How can you develop yourself to develop your future – the story of Julius Labeja Acire

Uganda has the world’s youngest population with over 78% being under the age of 30 years old! So it’s not surprising that the country’s unemployment percentage comprises mostly of the youth. However, there are many young people who have proven that you can be successful when the odds are against you. Julius Acire is one of them. Julius was raised by his grandfather in a humble neighbourhood. But he did not want to settle for a simple life, he wanted more for himself; so he started off as a volunteer with the International Red Cross Society during his High School vacation. 

Even when I didn’t have a job, I knew that I needed to position myself.

As a student of Developmental Studies at Makerere University, Julius volunteered with a number of NGOs including the Norwegian Refugee Council, Arbeita Samarita Band, and the World Food Program in Northern Uganda. At times he juggled multiple jobs (one included a night shift) while studying at University during the day. He didn’t rest! “…Even when I didn’t have a job, I knew that I needed to position myself.” Currently, Julius is the Executive Director of CEED Concordia (Community Empowerment Education Development) with experience with NGO’s and social enterprise organizations like The Achievers Foundation and The R.A.I.S.E Program. He was invited as a guest speaker on Breakfast meeting organised by Pro-Interns at the Innovation Village, Ntinda Complex, Kampala, on Thursday 13th July 2017. At the event, he inspired young people to develop themselves and have a growth mind set when it comes to their careers. Based on the advice he gave, here are some tips on how you can develop yourself to develop your future:  


If you want to be focused you need to have loyalty to your purpose. So don’t you dare run away from your vision! You need to keep that vision alive. It will motivate you to keep going, it will help you to be patient and hang in when it’s hard. Having a steady vision will help you to prioritise between what is important and what is urgent. 


Don’t be big headed: accepting that you need to learn means humility. It is likely that you’ll continue to learn throughout your career, otherwise you won’t grow. So no matter what your title is, you should always get stuck in the trenches! 


Be grateful to those that give you an opportunity. You don’t know how an opportunity could start your career. So be grateful! Even if it may not produce immediate results (i.e. getting a job on the spot) you’ll earn unique skills and knowledge. These can develop you by making you more employable, which could give you an edge over competitive job-hunters.  


Work-life balance may become an issue when you’ll start focusing on developing yourself, your skills and your experience. You need to learn how to persevere in these situations.  You may have to make decisions on which relationships and activities add value to you and which ones do not. Removing time-wasters activities like spending hours on social media will help keep you focused.  

Peer pressure

We are constantly going to be under pressure, either from meeting deadlines or from peers. It all starts with how you think about it: “I am unstoppable because of my mind, if you want to stop me you have to stop my mind. If you can’t stop that then you can’t stop me”.  

 Keep your mind focused on what is good, and have a strategic mind set about your future.

Stick to the voice of positivity but also reality!

Keep your mind focused on what is good, and have a strategic mind set about your future. It’s good to be ambitious, but it’s even better to research on how you can reach your dreams! 

Don’t be emotionally charged

You need to have a certain level of grit to stick in. Create a problem tree analysis: what is the root cause of my issue?  No matter what happens you need to focus your mind on the commitment that keeps you in, and not the emotions which will pass. 

And lastly, never despise humble beginnings

Start as a volunteer or as an intern, because you don’t know where that will take you. You need to have a growth mind set, and then you will see potential even from a humble beginning.  



 Written by Miriam Popa Business Support Associate in Kampala