No Matter Where You Come From, You Have a Place in the World
- 13 Sep 2023
- 5 min read
Digital nomad Edna Kiilu came from humble beginnings in Machakos County, Kenya, but she didn't let her circumstances define her. Now, as an Operations Specialist, an ALX-trained Virtual Assistant, and a Community Ambassador for ALX and The ROOM Fellowship, she has the opportunity to pursue two of her topmost passions - travel and community development.
In this edition of the #FindYourPlace series, Edna shares her story to inspire others with backgrounds similar to hers and illustrates how her appetite for challenges opened doors of opportunity to her at ALX and beyond.
Tell us a bit about your background and early life.
I was born and raised in Machakos County, in a small town called Mitaboni, and later moved to the remote, yet serene town of Ivovoani. My childhood wasn't very different from that of many children in my hometown; my family faced financial hardships, and we relied on the bare necessities to get by. I didn't have the guidance or support system that many others had; my father struggled with alcoholism, which made things even more challenging. Nevertheless, we managed to navigate through life, and I'm immensely grateful for where I am today.
What do you do currently?
I’m a self employed virtual assistant (thanks to the ALX Virtual Assistant Training Programme!) providing individuals and organisations in Kenya and Singapore with operational and administrative support. I’m also a Community Ambassador for ALX and The ROOM Fellowship, where my role involves programme support, content creation, community engagement and much more.
What experiences led to your current position as a Virtual Assistant and Community Ambassador?
When I lost my previous job, I made the decision to take a 6-month mental health break from full-time employment. I’m not one who enjoys being idle, so in that time, I decided to search for any short training courses I could take remotely, while travelling. My search led me to the ALX Virtual Assistant programme, and it ticked all my boxes – online and self-paced, but with weekly deadlines and guidelines to keep me disciplined. I signed up, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Once I completed the programme, I became an active member of the The ROOM Fellowship, and when the opportunity came to be one of the Fellows to test the ALX Foundations Pilot programme, I grabbed it with both hands. Being a part of ALX Foundations led to my current position as a Community Ambassador, and it’s only been up from there.
What does the phrase "I Found My Place" mean to you?
Simply put, it means I am happy, mentally healthy, and at peace with my current role and career trajectory.
What did you do to set you on this transformative journey to finding your place?
I was really open to learning and trying new things, like the ALX Foundations Pilot programme. I could have easily turned down the opportunity when I received it via email, and asked, like some of my colleagues did, “Why should I help to build a programme for others?”, but I saw it as another learning opportunity, and I’m extremely glad that I did!
What transformation have you experienced in your personal and professional outlook on life now that you've found your place?
Being able to work remotely full-time has really given me a chance to pursue another passion of mine – travel. I have the flexibility to travel whenever I want, as long as I have my laptop with me. This experience has also helped me hone my skills in time management and schedule organisation, as having a full-time job while being a digital nomad requires effective planning. Although there are a few hiccups here and there, particularly power outages, I’ve been able to master this art of working remotely. No one ever notices that I’m working from the middle of nowhere, because I always get the job done.
What excites you most about contributing to Africa's emergence as a source of exceptional talent and a leading force in the global tech ecosystem?
Everything! To be part of a team that is helping other African Youth find their Ikigai is quite liberating and exciting.
You have your whole career ahead of you and are sure to experience more wins. Why do you think it is important to share your story now and celebrate your career milestones?
If my win can motivate someone else to find their place, then that is one more win to celebrate. If I can encourage one more African youth with a background like mine to find their place, that is an even bigger win for me.
What advice would you give to a Fellow trying to find their place?
I’d like them to know that no matter where you come from, you have a place in the world. You just have to keep looking until you find it. I found mine, didn't I? Keep #doinghardthings and things will get easier with each milestone.
ALX learners and graduates have access to professional development opportunities that accelerate their careers and transform their lives through The ROOM Fellowship. Enrol today in any of the ALX tech programmes to become part of this network of passionate individuals dedicated to helping you #FindYourPlace.