 Mandela Washington F
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Moving from Idea to Market: How to Test your Big Idea

By Adepeju Jaiyeoba

In 2013 when Mothers Delivery Kit started production with 200 prototype packs, I remember our process of moving from idea to market, making changes to meet market demands and failing forward. Mothers' Delivery Kit went through at least three modifications before we arrived at the generally acceptable pack we have now. 

Yesterday, as I tried to introduce a new product in addition to Mothers Delivery kit, I watched one of our customers place an order for hundreds of the product in advance and I realized the process of moving from ideas to market hasn't really changed. 

Let's talk about this today. So you have a big idea, whether product or service, and you are ready to test, how do you move from idea to the market? Here are a few tips from my personal experience.
  1. Don't just sell, get feedback - Because the best products are the ones who listen to the market and are quick to learn from mistakes, you need to have an open communication system. Your focus shouldn't just be about selling, you must run after getting feedback especially from your first users.
  2. NO doesn't Kill! - Tell people about your product and services, distribute samples, ask for a purchase, the worst you can get is a NO and it doesn't kill! I remember calling hospitals, pharmacies, and walking through communities talking about the kits. I remember visiting village heads, midwives and traditional birth attendants to earn their trust and purchase. Some bought and are our customers till date. I would never have sold to them if I didn't ask.
  3. Sharpen your interpersonal relationship skills - When trying to move your idea to the market, you will need to sharpen your relationship skills. Sometimes people buy your product and remain loyal customers simply because you are a nice, cool, happy go lucky person who they see as a friend. Personally, beyond selling, I like to have personal relationship with my customers. We talk family, politics, personal development and all.
  4. Make good use of social media - Beyond liking, commenting and changing profile pictures, use social media for your business. The first 5,000 kits we sold in 2014 was sold via social media. We didn't have a high budget for advertising so we leverage fully on social media platforms especially Facebook, Twitter and BBM.
  5. Identify your target - Narrow down your target market and map out the best way to get to them. Think up personal contact you have within the target market space and ask them for help. You will be surprised how far they will go to help you with leads.
Please take that step and move your ideas to the market today. Let's grow together.
About the Author
Adepeju Opeyemi Jaiyeoba (OD’s June YPOM ) is a Nigerian trained lawyer and founder of Brown Button Foundation, an NGO established to help curb the high mortality rates in Nigeria. She is a White House Emerging Global Entrepreneur 2015 and a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow inspiring many young people to achieve their dreams.
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Friday, 3 July 2015

How to Kickstart Your Big Idea without Funding

Our Young Person of the Month for June 2015, Adepeju Jaiyeoba from Nigeria dished out four (4) lessons from her personal experiences with 'Mothers' Delivery Kit' a product produced and distributed by her organization, the Brown Button Foundation. We thought to share these with you to help you move that awesome idea off the ground into the market.

Read: How to Kickstart Your Amazing Idea without Funding

Over the last couple of weeks, I have received messages seeking advice from individuals with lots of amazing ideas they are struggling to kickstart due to lack of funding. I'm sharing my personal experience with Mother's Delivery Kit and drawing some lessons from it.

Mothers' Delivery kit was started in 2013 with 30,000 Naira (about 130 USD), our first production batch was 200 kits. Today, we have non equity seeking investors, zero loans from banks and have sold over 20,000 kits. What are the big lessons for start ups here?

1. Start small. Wanting to start big with a bang is often a challenge we face when starting our company. However, easy does it. Our first production at Mothers Delivery Kit was 200 kits. Today, we have produced over 20,000 kits. Starting small is key especially when funding is a challenge. By starting small you are also able to minimise risks by measuring market response to your business.

2. Prune your idea to size. We all have big dreams. Very big dreams. But where funding is a challenge, we must be willing to prune our ideas and find growing slowly acceptable. Mothers Delivery kit is a smaller version of a bigger picture, it was simply pruned to size to fit our budget.

3. Focusing on people, knowledge and network before cash. Many of those who reached out to me focused on cash. They needed money and it was all they thought they needed and wanted. However, one key lesson is this, there are more than one ways to get investors in your business. Build trust and friendship especially as investment is all about trust.

4. Leverage fully on available resource. So you have a spare room in your house? Why don't you start your office from there? Recruit volunteers to assist your work, talk friends rendering professional services into providing some free advice or services for your company. Minimise cost as much as you can.

Ideas are cheap, implementation is the real deal! Remember that some of the best ideas the world would have had today are in the graveyard. Don't over plan, don't over think, just get started! Commit to take a step towards implementation today.

- Adepeju Jaiyeoba

Adepeju Opeyemi Jaiyeoba (OD’s June YPOM ) is a Nigerian trained lawyer and founder of Brown Button Foundation, an NGO established to help curb the high mortality rates in Nigeria. She is a White House Emerging Global Entrepreneur 2015 and a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow inspiring many young people to achieve their dreams.

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Saturday, 30 May 2015

"I've learnt to think globally, beyond my local understanding." - Highlights from the Chat with Victoria Ibiwoye

If you missed the Facebook Live Chat with the Opportunity Desk May Young Person of the Month, then this summary will help you catch up on all that happened!

