Certain days stand out in the retelling of your history. Many of these standout days usually start out like every other day, you don’t know what the day will bring or that the day will be a catalyst that’ll unlock something in you; birth something in you you didn’t even realise you needed. 

One of these stand-out days for me is the 4th of September 2017. It was my first day of work at Softcom. I was nervous and unsure of what to expect, natural feelings that come with starting a new role, outside of the typical first-day orientation and introductions to everyone. It was chaotic on my first day. Our office consisted of two separate flats located at the very top of a three-story building, hence there was a lot of movement between the flats. It was an open office setup with medium-sized tables and chairs around each table. 

The first thing that stood out to me was that a few chairs had names on them and there were a lot of conversations about chairs: who owned which chair and where to sit. An impromptu trip for about 12 people came up and it was all hands on deck to buy tickets and ensure everyone that had to be was on a flight to Port Harcourt the next day.  I spent most of the day helplessly waiting for my work tool (a computer) to arrive. It eventually did past 5 pm and at the end of the day, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

My mum picked me up on my first day of work. It is just something she always does when I start a new role. She asked, ”Ore, so how was it?” ”It was okay,” I replied. ”Just okay?” she queried and I just looked out the window nodding because I wasn’t sure how the day had gone and where this move I had just made was headed.  

I didn’t dwell on my conflicting feelings for very long because my job at Softcom, to me, was a stopgap. I always wanted to be an academic – write papers, prove theories and generally be an important opinion-giver in my chosen field. I had it all figured out: work at Softcom till July 2018 then go back to school. I had accepted an offer to a  2-year masters program in Australia. I told myself that was my focus and I should not let a “stop-gap” distract me. 

But Softcom had other plans. First with the people. The people I met were genuinely interested in your wellbeing, they cared if one person was absent for work and took it upon themselves to find out why. When we celebrated birthdays, it felt like we were a large family filled with members that had no physical or biological connection except the desire to be present and be of help in each other’s lives. People were happy to be assigned tasks, they carried it out diligently, with little to no grumbling, eager to collaborate to get an activity to the finish line. I learnt quickly that people at Softcom genuinely enjoyed their work. 

I believe because Softcom makes you feel a part of something bigger than yourself, part of a group of people challenging the status quo to bring about change in a country that causes you daily to lose hope, you are able to release your capacity to deliver; to be the hope people are looking for. This created a group of people ready to create, in those two little flats, a version of the world they hoped to live in. 

With lofty dreams and ambitions comes a stretching beyond your capacity. I have taken on different projects, completed reports I didn’t believe I was capable of delivering on. I still don’t believe in a good number of my accomplishments over the last three years. My first week of work my manager was away and I had to represent him at a meeting with one of our largest clients. I had to read up en route the meeting and ask my colleagues a lot of questions over the phone. That experience was surreal. I look back on that day not sure if it happened, not sure what I said at the meeting but I am alive and still employed so I believe it went well. 

Stretching isn’t always welcomed because it is painful but it brings about growth in your character and it improves you. 

Softcom isn’t the same company it was on my first day at work, it has grown. It has developed with its fair share of challenges along the way but I wouldn’t trade the lessons I have learnt along the way, the friendships I have built and the lasting impact that working at Softcom has had on my life for anything. 

Ore still wants to become an academic. She is still in love with papers and research so right in this moment it will not be appropriate to write ”here’s to another three years” but the wanderlust explorer that she is is grateful her sojourn made her cross paths with Softcom. 

Knowing what I know now, I look back on the memory of my first day differently. I see a group of people that wouldn’t give up until a task was delivered on. I see faces of people happy to be at work, laughing and taking shots at each other, and carrying on till change happens.