When I joined the University of Nairobi to study Land Economist (Was initially admitted for Building Economics and later Transferred to Land Economics), I wasn’t so sure what this course was all about. From the upcountry village where I grew up, not many had career paths and were
available to give mentorship to the young. We all sang the song of when I grow up I want to be a pilot, I want to be a doctor, I want to be an engineer… all because this is what we would hear others say and would form our dreams as well. Eventually, the grading system before seating
for the KCSE exams, we were made to choose courses with little information about the careers or professions they would lead to, we would speculate amongst ourselves as to what they meant and would choose courses that seemed to be worded in the line one would wish to pursue. I have kept insisting that this is one major shortcoming of the secondary education system in Kenya.
In The University, the course was not so much among the hardest to pursue and neither was it so easy as well. We spent several nights trans-nighting at ADD (Architecture Design and Development) Building keeping the architectural student’s company for the few days of our night vigils while it was their way of life, they even had cooking stoves moved to cook their meals from their work studios. However, for the larger parts of the semester, we were the ordinary B.A. students eating life with a big spoon albeit being overly broke for the larger part of the semester.
Some of us would venture out to try to be productive, visit UN offices, World Bank offices, the NSE trading floor in a bid to try and ‘get connections’ for the ‘after university’ tarmacking phase. The visits gave a fair share of experiences with some getting lucky to land internships with the multinationals; some being engaged in students programs that would then shape their future careers. I know of some folk who engaged with politicians and are now deeply in firebrand politics. Like they told us the first day the SONU officials addressed us, it was upon an individual
to cultivate for the second silent unawarded degree above the degree one was admitted to. This second silent degree they said meant being able to throw a stone in a way that it could navigate a corner, facing the anti-riot police and sleeping on the tarmac of ‘our’ University Way, eating
Kenchic for free among others. For those who interrogated and tried to have a better and positive perspective of the issue of the second degree, the returns were high. They became the hustlers who would buy their first cars just months after graduation or land plush placements even before the graduation date. Life was what you chose. I will be sparing time for more of
these University tales in other blogs.
In the employment field, being a land economist is a satisfying job albeit not being as highly paying as most think. You are made to painfully pay for the little trans-nighting you did in the University. So many nights are spent on your laptop trying to finalize reports, undertaking analysis, and giving professional opinions. Remember, real estate is a secondary market and
therefore in most cases a luxury good/service. Clients are therefore not keen to pay or make it a priority in their budgets. To get paid, you first have to do the professional work then undertake the second assignment of collecting your payment!!
The job gives you a chance to meet people, many kinds and types of people. You will rub shoulders with the mighty and high, dine with kings and paupers in equal measure. You will be dealing with a dirt poor fellow in the far-flung areas undertaking an acquisition assignment or a succession issue while the next day you may be dining with the chairman of a multibillion-dollar entity in a members-only club helping him secure financing for his multi-million dollar project. In both of these cases, you have to play the part and belong for acceptance and for your cheque to come commensurate to the circumstances! When they say people skills, land economists/Real
estate consultants should form serious case studies.
The travelling bit is equally a satisfaction, you will undertake a study in the city that will open you for another in Juba, Kigali or Windhoek or for a financial pitch in Helsinki or to attend a home’s expo in Dallas. Locally, a trip to the magical Diani or to the marginal Griftu in Wajir is always a
call away and you are in the next flight, a land cruiser or even atop a goat ferrying truck! You will sleep in a five-star hotel and you will also sleep in a mud and wattle lodging! You will dine on seafood today and be on soda and kangumu the next day! The job is as satisfying and adventurous as it is challenging.
The writer is the MD, M-VAL.