Victoria Ibiwoye is the May 2015 Young Person of the Month - a 21-year-old youth leader from Nigeria who is currently pursuing a Law degree at the prestigious University of Ibadan. She is the founder of the OneAfricanChild Initiative. During the chat, she shared her views on Youth Development, Education and dished out strategies to help you can prepare yourself ahead to be selected for great opportunities around the world.

Find below, excerpts from the chat:

Magne Rosy: Hello Victoria, what inspired you to start One-Africa Child?

Victoria Ibiwoye;
Hi Magne smile emoticon , I was inspired by the need to fill a need in my community. I wanted to invest in the lives of children so that they can grow to be the best for the world.

Babajide Oluwase: Hi Victoria, how best do you think inexperienced individuals can go about preparing solid applications for international opportunities, especially in cases where experiences are required.

Victoria Ibiwoye:
Experience is not an event, it is a life-long process. Once I was in-experience, even now, I am still learning. My advice to keep on learning new thing, acquiring more knowledge within and out of school. This internet has made it so easy to access materials and connect with young people who are better experienced. My advice is to make the best of everyday - How we spend our day is how we eventually spend our lives.

Fashola Samson: Hi Victoria! I had been nominated twice for international opportunities, IsfiT & TAVRIDA precisely. But visa denial stood as a stumbling block against my attendance. Please, what systematic way(s) had you adopted in obtaining visa for international events?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
Hello Fashola, sorry about that. One of my friends once experienced the same. In order avoid this, I recommend that you find out about the embassy where you'll apply for visa, get all required documents ahead of time and contact your sponsors to contact the embassy on your behalf before visiting. This helps. Remember to be polite and comply with necessary instructions while at the embassy. If you have to go through an interview session, search online for possible questions and prepare well ahead of time. Above all, pray smile emoticon I wish you all the best with future opportunities.

Zaidat N. Ibrahim: Tell us a bit about One-Africa Child and how you got inspired to start this initiative?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
One African Child started as a dream. I am passionate about helping children discover their potientials. I was inspired by young people from around the world who are making huge differences in very little ways. I simply wanted the children of my community to aspire to be different so I started to educate and empower them first.

Magne Rosy: What gives you the daily motivation? When feel tired, or when you do not have energy, what keeps you going?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
Magne Rosy, I started with the little I had. I started to inspire children to be great, I shared with them some of my old books to read. I shared this event on Facebook and got more people to support me. Because the initiative moved from "me" to "we", it is today, more sustainable.

Fashola Samson: Majority of international opportunities require you take care of your transportation to and fro. Please, how do you source for your Airfare as a Youth with little or no income?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
True. You can crowfund. Check more about this online. You can as well write to Governmental/ Non-governmental bodies for support. If you plan to use any of these options, please start early.

Zaidat N. Ibrahim: How do you deal with rejections? And what’s your advice for people who received rejections from opportunities they applied after a rigorous application process?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
Hi Zaidat, truth is, it hurts to be rejected. However, what matters is not how we feel but how we handle it. For me, I see this as an opportunity to improve. This mindset has really helped me to build better applications for the right programmes. I advice young people to continuing improving on themselves, this reduces the chances of being rejected. prepare ahead for what is to come.

Magne Rosy: What do you think are winning arguments, what can we do to have all the chances on our side, when we apply for international trainings?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
To have winning arguments when applying for international trainings:
For international trainings, I have learnt to think from a globally, beyond my local understanding. For such applications, we must be aware of the competitiveness & work towards having a distinct application. Take time to research about the programme, why you really want to apply and what you hope to acheive. This helps in defining why you should be considered as a good candidate. You must also be willing to accept that not all applications suits your qualification.

Wiem Askri: What is your advice for a successful interview, I got accepted to some opportunities but then in the interview process I get rejected. what do you think is the best way to prepare for this!

Victoria Ibiwoye:
Prepare ahead. I normally research about the organisation/theme of the event I am applying for before I apply, after I apply, if I get selected, the research continues in preparation towards the event. you can also try to connect with past participants and learn from them. This helps!

Jude D'genius Ogar: Victoria Ibiwoye how can young people who have nothing actually affect lives?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
There is always something great within us. God did not creat us empty. We can make use of our gifts/talents/skills/knowledge to affect lives positively.

Chrissy Michael: Hello Victor,do you think that the government have done enough to combat these challenge the young people are witnessing today by being rejected during the application of Visa process. If yes, how?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
Chrissy, it's really disappointing that we are limited in visiting countries of our choice. We need to channel our challenges in calling for call for the right leadership. These are issues that we must continue to bring the attention of our leaders to. If we keep trying, maybe someday, you and I won't need a visa to visit the country of our choice.

Mohamed Abozaid: In your opinion, what  do we need generally for development?

Victoria Ibiwoye:
For development, we need Peace. There is no development without peace & there is no peace without development. Peace and development are like two sides of the same coin and that involves the collective effort of every citizen, culture and religion.

Magne Rosy:
How do you think we can encourage youths to achieve social positive change? Espacially those in rural communities who do not see any any hope for a better future, in our african countries?

