My name is Houssounatou Guindo but everyone knows me as “Natou” or “Nana”. I am a Communications, Marketing, and Project Management professional. As the daughter of a Malian diplomat, I grew up in Arusha, Tanzania where I spent most of my childhood. Upon completing high school in 2013, I relocated to Canada to further my education as an International Student. With the help of my family, I am proud to say that I graduated from the University of Ottawa in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. I would love to say that things have been smooth, but that would not properly describe my journey. After graduation, securing a good-paying job in my field of study was my utmost priority. I was one of those people who thought they would smoothly transition into the workforce, but being an international student came with many challenges. One would think that graduating from one of the top universities in Canada and being bilingual would give me an advantage, but I quickly realized that the joke was on me.
I went from applying to opportunities everyday and going from 3 to 4 interviews in a week with the hopes of finding “THE JOB”. At some point, I started getting discouraged, demotivated and felt like giving up. Not knowing what to prepare for and how to answer questions effectively made me very nervous. After 6 months of searching hard, I began to see a pattern in the questions that were being asked by interviewers. So I took time to get comfortable with what I might be asked and that worked in my favor. What kept me going was a piece of advice my father once gave me “Never forget where you come from. There’s always time to play and be serious. You can do anything you put your mind to”.
What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?
My biggest initial hurdle was dedication. I started getting tired of rejection emails but I didn’t let that discourage me. I continued to put in the time to apply for jobs and also re-strategize.
What books are you currently reading?
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life By Jen Sincero
The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I am very lucky – having my family’s unconditional support has helped me a lot. My parents and siblings have always encouraged me to work to my highest potential.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your success?
My father's advice. I try to incorporate it into all aspects of my life. Whenever I feel like giving up I think of the advice he gave me before I embarked on my undergraduate journey. I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to with hard work and perseverance.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?
Life will almost never turn out how you planned it – not better or worse, but just different.
What advice would you give to upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?
Change your perspective. Sometimes you have to change your perspective to turn a difficult situation into a better one. Give yourself the opportunity and the time to think about your situation using only positive language. Doing this for an extended period of time could change your entire life.