Tag Archive | "Careers"

The Price of Education

Poppy Vilakazi

After my Matric year I was determined to further my studies because it meant I would be the first in my family to go to varsity and finish my degree. My results were not sky high, but they did get me the university entrance I wanted. Without a plan or a Rand to my name, I registered for a course with a fancy name that I wasn’t too clued up about and spent the next 3 years at an institution using borrowed cash from a bank willing to “invest in a child” with interest rates designed for adults.

It was great – the environment was better than I had imagined. No cheesy American movie would have done the environment any justice. High school did not give me the slightest hint at just how liberating the sound of no school bell is. The freedom to work and study at my own discretion was too awesome for my juvenile-locked mind to envisage. As fun as the student parties were and as enlightening as my tutorials were, 3 years after varsity I only wonder if studying there at that time was the best choice I made.

No doubt we need an education; I’d join any SRC strike or student movement/ uprising to support that any day. But, I think a Gap Year would not have been a miscalculated idea at all. Sure, the risk of being lazy and doing nothing could have popped up during that time. Or, I could have landed a peanut-paying job at a small company and never again thought about opening a book. But, I believe that a gap year is not such a bad idea. Unless you know what you want to do, how you plan on doing it, where you want to do it, and most importantly WHY you want to do it, I say… wait!

With the wounds of student debt still refusing to heal today I wish I hadn’t made that hasty decision back in 2007. Did I like what I studied? Not really. Do I use what I studied in the office today? No, I don’t even work in an office! Would I do it again? Not so quickly.

Pops on set

Research was my Read the full story

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The Secret to Successful Job Shadowing

chemistry student

By Joanne Wood

The concept of job shadowing has been around for ages and is a great way to explore what it would be like to work in a specific industry. From 15-year-old learners to 40 year olds in search of a career change, job shadowing can be useful career decision-making tool – provided it’s done right!

Try these strategies to get the most out of your next job shadowing experience:

  1. 1.       Use your contacts

Networking is one of the most effective ways of securing a job – and the same applies to job shadowing! Ask friends, lecturers, colleagues, relatives – anyone you can think of who may know someone working in the industry in which you’re interested.  But, if you’re still not getting anywhere, call the HR Department of the company you’re interested in or a company in the field you want to explore; be specific and tell them the position you’d like to shadow so they can connect you to the relevant person or department. You may be transferred several times, or even need to try a few companies, but you’ll eventually find someone willing to help.

  1. 2.       Be professional

Remember, the person you’re approaching to shadow is a professional whose time is valuable. Ultimately, you are asking them to invest their time in you. Show you’re taking the opportunity seriously by providing them with a CV and motivation letter explaining what you hope to gain from the experience – and ways in which you’ll be positively contribute to the working environment.

  1. 3.       Send a reminder

Phone the person you’re planning to shadow three days before you’re due to start. This will ensure they are expecting you and are prepared for your arrival.

  1. 4.       Dress appropriately

Find out the company’s dress code by researching their website or phoning their HR department. If in doubt, always go for a more rather than less formal look.

  1. 5.       Take notes

You’re likely to be exposed to many new things during your job shadow experience. Note down your reflections and key lessons so you have something concrete to refer back to afterwards.

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How to make yourself more employable

Feel like you’ve tried everything to find a job, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere? It may be time to review your game plan to make things happen. “Even with a tough economic climate and high rates of youth unemployment, there are ways to make yourself more employable,” says career psychologist Zakiyya Essa. “And enhancing your employability does not need to be complicated or expensive.”

Essa suggests these steps for young career-seekers and recent grads to gain an edge in today’s competitive job market: “Remember, it’s your responsibility to take ownership of the job-seeking process – nobody can do it for you.”

Learn new things

Learning new and diverse skills will enable you to adapt to competitive situations and environments. Employers want to see you have a capacity to grow, but they’re also looking for well-rounded candidates who can get the job done. For example, as an employee you may have to travel. Invest in getting your licence – even if you don’t own a car – so you can use a company or hired vehicle for external meetings or business trips. Or teach yourself how to make questionnaires on Google apps to ‘wow’ your boss the next time he/she needs to conduct a last-minute survey with staff but doesn’t know how.

Manage your expectations

The job may not meet your specific requirements or qualifications, but could allow you to get a foot in the door and access new opportunities. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to arise, create it. Take on more than is expected of you to show your manager or company what you’ve got to offer; and don’t be afraid to highlight your achievements. These days hard work is not enough – you need to make sure your boss knows you’re working hard, so speak up for yourself. And remember the basics – arrive on time, don’t watch the clock, only take leave when necessary and speak confidently and assertively whatever your position in the organisation.

Get social savvy

Many companies now sport an online image, making networking easier. Post your CV on Read the full story

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Is the New Year really the best time to look for a job?

Experts share their tips on how to time your job-hunt – all year round.

You’ve made the resolution to get a new job or you’re looking for your first job now that you’ve matriculated or got your diploma or degree. But, is the New Year really the best time to look for work – or is that just another job-seeking myth? Yes and no, say the experts.

New year, new opportunities?