Fasoranti Fash Damilola:
The rural community especially needs most of us in the city, same way most of us in the city needs the rural communities to survive. The biggest encouragement for today's youth is a personal inside energy to see a better world. On another side, nothing will change darkness if we don't strike the first match. Success stories from youths doing amazing stuffs in rural communities is enough to get us running.

Omozojie Aigbogun: Hello Victoria, I am a member of Samuel Counselling Corner and founder Youthful and Powerful.. I have a passion to motivate youths and teens towards academic achievement and one way we do this is by donation of books by Ben Carson and other authors but funding has been a major issue. How do you deal with funding in ur area of expertise?? 2) How do you combine what you do with your studies....Thanks and wish you all the best....Thanks opportunity desk

Victoria Ibiwoye:
I am proud of what you are doing to make a difference. For funding, we have written to individuals and organisations who might be interested in our work. You may try the same, it is best to write to organisations/companies in line with your project. Combining school work with my organisation's activities has taught me about planing. I had had to plan strategically how to spend my day. This is easier said than done, we need to be disciplined and learn to strike a balance.

Chrissy Michael: Finally Victoria, how can the youth prepare themselves with the advance technologies at their disposal in other to be relevance in this digital world today.

Victoria Ibiwoye:
Hello Chrissy, young people must go the extra mile to acquire relevant skills needed for the 21st century. Without acquiring knowledge, there is no way to maximise what we already have because it looks difficult. Our problem is not necessarily access to opportunities but what to do with these opportunities. We as youths must constantly work to develop competences that will help us become better leaders today and tomorrow.


Chrissy Michael Victoria: Thank you for a job well done by attending to all the questions.God bless you. Up #OD
Like · Reply · 1

Magne Rosy: Thank you very much Opportunity Desk. I got very useful tips for the future from this chat.

Victoria Ibiwoye: Thank you Opportunity Desk for such a unique platform as this. Dear young leaders, I wish I could answer all your questions, feel free to connect with me on Twitter. Together, we can achieve more.

Don't miss the next one. Join us at OpportunityDesk to follow live updates!
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Friday, 29 May 2015

BUILT TO LAST: Keys to Building Strong Network Relationships

Many of us know that as youths, it is important that we network properly with the people we meet everyday in school and on campus. This is true because your success can sometimes be influenced by who you know.

The problem though for most youths is how to find a balance in such relationships with other youths of very different backgrounds, temperaments, lifestyles, beliefs and thinking processes. Below are five keys that will help you.

This is paramount and very sensitive. Don’t appear in a way that’ll make people take you for less than you are. Someone once said that people will first see you before they hear you. So, be devoted to excellence in your dressing and make up. Also, always wear a smile or at least a cheerful look; it will make people feel they are around a successful person.

Never highlight your accomplishments except when you are asked to or when the need arises. People really don’t like to be around those they feel have overtaken them in life. You remain an accomplisher whether or not you trumpet it. Also, don’t have proud looks.

What you say, how you say it and when you say it can be as damaging as it can be very helpful. You can use your worlds to strengthen a weakening relationship and you can as well use them to crumble a good relationship. So, be careful. Also try as much as possible to be calm and very fluent when you speak.

Arguments always come up that expose differences in beliefs, morals and temperaments. So, if a relationship is beneficial to you and you don’t want any of the above to come in the way, then learn to focus your efforts on finding common grounds and areas on which you agree, rather than focusing on what tears you apart or your differences. Like Barak Obama once put it, “The bonds that hold us together are more potent than the forces that divide us”.

Learn to praise people for the smart things they do. Don’t praise them at their back but right before them and openly. Appreciate them for what they have been through and for how far they have come. Be generous enough to do that and people will always love to be around you.


(Joshua is an Electronic and Electrical Engineering student at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, a speaker and an author of a best-selling book. This short but loaded piece would inspire you to adjust your attitude and build a strong network relationship with others).
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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Melissa Cara Marie from Canada selected for Women Deliver's Young Leaders Fellowship Program

Melissa Cara Marie writes from Canada to share her success story with us. She is one of the 200 youth leaders selected for the Women Deliver's three-year Young Leaders Fellowship Program and Scholarship to attend the 2016 Conference in Denmark.

Read more about her below:

I'm Melissa from Toronto, Canada. I am one of the 200 young people selected for the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. I currently work in government research/statistics. My background is in women's development, specifically human rights and freedoms within the context of international law. I'm also passionate about youth advocacy and engaging young people in development. 

I'm really excited about this three year fellowship and to be given the opportunity to make meaningful change with other young leaders from all over the world. Thank you to Opportunity Desk for making me aware of this fellowship and for prioritizing youth!

Find what you are passionate about and follow that passion endlessly. It is always worth the risk."

- Melissa Cara Marie

Thank you Melissa, for writing to us and sharing your story. Best wishes.

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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Wiem Askri from Tunisia selected for Full Scholarship to Women Deliver Conference in Denmark

Wiem Askri from Tunisia is one of the young women selected to receive full scholarship to attend the Women Deliver Conference 2016 in Denmark. She has sent us her story of success. Even though she got several rejections, she kept improving herself and trying her best, and has not regretted it.

