How I used LinkedIn to maximize my career growth

Lilian Motongori, 22, has achieved what few women her age have been able to.

She works for Sustainable Off-grid Solutions for African Economic Development (SOSAED) program based at Turkana Basin Institute (TBI) as a mechanical engineering consultant.

The program is a partnership of TBI, Strathmore Energy research centre and other public and private companies .

SOSAED utilises the facilities at TBI as host lab and commercialisation base for energy, water and information technologies.

Lillian’s job revolves around promoting the establishment of environmentally sound, locally managed businesses and workforce development in Turkana County.

She is also the country’s representative for ElectraTherm, a US based company that sells clean-energy products.

In addition, she does public relations consultancy for Associazione Industriale Italia Kenya (AIIK).

Interesting to note, Lilian has barely completed her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Eldoret and is awaiting graduation. Her job experience, only six months old, has grown tremendously and she attributes this to her LinkedIn account.

SPEND MORE TIME ON LinkedIn

“I spend more time on my LinkedIn account more than all my other social media platforms including WhatsApp.  It has enabled me to network with fellow engineers both locally and internationally.  Consequently, I have had access to opportunities which I couldn’t even have dreamt of.  In addition to networking, LinkedIn has a pool of resources tailored to nurture every profession under the sun. Once you subscribe to relevant newsletters, newsfeeds and groups then you have access to the latest information in your field. Information is the key that opens the door to a great  fulfilling career.  I can testify to that.”

When Lilian attended her first class in mechanical engineering, she was baffled to realise that they were only two girls in a class of 32 students. However, this did not intimidate her one bit.

If anything, it fanned her ambition and determination to excel in her degree.

Given her passion for women empowerment, she perceived this as an opportunity to deconstruct the misconstrued notion that the engineering profession was a preserve of men. It was not a surprise therefore that she topped her class repeatedly.

Outside class, Lilian built on her passion for women empowerment by founding initiatives and through leadership. She was the chairperson for the Association of Engineering Students in her university. This gave her a lot of influence among her peers which in turn she used to empower fellow ladies especially those in male-dominated professions.  She also had the opportunity to attend the National Prayer Breakfast on numerous occasions.

An opportunity for a two weeks training for student leaders under African Youth Leadership Forum (AYLF) arose following one of the National Prayer Breakfast and Lillian jumped on it.

In her fourth year, she started the Kenya Model United Nations University of Eldoret Chapter.

FOUNDED ANGAZA DADA INITIATIVE

“While in campus, I founded the Angaza Dada initiative whose mandate was to empower women economically, socially and politically. Together with a few friends, we conducted various outreaches in primary schools, high schools and campuses within Eldoret and spent hours talking to girls about the limitless opportunities within their reach. We made them understand that they could be whatever they wanted to be in life. I had a side hustle as a realtor and often drew from my own experiences to talk to the ladies about economic empowerment. I also got the opportunity to serve in the youth senate for Nakuru County; I got empowered politically and shared this through Angaza Dada. Now that I am out of campus, my activity in the initiative is limited to virtual interaction with the current leaders. I’m proud of how well they have sustained the initiative.”

Lilian was keen to update her LinkedIn account every time she took up a new role of leadership, begun an initiative or attended a professional training.

A quick tour of her account portrays her as being quite resourceful and a multi-skilled professional.  She defined her path in empowering communities and participated in activities that were consistent with her cause.

She was also very deliberate when making her connections with groups or individuals; always ensured that they bore similar interests to hers professionally.

“When I opened my account, I had a sole purpose to grow my career. I was still in school hence job applications were not my priority.  I engaged with professionals in my field both locally and internationally with a genuine thirst to learn. I am naturally very inquisitive, and this played to my advantage. Among the topics I found intriguing was renewable energy sources, a current trend in my field.  In May this year, I was sent an invite via LinkedIn to give a talk at the Renewable Energy Solutions for the Mediterranean (RES4MED) in Rome. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, a mere student straight from campus now sharing a podium with global dignitaries. I even did three TV interviews in Rome.”

JOB OFFER VIA LinkedIn

Following the conference, SOSAED reached out to her via LinkedIn with a job offer. She began working with them in July.

Around the same time, ElectraTherm and AIIK also contacted her with proposals that were flexible enough for her to accept. All the three companies that approached made reference to her experience record which she regularly updates on her LinkedIn account.

“I encourage more young people to take advantage of LinkedIn to grow their career. There is a wealth of opportunities waiting for them to explore. Every day I learn something new. I get to see what other more developed countries are doing and thus identify niches here in Kenya. Very soon, I aspire to start my own energy company courtesy of many viable ideas I have come across while interacting with my connections on LinkedIn.  Get LinkedIn today and grow your hustle.”

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