The perfect gift

About the book

Choosing a career is one of the big decisions that will likely impact your entire life.

You may not have the information or guidance you need to make wise career decisions. May be your school does not have a career guidance counselor. You may resort to peers and family for career advice. You may end up taking the course suggested to you during college selection even if you don't like it. How can you navigate through the career decision process and come out with the right choice?

The authors of this book have utilized their expertise and experience in different fields to guide you on your career journey. This book is a useful "Career Coach" that will guide, inspire, and encourage you to make a wise career decision that will lead you to greater fulfillment in life.

What's Inside?


Each chapter is preceded by a relatable, creative story. Other than entertainment, the stories bring to life the "The Recser Career Choice Formula". This formula teaches three interconnected guiding principles that we believe should be the main considerations for you as you choose a career.

Click on a chapter title below to read a brief snippet.

Do you have career dreams? Do you believe that you can achieve your dreams? As the famous Kenyan actress and author Lupita Nyong’o put it, your dreams are valid, no matter where you come from.

In chapter 1, Ernest from Botswana gets inspired to pursue his dreams after watching a roadshow performance in Gaborone. He unleashes his dreams by catapulting himself into a performing arts career, overcoming challenges at school and home.

What is the recipe for unleashing your dreams? The recipe has three ingredients. First, believe in yourself. Second, learn about yourself from your hobbies, interests, and personality; thirdly, master the power of imagination and determination as wings for your dreams?

The chapter introduces three guiding principles of finding career fulfilment. These principles are career personality, the market reality, and skills development. At the end of the chapter, you will find the dream canvas that will provoke your thoughts and challenge you to begin getting a grip on your career.

Have you ever been between a rock and a hard place? In chapter 2, Zeinaba from Ethiopia found herself in such a place! Her father lost his job. They moved from town to the village. She could not pursue her dream career in journalism – they could not even afford it.

One day, Zeinaba poured out her heart to her aunt, who listened attentively. From that conversation and guidance from her teachers, she realized she had other skills that she had not discovered. Her worldview started to broaden.

Just like Zeinaba, you have career dreams. But influence from family circumstances may push you to consider other options. How do you navigate such forces? The chapter will reveal to you six traps that lead to poor career choices and how to escape. You will also learn about the impact of making the wrong career choice - not to scare you – but to inspire you to do whatever it takes to pursue your dreams or course correct if you made a wrong choice!

The chapter ends with great exercises to help you master the art of navigating through the various career traps that can ruin your career dreams.

Have you heard the saying that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’? Well, your career is the broth! How many cooks are helping your career broth? Are you listening to all of them and doing everything they say? Be careful. You might end up with something that has an awful taste that you cannot eat or drink.

What is the secret to ‘cooking the right career broth for yourself when you have cooks such as parents, teachers, and peers telling you what recipe to use? It is not a bad thing to have many cooks. What is terrible is failing to subject their advice to rational thinking by yourself!

In chapter 3, Amani from Kenya struggles with the problem of too many cooks helping her make her career broth. She finds relief when her teacher helps her think about her passions and the types of problems she likes to solve. She escapes the tyranny of pursuing engineering out of pressure and settles for a hospitality course closer to her interests.

The chapter will enable you to master four principles to navigate the career advice you receive from people around you and manage any conflicts or arguments. You will learn a new Career Advice Test (CAT) to test the advice - to know good advice from bad advice.

The chapter offers a good dose of advice to parents and teachers on how to help you cook a delicious career broth. At the end of the chapter, you will find practical exercises - Pathfinders - to help you decisively chart your career path.

What if there was a formula to guide you in making the right career decision? If there was, you can figure out your career path by learning the principles or variables of this formula. Such a formula would spare you the agony of learning from your mistakes.

The good news is - there is such a formula! It is called The Recser Career Choice Formula. The formula is inspired by the three cooking stones used in Africa to balance cooking pots on fire. As the chapter reveals, the trick is in the balance! The three stones give the pot containing delicious food balance. The food does not spill over.

Similarly, you can use the Recser Career Choice Formula to discover and pursue your career path. The formula has three principles. They are:

  1. Career Personality
  2. Market Reality
  3. Skills Development

Think of the Recser Career Choice Formula like a map. Where do you want to go career-wise? Where do you hope to be in the next three years? This formula will guide you to achieve your career dreams. You can use the formula to guide you in:

  • Identifying your career personality traits.
  • Assessing the market reality of your preferred career path.
  • Developing relevant skills for your career path.