Read her story and be inspired!

I want to share my success story with you all. I was accepted for a scholarship to attend Women Deliver Conference in Denmark:

I have been following Opportunity Desk for about two years now, and I am really thankful to all the opportunities that keep being posted all the time, a lot of chances for everyone from around the world no matter what their interests are.

Even though I got several rejections, I kept improving myself and trying my best, and when I read about the Women Deliver scholarship on OD, I was very excited and worked hard to get my application ready in time, and now that I got accepted I want to thank you for being the ones who introduced this opportunity to me. 

Now I can proudly say that I am on my way to prove that being a woman is not a handicap as long as we keep preserving and doing our bests."
Thank you so much OD. You rock!

Thank you Wiem for writing to us and sharing your story. Best wishes.

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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Berabose Aline Joyce from Rwanda shares her amazing story with Opportunity Desk

We could not be more grateful to receive this beautiful piece by Berabose Aline Joyce from Rwanda.

Before her 18th birthday, Joyce had received invitation to travel to London for a debating camp. Since then, she has participated in many international programs including: the Global Youth Forum in USA, Isfit 2015 in Norway, UN Changemakers Summit in Switzerland and the Cambridge University Women's Open debate in UK. She is one of the young people receiving full scholarship to participate in the Women Deliver Conference scheduled in May 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Read her story below and be inspired!

Before I travelled to London for a debating camp, I wrongly assumed that traveling was a privilege for rich families. I could not imagine anyone spending hundreds and often thousands of dollars on someone like me for a training. But it happened to me, not once, not twice but several times.

After posting a video on youtube I was contacted to apply for a training in the UK and was offered a full scholarship just before I turned 18. There are amazing opportunities for young people who are committed to make a positive change in their community and in the world. Opportunity Desk is an excellent tool to find these life changing opportunities.

You may apply and get rejected several times but my advice is not to give up. 

I look at OD almost everyday before I go to bed and I apply at least once a month or two. If you are wondering what next since my trip to London, and on full scholarships, I also participated in the Global Youth Forum in USA, Isfit 2015 in Norway, UN Changemakers Summit in Switzerland and I even returned to UK to debate at Cambridge University Women's Open.

I am also thrilled I will be participating in the Women Deliver Conference scheduled in May 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

- Berabose Aline Joyce (Watch her Video)

Simply amazing. Thank you Joyce for writing to us and sharing your story. Best wishes.

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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Mohamed Abozaid from Egypt shares his success with the UNAOC Forum in Bali and more

We are pleased to receive this amazing success story by Mohamed Abozaid from Egypt. He has been following Opportunity Desk and has leveraged on some of the opportunities posted. His success with the UNAOC Forum in Bali, Indonesia in 2014 highlights his breakthrough. Read all about it and be encouraged to keep trying.

I coincidentally discovered Opportunity Desk while surfing online for some courses - and later, I have found that, it was one of the most amazing Coincidences that happen to me ever!

My breakthrough came when I applied for the 2014 UNAOC Forum in Bali, Indonesia. Actually, I just applied and did my best to fill that long application and write those essays. About 2 months later, they replied me that I have been selected and I have to be ready to go to Bali.

Actually till the last moment I didn't believe that, until I went there and met 100 of the best youth leaders worldwide whom became not only my motivation during the program, but also friends for the future!

That experience made me think wider and get more experience. It was my 1st introduction to UN Forums. After this, I applied to a Certified Training Program with the World Youth Alliance and I am almost through with the course. 

For the great time that I had in Bali, for the friendship and relationships that I built and for many open doors, thank you so much Opportunity Desk, for helping and supporting us, Nothing is more noble than offering hands and helping others - that's what you actually do all time!

Warmest Regards,

Thank you for writing to us and sharing your story. Best wishes.

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Edidiong Umoh receives Scholarship to attend Women Deliver 2016 Conference in Denmark

We are pleased to hear from Edidiong Umoh from Nigeria on her selection for a FULL Scholarship to attend the Women Deliver 2016 Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The scholarships are awarded to incredible youth advocates, under the age of 30, who are working to advance the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women in their community and around the world.

Edidiong now has the chance to serve as a youth representative at the conference and connect with the wide range of policymakers, donors, activists, and journalists in attendance. Read her statement below:

"I am so grateful to the Opportunity Desk administration, I have applied for a lot of the opportunities I see here, and found it so discouraging at some point. Today, I am so glad that I am successful and that I didn't give up. Thanks to OD, I love you so much.

If you are out there, passionate about something, then don't quit trying, take advantage of these great opportunities, and keep trying. You will be glad you didn't quit" - Edidiong Umoh

We are so excited for you, and wish you the best!

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

6 Steps to Winning a Fully Funded International Opportunity

By Uju Silver

I understand the difficulty involved in getting an all-expenses-paid offer to attend a conference or an internship. It is usually very difficult and extremely competitive. Nonetheless, this should not deter you from trying again and again.

A lot of us want to travel abroad on all expense paid trips, gain international experience and build our CVs but here are my own tips that can help prepare you and give you the opportunity you desire.

