16 September | By Sainey Darboe
Gambian VP, Chief of Staff for Fortune 500 company shares sacrifices on ride to the top
Gambian-born Olay Ceesay sits pretty at the top of a Fortune 500 company in the United States, but it’s been a journey strewn with sacrifices.
Sharing her experience in the latest episode of The Sisters Show which aims to inspire Africans and people of African descent, with a particular accent on women’s empowerment, Olay recalled she had to take less pay just to put her foot in the door at the commencement of her career.
She recounts: “Being an immigrant there’s different...it’s very, very tough. I’m sure our viewers out there that are watching that managed to get into the corporate world, it doesn’t matter what field, your first job is extremely hard to get. Because it’s very strange, it’s very, very interesting that being a college grad the first thing that you are being asked is usually you need experience.
For me what worked was just making sure I was able to get my foot into the door rather than going through the internship route. Once I got my foot into the door I could work hard and get to wherever I wanted. The only way I was able to do that without having much experience was it was a much lower paying job - maybe let’s say 20% less pay than what my other friends that also graduated at the same time were making”.
Olay who now serves as Vice President and Chief of staff in her company added the route she chose which was productive of success is by no means a prescription for everyone.
In fields with lower entry barriers such as banking, in her telling, internships in combination with use of online resources like LinkedIn might yield dividends for job opportunities.