3 LESSONS FROM MY INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE AT OJAY GREENE.
BY FLORENCE MUIA
Usually when you get an internship, you already know what to expect. An introduction and consequent routine for the next eight weeks which can be quite frustraiting to be honest. This however, has not been the case for my internship at Ojay Greene. Eye-opening, mentally –engaging and inspiring are just but a few of the adjectives that I would use to describe my time at Ojay Greene. The experience has allowed me into the mind of an entrepreneur, so to speak. It has allowed me to understand the kind of mindset as well as the challenges that I ought to be prepared for as I am also aspiring to be an entrepreneur.
Frankly, going into the internship I did not know what to expect but I knew what I wanted out of it. I wanted to understand where all this knowledge that I have fits into the agricultural space, and what exactly is my contribution. This internship has changed my perspective on aspects of my life that I honestly can say I was naïve about. I have learnt tons of new things during this period both to do with small holder farmers as well as commercializing agriculture. If I had to summarize the experience I have had at Ojay Greene for the past eight weeks, these three things are what stood out for me the most.
The first is on understanding what it takes to be an entrepreneur. You hear the stories of the Steve Jobs of the world, the ones who made it and you want to be just like them. That is the side of the coin that we, or at least I, like to look at. But, there is a flipside, one that involves hard work, perseverance and literally have a shock absorber for high level rejection. The experience draws out character and passion, it demonstrates character. I have learnt that it is important to let these three things lead in building a business. Because when everything else has left these are the three things that I feel will be left to attest to your sacrifice. It brands the business and gives it a persona just as your own. I have also learnt that it is important to learn from mistakes, both mine and those of others before me. I have for long wanted to be an entrepreneur. To express myself through something that I could call my own, but with time that dream was slowly fading away. Ojay Greene has allowed me to breathe life into that dream again. To be faced with the realities of what that would entail and still have the passion to choose it. To be honest, I have built a more realistic view of what I want to be in the past eight weeks that I have spent at Ojay Greene than the past four that I have been in college, and for that I am grateful.
The second has been the painful truth that I have accepted to be average, not because I do not have the potential to do better, to be great but because I have found comfort in being just enough. I feel that my time has Ojay Greene has released me from that sought of average mindset. It has allowed me to remember that I am more than just average, that I need to stop giving average. The tasks that we have been given over the eight weeks have frankly been things that I never thought I would be doing, but I have and I have gotten better with time. The tasks and exercises as well as the structure at Ojay Greene has allowed to have to push myself out of my comfort zone and deliver. Ojay Greene does not judge based on your mistakes, they allow you to make them and learn from them. The experience has worked towards conditioning me from the fear of failure. I have learnt that that fear has barred me from trying new things and putting myself out there. Am not saying that I will be out bungee jumping tomorrow but I have definitely learnt how to step out of my comfort zone and I also do understand that I am a work in progress.
The third and final lesson from my attachment period has taught me has been the importance of agriculture in society. This is not just in terms of the fact that in Kenya it is the backbone of our economy, but more importantly getting to understand that there are various value chains with the agricultural space that have proven profitable for the Kenyan farmer and the Kenyan people. It was also very fascinating to learn the challenges that the Kenyan farmer faces. The experience has helped me to appreciate the role that the knowledge that I have acquired over the years and especially in university can be used to improve the state of agriculture in my country. I now have a better understanding of where I fit in the whole jigsaw, mainly because that was a major concern for me especially as I near the end of my university program.
In conclusion, I would have to say that my experience at Ojay Greene will definitely shape the path that I choose to pursue after my university program. I feel like this internship came at a time when I was in a lot of doubt about what next after my schooling. I will not say that the doubt has cleared but I can say that I have achieved direction and purpose and I feel like I have been able to connect to certain things that I can pursue as a career. I would therefore like to appreciate Yvette Ondachi, who is the founder of Ojay Greene, for facilitating the learning process and being an inspiring mentor.