  1. Identify your niche and the type of conference you want to attend. This is very key in getting the opportunity to attend a conference, or getting an internship. There are specialized programs and there are general ones. It's important that you identify the kinds of conferences and internships you are interested in. Don’t try to do everything. Be selective.
  2. Start Local. You may not have the opportunity now to attend conferences abroad but there are conferences in your country or locality that you can attend to help build your capacity. Start with local seminars, events, symposia and other capacity building programs that can be of help.
  3. Volunteer and Intern Locally. This is one of the most difficult parts for young people but it is very essential. The desire to make quick money and the economic situations we all find ourselves makes it very difficult to do this. But it is the starting point. People need to see that you have the experience and that you are someone they can work with. They need to see that you have the experience, you are loyal, committed and money is not the drive for you. They need to see that you are interested in gaining experience and adding value.
  4. Always Review your Applications. We do not know all. Therefore it is important that you have someone who is more knowledgeable in the field you are interested in and can help review your application. Constantly go back to your applications. You will see that you are getting better in terms of your writing style, content, sentences and approach.
  5. Always have a Support Folder. All applications cannot be the same and do not have the same criteria, structure or guidelines. It is therefore important that every application you send out is saved somewhere. Always save your personal statements, Motivation letters and previous applications. You will need them. The more you keep going back to previous applications the better your applications will get
  6. Don’t Stop Trying. Many of us are always discouraged when we get emails that start like this “Dear… we are pleased that you are actively involved in…. and we encourage your efforts. However due to the large number of applications we have received, we are unable to proceed with your application. You can follow the event via Facebook, twitter and YouTube. We look forward to hearing about your activities. We look forward to your application next year”

I know you can relate to this. I have read it severally that I wrote this from my head without having to go back to previous mails of reject, failed applications and disappointment. My attitude has become one of “what is the worse that could happen?”

Actually, what is the worse that could happen? The worse is that you will be rejected again and life continues. Equate this with the number of “NOs”, failed courses, failed relationships, failed dates, failed job interviews, job applications and you are still carrying on with so much hope, faith and vigor that someday it will get better.

That tells you that these applications are just a tip of the iceberg, a tip of the greatness that is going to come your way. If other people can get it then you can. Imagine how many times you have been singled out of many people to be honored. That means that you can be selected.

Now go ahead to to get your opportunity. I wish you the best!

Ononuju Silver

Ononuju is a graduate of International Law and Diplomacy from Babcock University. He is passionate about contemporary development issues such as leadership, education, peace building, conflict prevention, security, poverty alleviation, social change, volunteering, youth participation and governance. Uju is a recipient of the 2015 UN Exchange Learning Internship in Geneva.
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Monday, 16 March 2015

10 Interesting Facts about Arguments

Are you among those who think that being in an argument is a negative thing, or imagine an argument as being a dispute, and will do anything to avoid one?

There is so much that can be done with arguments; debate, discussion, advocacy, propaganda, education and learning.  Question then is, what are arguments?

Arguments are elements in argumentation. An argument comprises of a claim/assertion (what you propose), support (reasons to back up your claim), and evidence (analysis, examples to further validate your claim and support).

Please note that there is a difference between arguments and argumentation. One could make arguments to advance a position, idea or view without necessarily getting involved in argumentation.

Here are 10 interesting facts worth knowing about arguments;

1. Arguments can be used to move an audience:
Through arguments, we can get people to feel or act a certain way. In a speech, an argument can be used to gain the belief of your audience. An example is the Barrack Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech.

2. They can drive points home
I bet you agree with me on this. At home, in school, board meetings, church and contests. We just can’t do without them.

3. They can redirect questioning
Prior to an argument, your audience or persons listening to you, had a particular view or mindset towards certain issues, but at the end of your argument, they is a possibility of these persons shifting their views; they begin to ask new questions based on the lines of arguments you follow. Thoughts such as; “could that be so”, “I never thought it this way”

4. Lines of arguments can be followed
This basically is the direction, pattern of reasoning or basis on which an argument is made.

5. Those who argue can take logical leaps
Those who argue go beyond the status quo; they do more than following existing lines of arguments, they create arguments.

6. They can sway opponents
Arguments are the best way to influence or change the opinion of your opponent.

7. People can retreat from claims
A claim is a basically a proposition, what this means is that a claim on its own is not an argument, therefore, we can retreat from original views we had about certain things based on the support or evidence we get from another point of view. Example; a claim that Africa is a continent can be retreated from with relevant support and evidence that shows that Africa is a continent.

8. Those who argue can push ideas
We can put forth or make our ideas known through arguments

9. Arguments can be used to advance positions
Many popular views held by the world today were advanced by means of arguments. Example; the shape of the earth is that of an Ellipsoid

10. People who argue come to conclusions
Based on the claim, support and evidence presented to us on a particular view or idea, we decide what to believe.

Alas! We’ve come to the end of today’s thought on Arguments. I am glad you are still with me, so final thoughts;

Barrack Obama argued his way to the white house, Aristotle, Einstein and other great men, made arguments to advance their ideas, theories, policies and views. Start making yours today and it could win you the next big opportunity on Opportunity Desk!