According to Natalie Singer, Chief Operating Officer of APSO (www.apso.co.za) – the recruitment association of South Africa – there’s no particular ‘right time’ to look for a job. However, when one considers that most companies close for the Christmas holidays, it’s likely that if they were thinking about hiring new people or starting new projects, they’d put these off until the New Year. She adds: “Traditionally, the start of any year is a good time to look out for a new job opportunity. Companies will begin recruiting for their new projects and to replace staff members who would have waited to resign until January to avoid losing their Christmas bonus or annual leave.”

Pat Stewart, Executive Director of Anchor Executive Recruitment Pty Ltd. (www.anchorexec.co.za) agrees: “You often found that staff eligible for bonuses or a 13th cheque wait for these to be paid out at the end of the year… They are therefore less likely to move positions in the latter half of the year to avoid forfeiting their bonus.”

She adds, however, that not all companies or positions pay out bonuses at the end of the year: “Positions based on commission or senior staff on incentive schemes may get bonus payments paid at other times of the year – and so openings could arise at any time for these roles.”

Many industries also have their own busy hiring times and business cycles. For those in the financial sector, for instance, the first half of the year may be a good time to spot new opportunities: “Financial people handling year-end reporting will finish off the task and then look to move to a better role,” notes Stewart, “so these positions arise more frequently from March.”

Corporate companies with graduate intake programmes may also focus on the earlier months of the year to place successful graduates. Explains Stewart: “Each year, many students who have to complete internships as part of their studies, are given the opportunity for permanent employment if they prove their capabilities during their internship or graduate programme placement. These positions are all placed in the earlier months of the year.”

Adds Karin Chisholm, CEO of non-profit public benefit organisation Career Planet (www.careerplanet.co.za): “Graduate programmes are a great launch pad into the working world. The trick is not to wait until the last minute. These programmes generally open for application as early as Read the full story

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Is it too late to go to University?


You’ve achieved a Matric pass that now entitles you to go to university – but you forgot to register or you never thought about studying further, until now! Most public universities, including universities of technology, close their admissions between August and October the year before study, so now what do you do?

Many private tertiary institutions are still open for registration to obtain certificates, diplomas as well as Bachelor Degrees. Vega, for example, offers Bachelor of Arts in Communications Management and Bachelor of Arts: Brand Building and Management (closing date: 31 January 2012); and Varsity College offers a Bachelor Of Accounting Science (BCompt), Bachelor of Arts (BA) (Health Sciences and Social Services)(Psychological Counselling) (BAHSSS), Bachelor of Education (BEd ECD: Foundation Phase), Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Bachelor of Business Administration Marketing Management, Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communication (BA(CC), and Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) – with application open until 23 January 2012.

The last day for late applications will differ from institution to institution – some even accept applications all year-round – so check the accredited list on www.careerplanet.co.za for more details. Also, bear in mind that private institutions do charge more than public institutions. Always ask about hidden costs such as registration fees and late application penalties to work out your budget or extra financing needs in advance.

If for any reason you do not get in or cannot afford tuition at a private training institution, there are still ways in which to make your year ahead useful. The facility called Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and all institutions can assess whether education or work you do in 2012 can count towards one’s qualifications in 2013. In other words, when you to a university of your choice for 2013 (apply in June/July 2012 to make the application deadlines!) they can assess whether what you’ve done in 2012 can allow for some exemptions. For example:


  • Choose a one-year certificate Higher Certificate course (NQF Level 5 with some relationship to the ultimate course you aim to study) – for example, accounting if you intend studying for a BCom; or computer skills, which can be a valuable skills-set to add to your CV irrespective of the course you intend to study or if you decide to look for work without full-time study.
  • If you passed but your marks could be improved (say Maths), you could go to an FET college, and do a vocational courses which will also count towards a RPL assessment. You could also consider doing a Bridging Year to prepare for the various challenges you will encounter at the tertiary level.
  • Many people (especially those who have not chosen a direction) find that a gap year or a working year contributes to their maturity and that they are more committed at the end of it. Explore internship opportunities, part-time jobs, volunteer placements and learnership opportunities to gain experience as well as practical knowledge. For trainee, intern and bursary opportunities still accepting applications in 2012, visit the Career Planet website.

For more study and career information, visit www.careerplanet.co.za


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The Pursuit of Passion

Being a twenty-something year old with a huge desire to achieve success – my name Katlego translates into “Success” or “Achievement” after all – In all facets of my life, namely spiritual, emotional, physical, financial and so forth, I am always faced with a daunting question, “What is your passion?”

Each time this question is asked, I ponder for a while and in a defensive manner reply, “I don’t know!” – Much to the dismay of the person asking the question, I always find myself lost in thought as to what it is I am really meant to do in life? What am I most passionate about? How can I use that to live out my purpose?

At this stage of my life I feel as if I am merely just checking off a list of societal expectations such as completing my degree, getting a job, finding the right spouse and advancing in my career and not necessarily fulfilling that innate calling for something greater and more gratifying.

In pursuit of finding my passion I have discovered that it is ultimately a learning experience that you will have to embrace. The key to finding your passion lies in discovering the things that makes you happy and give you satisfaction in accomplishing them. In my journey to finding my ultimate passion, I have learnt a few lessons. Read the full story

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