Nkrumah started his teaching career at the Roman Catholic Junior School in Elmina. The pupils he taught were so fond of to the extent that sometimes they went home with him.
He used his spare time to help found the Teacher’s Association in Elmina.to better the lot of teachers. This Association aimed at improving the status of teachers, supplying them with the means of airing some of their grievances and getting them addressed by the authorities. After one year in Elmina, he was transferred to Axim and became the Headmaster of the Roman Catholic Junior School. While there, he took a private course to prepare for the London Matriculation exams but failed the exams in Latin and Mathematics.
Here, too he used his spare time profitably to form the Nzima literature society as well as other literary societies in the Axim area. It was through this work that he met Mr. SR Wood, the Secretary of the National Congress British West African States who introduced him to politics and had long conversations with him about the political history of the Gold Coast.
In 1933 the Roman Catholic Mission in Ghana opened a seminary at Amissano near Elmina to train its clergy and Nkrumah was sent to teach there. There he regained his religious fervor, which he had almost abandoned. For a while, he even considered the idea of becoming a priest himself. However, the desire to further his studies took over, and he abandoned this idea.
After graduating from Lincoln in 1939, he was invited to be an Assistant Lecturer in Philosophy and so began to teach at Lincoln that same year. By the time he graduated from the Lincoln Seminary and received his Msc Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania., he had become a full instructor in Philosophy and first year Greek and Negro History.
Negro history was very popular and his classes were always packed to capacity. In 1944, he was voted as the most outstanding professor of the year by the Lincolnian, the magazine of Lincoln University
Whilst pursuing his intellectual curiosity, Nkrumah was deeply involved in African studies. He established the African Studies Section at the University of Pennsylvania. He was in favour of the maintenance of African traditions.
Times were hard for Nkrumah for most of his student days abroad. To sustain himself, he did several jobs besides lecturing. He worked as a counter in a shipbuilding yard every day from 12 midnight until 8 the following morning, a job through which he caught pneumonia and nearly died. He also tried selling fish in street corners in Harlem but this proved to be non-profitable. Next, he worked in a soap factory but this too did not work out. He later got a job with a shipping line where he washed dishes, waited, and eventually became a bellhop.
While he was at the Lincoln Seminary, he spent a lot of time preaching in black churches. Almost every Sunday, he was booked to preach in one church or the other and enjoyed doing it.