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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Ononuju Silver from Nigeria wins the UN Exchange Learning Internship in Geneva

We are always excited to hear about your achievements and breakthroughs. Okwaraogoma Ononuju Silver is one of the people we are proud of - he has been following Opportunity Desk, applied severally and rejected severally but he never gave up and alas, got an early Christmas gift last year.

In 2014, Uju applied for the UN Exchange Learning Internship, sponsored by Irish Aid and got selected. He will also be attending the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Read the recount of his experience below and be inspired to #keeptrying!

I always thought traveling abroad was a big deal and the opportunities available to attend them were just limited to scholarships and letters of invitation. That perspective changed when I found Opportunity Desk.  It was new to me and I couldn't believe that there are so many opportunities for young people to attend conferences, get scholarships and many more on the same platform.  

I started applying... 

And I was turned down severally.... 

I was invited for a few others but they were not fully-funded. But I continued to improve on myself and my applications. Then in 2014, I applied  for the UN Exchange Learning Internship in Geneva. To my greatest surprise I got it.  

Yes I got it... 

And courtesy of, I have the opportunity to be a part of the program and also attend the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. 

What seemed far fetched and impossible is now a reality... 

I owe this trip to the entire Opportunity Desk team - you do not know the life transforming things you do. If only you knew. Sincerely I am open to working with your team to create more opportunities for other young people.

- Uju Silver

Congratulations and all the best, from all of us!

Have you been successful in any of your applications? Be an inspiration to others by sharing your story with us. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.
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Friday, 27 February 2015

Grabbing the Right Int'l Opportunity: 4 Things to Note!

Have you ever watched many of the young people around you travel from one country to another, attending several international programs (training programs, conferences, forums…), establishing strong bonds with persons from the four corners of the planet ; and wondered how they made it?

Well, in this article, I will share with you the highlights of what I learnt during the past ten years; since I have been blessed to be part of miscellaneous international programs.

1. You have to start with joining an international Network.

Trust me, it is hard to do it by yourself: if you are reading my article then you are in the right place. You are so lucky to be part of the Opportunity Desk‘s FAMILY. You can find the high spots here but still do not be lazy and search for more; you can contribute on enriching the content of this blog.  Sharing is a key, start doing it and you will be impressed by the others’ responses.

2. The second main point is to be honest with yourself.

Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses other than your budget. You have to admit the fact that some of the opportunities out there are beyond your potential ‘for now’ or not within your field of speciality. In other words, you will neither bring too much to the people you will meet nor learn from them in a productive way. In such circumstances, you have to step away, and it is fine. There will be something else.

3. Once you find the opportunity that perfectly fits you, by deeply reading the application requirements and obviously its main topic, take the time to fill the application: NEVER EVER RUSH.

Ask your closest friends about their opinions; make research even if you think you have enough information about the topic, after all, enough is never enough.

4. Do not forget that it is a competition and thousands may apply. So, you have to BE OUTSTANDING.

Never underestimate yourself, do your best and never give up even if you might be rejected many times. Keep trying, you have no idea how much you will learn during the whole process.

Best of Luck!



Sabrine Hamdi is a Tunisian dentist. She followed her studies in the Faculty of Dentistry in Monastir. For over ten years, she took part of several international programs whether with UNAOC, Peace Child International or the Euro-Mediterranean Youth Parliament among others. She is an alumna of both the UNESCO Chair and the MEPI program. Besides, she committed herself to various social service activities at the national and international levels. Find here on Facebook.
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Ignite your Reading Habit with Okadabooks

Have you been looking for ways to spark up your reading habit? Well, you don't have to worry anymore. While searching the PlayStore android application on my mobile phone today for something new and interesting, I found Okadabooks - a fast, simple and fun way to read books without ever blinking leaving your couch! It’s book reading, reinvented.

We found some of our favourite books including;

  1. Preserve My Saltiness by Jennifer Ehidiamen
  2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  3. Best Friends Forever by Myne Whitman
  4. How Laziness Saved My Life and How Stupidity Saved My Life by Okechukwu Ofili
  5. Diary of a Desperate Naija Woman by Bola Essien-Nelson
  6. And lots more

To start, download and install Okadabooks in your Android device >>> send a text , choose a book, then download and start reading – it’s as easy as riding an okada. It’s even cheaper than riding an Okada! Books cost from as low as N20 to as much as N175. There are also free books.

If you are an author looking for the best way to publish your work, consider publishing with Okadabooks. Authors make about 20% on each sale.

Here is the Idea - Mobile devices have been blamed for the poor reading culture in Nigeria. But rather than criticizing mobile devices and accepting the notion that Nigerians don’t read…okadabooks seeks to harness the power of the mobile phone to make it easier and cheaper for Nigerians to read. At the end of the day they are powered by the belief that Nigerians do indeed read, if given the chance.

