Entering the YEP Cycle - James Kisekka from RAIN Foundation

In 2014, James Kisekka made his first YEP appearance. He started in batch 2 as a Young Expert for RAIN Foundation (RAIN) but has not left from the YEP radar. After his YEP experience James decided to stay under the RAIN wing, continuing as a consultant for Aidenvironment (the parent company of RAIN) focusing on landscapes and water management. Since, he has provided guidance to multiple new Young Experts joining Aidenvironment, using his own YEP experience as a basis.  

James is now director of Aidenvironment’s East-Africa office. ‘Looking back at my YEP time, I could not have asked for a better job experience. When I started as a Young Expert, I was the only person based in Uganda for RAIN. We have now grown to a number of 14 people, and the organisation is a registered legal entity in the country, which is great progress.’

‘I actually was the second Young Expert at RAIN. The organisation was really pleased with the results from YEP Programme and thus continued to hire more Young Experts. They found the Young Experts to be really enthusiastic and with a strong drive to improve themselves. Also, due to their youth, Young Experts are not yet shaped in a vast way of working, and thus can easily fit into the culture and workstyle of the organisation.’

‘RAIN gave me the opportunity to be a guide and mentor to the newcomers. Without hesitation I took on this opportunity, as I myself really struggled to find a job at the beginning of my career. Therefore, when I was hired by RAIN via the YEP Programme, I promised myself that if I were to ever get into a position of decision making, I would like to give many more young people a chance to start out on a job. Especially one that is part of a programme like YEP, that strives to make you better and better through their mentoring, training and network.’

‘The things I learned at YEP actually shaped me into the person that I am today. The coaching, training in leadership, mentorship and the constant associations with different personalities from different cultures gave an excellent foundation for my job today. Especially the latter has been a cornerstone in my organisational journey: I got insight into the different types of personalities there are in the world and how such differences make people relate to things differently, process information differently and therefore should be approached differently.’

‘I definitely try to use all the things I have learned to guide the Young Experts under my wings. We like to link the Young Expert to a more senior person who would serve as a mentor, so they can learn from them. We of course also allow the young person to be in charge of their own development. They want to improve in a certain area, and we give them the flexibility to take charge of that. Personally, when I started out at RAIN, I learned the most from the mistakes I made. Therefore, we provide them space to make their own mistakes (in a guided way, of course) and develop themselves.’ 

‘An advice I would like to give to young people, at the start of their career? Do not try to become a person that you are not. Starting out, you might be tempted to become like your mentor or coach. It is of course okay to admire them and copy a thing or two from them, but you have to remember: you will have to accept that James is James, and you cannot remould yourself into a completely new James. You can only try to become a better version of yourself, when you get to understand your own strengths and the things you need to improve. But this happens, only if you allow yourself to do this self-reflection. If you try to imitate someone else instead of being yourself, you risk losing your own potential.’

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