As William Shakespeare once said, "To thine own self be true." Never tell yourself lies about yourself.

In chapter 5, Ogbonna is getting pushed to pursue accounting by his dad. He loves to make sculptures with his carving knife. Conversations with his uncle and a tourist inspire him to decide to pursue a career aligned with his creativity boldly.

Ogbonna embraced his career personality that includes creativity. Your career personality is the set of traits that make you succeed in a particular career. Knowing your career personality is like anchoring a boat in rough waters.

You will find a fantastic exercise to enable you to discover your career personality traits and use the wisdom to find your dream career.

Esi and Akuba meet to review life many years after school. Akuba is a successful journalist at a radio station – a career built out of a blog she started while still in college. On the other hand, Esi pursued a career as an actress without much success. As they catch up, it emerges that there are many ways for one to apply the skills they learned in college, by being on the leading edge of information in a given field of interest – in the new emerging world.

Have you learned about the evolution of species in biology class? In 1859, Charles Darwin proposed the theory of evolution. His idea that man evolved from ape-like creatures stirred up a lot of debate within the Church of England. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - he said.

This is one of Charles Darwin’s famous quotes. This quote illustrates a concept called ‘survival of the fittest. In this case, the word ‘fittest’ does not mean ‘strong’ or ‘more physically capable’; instead, it refers to a flexible, adjustable, or versatile species. As the human race evolves, so do careers, occupations, and the general job market.

The chapter describes four factors, including technology, that shape the future of jobs. You will learn how to improve your future career prospects by understanding how each factor can make the demand for the skills you have go up or down. The chapter gives examples of careers that will likely be dead by 2030 and those likely to be alive. You don’t want to get yourself into a dying career. The chapter ends by engaging you in exercises that enable you to future-proof your career.

Kawira is a Grade A student when she joins Maarifa Girls' Secondary School. She is hard-working and popular - and a member of the debating club. During her second year, she becomes class prefect and dorm captain, a vote of confidence in her excellent leadership skills. She hopes to pursue a course related to her strengths in maths.

Unfortunately, she falls into bad company, which leads her to get pregnant. She drops out of school. Her future dreams seem shattered as even her father threatens to disown her. But through sheer resilience, she finds a way to get back on track! She goes on to attain her career goals by sharpening her hard and soft skills - combining her strengths in maths and interpersonal skills.

The chapter highlights the importance of developing hard and soft skills to survive in today's and future job markets. You will learn how to develop soft skills, to get an edge in today's highly competitive jobs market. The chapter will enable you to create a personal roadmap to achieve your dream career by connecting your skills development journey with your career personality.

Daliso is a high school student. He wants to become an engineer. Unfortunately, his family cannot afford the university fees. Instead, he opts for a job at a construction site to learn first-hand about his desired career. His mentor pushed him to succeed by inspiring him about the opportunities he applies for.

This chapter explores the importance of having a career coach or mentor to challenge and support you achieve your career potential. You will learn how to find a good coach or mentor.

This chapter also highlights the significance of job internships and volunteering in career development.

How can career mentorship and coaching enable you to achieve your career dreams? How can you find a mentor or coach?

The College selection process is a delicate stage for students. Even though Wambui does not enjoy school, she is an active member of the Model UN club at school. This club allows her to form the correct networks for college selection.

This chapter offers tips for selecting a suitable college that offers courses and skills that are genuinely relevant to your career dreams. The chapter shares insights on what to consider when thinking through your career choices, including what college to choose and how it will shape your future.

At the end of the chapter, you will find a practical exercise to help you discover your ideal college.

A team effort


The authors of this book have utilized their expertise and experience in different fields to guide youth in Africa on their career journey.

Dr. Ndirangu Wanjuki
Lead Author

A few years after Kenya's independence, Ndirangu was born in Nyeri - a quiet rural town tucked between the Aberdare ranges and Mount Kenya - Africa's second-highest mountain. He walked to school daily, often stopping by the stream to play with tad-poles. His hobbies included making toys, keeping pet rabbits, and conducting science and agricultural experiments at home as a child.