I know you are getting excited already and you may want to find out more. Simply go to

Okadabooks will ignite your reading habit and get your book published if you are really talented!
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How to Fundraise for your Project or Initiative on StartSomeGood

The scariest word to some and the most exciting venture to others. While fundraising can be a daunting process for especially beginners and start up organisations, it can also be a worthwhile and exciting venture.
Well, we found a great funding platform – StartSomeGood

StartSomeGood is a peer-funding platform for broadly-progressive social impact projects and organizations. While their focus is on social entrepreneurship as a vehicle for creating change they support all forms of changemaking: entrepreneurial, advocacy and activism, community organizing, research and information provision and inspiration.

They envision a world where everyone can be a changemaker, where communities can create the future they want and governance is citizen-focused and responsive. Their goal is to build the world’s best mobilizing platform for changemakers, allowing them to raise the funds, grow the community and gain the skills and contacts they need to make a difference. may just be the perfect platform to raise funds for your project.
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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

25 Marketing Strategies for your Youth Projects and Venture

Many of you have project ideas you want to kick off the ground. Some of you have already launched some ideas. The need to market your project, venture or organization is something that cannot be ruled out as it is necessary to promote what you do and get support. We believe that as you seek for opportunities across the globe to enhance your skills, further your work or gain relevance, some marketing strategies will be a good help for your projects or ventures.

Marketing Strategies

The following is a list of twenty five ways to market your Project - as identified by Ashoka's Youth Venture. Some of these options may be more relevant to your Venture than others. This isn’t an exhaustive list; be creative and keep developing new ways to let people know about your Venture!

  1. Create a website for your project. This can be done free through Wordpress or Blogger.
  2. Write a newsletter that you send out periodically—by email or regular mail—to update people on your Project’s activities.
  3. Keep a blog about your project. Write frequently - once or twice a week - on any activities around your venture.
  4. Keep a bulletin board with up-to-date information about your project.
  5. Develop a logo that people will recognize and associate with your project.
  6. Create T-shirts, pens, and other merchandise with your name and logo.
  7. Create posters and ask permission to hang them in your school, at local businesses, and around town.
  8. Set up informational tables during school lunches, in student unions, or at community events. Create a large sign with your logo for your table.
  9. Distribute your business cards whenever you can.
  10. Learn how to talk about your project—then tell everyone about it!
  11. Use testimonials. Ask someone supportive for a quote about your Venture and then include that quote in flers, newsletters, and other promotional materials.
  12. Create a video that highlights your Venture’s activities. You can post this video on your website, show it at events, and distribute it to supporters and potential supporters of your Venture.
  13. Hold events that appeal to many types of people.
  14. Write a press release whenever big events or activities occur and send it to local newspapers, TV stations, and other types of media.
  15. Invite local newspapers to your events.
  16. Advertise upcoming events on the local radio or in local newspapers.
  17. Publicize events and meetings on your school’s morning announcements or in your school’s newspaper.
  18. Call people directly on the phone to tell them about upcoming events.
  19. Use free classified ads on the Internet or in local newspapers.
  20. Take pictures at all of your events. These pictures may come in handy later when you’re creating fl yers and brochures.
  21. Connect with already-established organizations that would be willing to talk about or support your project.
  22. Send flyers and brochures through email or regular mail to as many people as possible.
  23. Barter your service/product for other services/products that your project needs.
  24. Mail postcards to community members to advertise your Venture and request donations.
  25. Offer gift certificates or coupons for free or reduced-cost products and services.

Culled from Ashoka's Youth Venture "Dream It. Do It." Action Kit.
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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Winning a Job Interview: 10 things You Must Know

Many job seekers fail to secure jobs due to high competition or lack of adequate skill which the employers are looking for. In this article, I will share tips on how you can position yourself above other candidates during job interview. The list is endless but these few are some of the ones I have observed overtime.

1. Arrive the venue early

There are many reasons why you need to get to the venue early. Aside the fact that there may be delay on your way due to traffic, arriving early helps you to relax your mind before the commencement of the interview. It also helps you to familiarize yourself with the office environment and probably ask any necessary questions ahead of the interview. Most recruitment firm also considers arriving early to the interview as a sign of seriousness on the part of the job seeker.

2. Good dress sense

It is not enough to wear good dress; you need to wear it appropriately. Dressing well is not all about wearing expensive wears; it needs to fit the occasion. For example, wearing patterned tie on pattern shirt looks odd. Also, wearing patterned shirt on patterned trouser is inappropriate. No matter how expensive the dress is, if it is not worn appropriately, it can put off your interviewer. 

For ladies, excessive makeup should be avoided. Interviewers most times decide whether to give you attention based on your outlook. No matter how intelligent you may be, when you dress inappropriately, your interviewers may lose interest in what you have to say. Here is my recommendation; you can wear a dark coloured suit or any cool coloured shirt on dark trouser or skirt as the case maybe. Being formal most times is preferable. You can however, visit the organization prior to your interview date to see how their employees dress during working hours.

3. Don't memorize your answers

Most times, people buy books on job interviews. The next thing they start memorizing answers to the most common interview questions. This is not only wrong; it can also affect your performance. The essence of those books is to give you an idea on how to answer question not for memorization. You are not to quote the answer word for word. Always put your answer in your own words. As much as possible, relate your answer to the position applied for and avoid telling long stories as these may bore your interviewer.

4. Research the company

Most times when I place a job advert, people send CVs without even finding out what the company does. Having good knowledge of the company is very vital. It is like making a proposal. Prior knowledge about the company will enhance your performance during the job interview. Since most companies have websites, is a ready and free tool you can use to look up the website of the company. Find out about their vision, mission, core values, product/services, their competitors, track record and other necessary details.

5. Learn to define yourself appropriately

The most difficult question to most people during job interview is “Can you tell us about yourself?”. The question may look simple but most people answer it wrongly. In fact  how you answer the question can determine whether you will be hired or not. In your response, avoid unnecessary details such as the number of villages in your hometown, the numbers of your sibblings and their position in the family, the favorite movie you watch on television or names of your best friend. 

What the interviewer wants to hear is who you are (brief account such name, institution attended, course of study), what you can do (your skills) and what you have done(relevant experience) that relates to the position applied for. For example, if you are applying for a post of Marketer, and you were asked “tell us about yourself”. You can say something like “ My name is Wale Olajumoke. A graduate of Computer Science from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun state. I have great passion for marketing, as a result, I have worked as Sales representative for Finem Ventures. I was able to increase sales by 80% within few weeks. (Please don’t memorize this response, remember Rule 3)

6. Be confident

Many people fail exam not because they are not brilliant, but because they are afraid. The same thing happens during job interview. Employers are interested in employing someone who is confident. You can show confidence by maintaining eye contact, firm handshake, and good dress sense. Avoid sitting sluggishly or resting your back on the chair like a pregnant woman. Looking at the floor or panting while answering questions is a sign of lack of confidence. You need to know that confidence is attained overtime. Looking at your friends eyeball to eyeball, appreciating yourself while facing the mirror at home, listening to your favourite music when going for interview, volunteering in your community, knowledge of your field and praying are practical ways to build confidence.

7. Make eye contact

As much as possible, make eye contact with your interviewer. You need to have it at the back of your mind that your interviewers are human like you. They are only opportune and privilege to interview you. This consciousness can help to build confidence. Even if you are scared of their face, you can look above their head. Most interviews are done by one to five persons as the case maybe. Look at the face of the particular person interviewing you. Be audible and don’t rush your words as you try to respond to questions.

8. Don’t lie, you may be caught

People lie about their age in their CV, forge certificate, overshoot their years of experience and many other things. I believe sincerity is the best policy. If you don’t have particular qualities, it is better to let the employer know how you can compensate for them. You can share similar skill you have or your ability to learn fast on the job and so on. Also, I recommend proper preparation for interview as this will give you enough time to plan.

9. Smile! Smile! Smile!

A good smile appeals to people irrespective of race or background. Smiling brings out your beauty and communicates positively to your interviewer. Especially when it is genuine. Learn to smile always. Focusing on positive things and maintaining good attitude about life can help to strengthen your spirit which will indirectly reflect on your countenance. A smile can win you a job provided you have other skills and experiences required.

10. Remember rule 1 to 9

Remember if you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to do so below this post. Share this with all the people in your network. you never can tell who needs it. Join us on Facebook, Let's interact via Twitter and Subscribe via Email if you don't want to miss any updates.

Wale Olajumoke is the CEO of Concise Value, a career management company, in Lagos, Nigeria. He is passionate about youth empowerment and Nation building. He has facilitated training on personal development, business, career, and leadership at various Corporate Organizations. He loves engaging youths positively on social media during his leisure.
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Friday, 13 February 2015

How to Dress for Excellence: Get Ready to Get Hired!

As we seek opportunities from this Desk, sooner or later we may be unable to escape a hand-to-hand combat with prospective hirers (I mean a face-to-face job interview) and as such it is important that we make a good first impression.

The first impression you make often depends on what you are wearing. Many times, you have hear the statements “Dress the way you want to be addressed” or 
dress like the interviewers

Although that is good, I rather recommend that job hunters ‘Dress for Excellence”.

Here are few tips I gathered from professional recruiters and hirers:
  1. Dress in the Best Clothes you have, no exceptions.
  2. Guys, there are only two colors when it comes to suits: navy blue and charcoal gray. Brown suits could make you look ferocious as a bear, and black suits is for ushers.
  3. Black shoes with matching black socks fit best. Please do not wear white socks with black shoes. I guess you can imagine you will look like a 5th grader.
  4. Tattoos should be covered if you do have them at all.
  5. Ladies, modest business attire buttoned appropriately will be just perfect. Exposing certain body parts could send a wrong message to a male hirer and a wrong impression to a female hirer.
  6. Finally, it’s great to wear perfumes and jewelry but these should be kept to a minimum. Only a pair of earrings should be worn and perfumes should be mild so as to avoid transforming the beautiful interview session to an intensive choking competition.

These few tips could fetch you that dream job! Get ready to get HIRED!!!


Juliet is a young and emerging Marketer and Changemaker who seeks to empower young people with employability skills. She is the founder of IYDEA, a project aimed at enhancing the quality of life of youths with disabilities. She is a State Department International Exchange Alumni and Ashoka's Youth Venturer. Contact her
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