One day, one of the science experiments went wrong, leaving him with a permanent burn mark on his right index finger - luckily it was not his face! In secondary school, he wanted to be a Chemistry teacher. In high school, he wanted to be a pharmacist - to discover and manufacture new medicines but his family urged him to go for the more prestigious medicine - so he pursued medicine at university.

Today, decades later, he is a public health leader and strategist, certified coach, and author. He practiced medicine for five years - and almost became a pediatrician, but he opted for public health and management.

He learned how to listen from his medical practice. The listening soft-skill is one of the best gifts that the medical practice gave to him. He uses it in all his life - as a parent, husband, leader, strategist, coach, or author.

The inspiration for this book stems from his life experience. Often, when younger people seek career guidance from him, he walks them through the Passion - Market - Skill pathway. This book is the result of realizing the dire need for practical career guidance for young people.

Sophie Ndungi-Mwangi
Chapters 2 & 8

When Sophie joined graduate school in Japan, she was surprised to learn that many Japanese companies recruited students while still in university. This meant that students had a chance to graduate with a job waiting for them. Due to this, career decisions were given great importance at the university. Within the first few months every student had a polished resume, and had participated in numerous mock interviews. Guidance was given until one successfully secured a job.

This was in stark contrast to the situation in Kenya, and Africa in general where students are largely on their own when it comes to job hunting. Upon graduating and coming back to Kenya, this way of doing things kept nagging at her. This prompted her to create a website giving students advice on writing resumes, interviewing and career matters in general.

Career decisions have since been of great importance to Sophie, even as she pursues her own career path. Currently she is the Program Director at Recser Human Capital, a company that deals with recruitment, coaching and the development of capable leaders. She also manages a family business.

Sophie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Oita, Japan, and a Master’s degree in Peace Studies from the International University of Japan.

Dr. Sheila Macharia
Chapter 3

Education: A Master of Public Health and Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Nairobi. Fellowship in Population and Development from the Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, U.S.A.
Currently an Independent Consultant in Health Policy and Strategy.

A Public Health Expert, specialized in Adolescent Health, Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. As a passionate advocate for women’s and girl’s health and a youth mentor she excels in creating effective strategic partnerships to create solutions for health and development. Excellent public speaker and moderator.

Recipient of the Marjorie Horn Award from USAID/Washington for “Sustained leadership, tireless efforts moving Family Planning/Reproductive Health evidence to practice.”

Previously served as the USAID Kenya Director for Family Health a career spanning 19 years, as the Mission’s strategic lead for family planning, reproductive health, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, nutrition, water, and sanitation. Prior to that worked in Program Management at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), Africa Regional Office overseeing adolescent health and family planning programs in Uganda, Malawi, and Ethiopia.

She is married and a mother of two young adult sons.

Dr. Njeri Gitau
Chapter 7

I am an Award- Winning Public health specialist and a Rockefeller fellow on social innovation with over 18 years’ experience in the health sector. I have wide experience and in-depth knowledge of the public and private sectors in Africa and other emerging markets.

My expertise is in global health systems strengthening, private health sector development, policy formulation and development, regulatory reform with a focus on quality of care, community health systems and healthcare financing. I am currently working in the Office of the President, Kenya, Presidents’ Delivery Unit as a Senior Director, I also serve on the Global Fund Technical Review panel as resilient and sustainable health systems expert and previously worked for the World Bank Group as a Senior Health Specialist, on Health Programs in the African Region, as programme manager at AMREF Health Africa and at Ministry of Health in various capacities up to National level.

I chair the board of Nairobi Waldorf School Trust , I am non-executive director of the Center for International Health and Biosecurity-Kenya , I am a Trustee and Member of the Board of New Faces New Voices Kenya and Board advisor to Savannah Informatics. I hold a medical degree from Makerere University, Kampala Uganda and a postgraduate diploma and Masters of Science in Public health from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – University of London.

I am a mother of three, I love adventure travel, gardening, cooking, reading and I am a self- taught sommelier.

Janice Njoroge
Chapter 9

Janice is a seasoned communications professional with over 17 years of experience working in the health development sector, using communications and advocacy to increase the impact and reach of health programmes.

A mother to a young girl, Janice is passionate about working with adolescents and young people in Africa to realise their full potential, including creating opportunities for them to make informed decisions about their health, education and career choices.

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