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Quality private higher education – Know what you want and how to get it

higher-education

Thousands of students enter private tertiary education institutions every year – increasingly out of choice, but other times because of limited opportunities in the public sector.  As prospective students have always done when deciding on which university to attend, private students must be encouraged to similarly ensure they entrust the right institution with their higher education.

With an estimated 110 000 students registered in private higher education annually, leaving these students without guidance on how to choose quality courses and institutions exacts a significant but rarely recognised toll on the individual, the community and ultimately the country and economy, an education expert warns.

“Many students would already have been exposed to valuable guidance on how to ensure that an institution is registered and its qualifications are accredited, to avoid becoming a victim of unscrupulous operators,” says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of the Independent Institute of Education, which is responsible for the academic leadership and governance of education and training on more than 20 registered higher education campuses in SA which collectively welcome more than 5 000 new students annually.

But Dr Coughlan notes that once this first safety hurdle has been successfully navigated, prospective students must turn to understanding what (for each individual) would represent a high quality learning experience.

“That will guide you as to what quality indicators you should be looking for,” she says.

“Of course, no institution will advertise itself as being of low quality and virtually none will define what quality means to them, so it is up to you to be clear about what you need and want and then look for those attributes in a college.”

Dr Coughlan says that:

  • It is important to look at a total quality experience assessment – from the condition of the campus to the “intangibles” such as the values and interpersonal skills you will gain from the experience.
  • One must also consider the output (e.g. graduation rates; quality of teaching; nature of facilities and number of lectures; learning materials) you get in relation to the input (fees, time and effort).
  • A further assessment should be done, of the “value-add”, i.e. determine what you would gain from the higher education experience beyond the actual qualification. The “product” you leave with is a qualification, but you also should expect to be better equipped with work related skills and improved interpersonal abilities and a strong sense of citizenship.  There may be other things of value that you seek from a qualification and you should ask about these things.

“When considering colleges, it is in your best interest to do thorough research online and offline, looking at an institution’s official website and materials, but also at what others have written about the campus,” says Coughlan.

“You should ask the basic regulatory and quality questions, but then you should begin to explore what is really offered.  Ask the person interviewing you to tell you why you should choose their campus, and listen carefully for messages that focus only on “product” or almost exclusively on the student life experience.

“Either extreme may be a reason to be cautious,” Coughlan says.

For further information or comment by Dr Coughlan, please contact Natasha at Lange 360 on 021 448 7407, or visit www.iie.ac.za

 

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How to identify bogus colleges

So those of you planning on furthering your studies without proper information this is something you would want to nibble on. I stumbled on an article that said the following with regards to fake learning institutions in South Africa: Authorities, including the SAPS and the Department of Higher Education, are repeatedly issuing warnings for prospective students to steer clear of bogus colleges and educational scams.  But while this is useful advice, it may not be enough to actually assist young people in identifying such places.

Also, the public may also become unnecessarily wary of all private higher education institutions, limiting their own access to quality education. Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education, says that because the private higher education sector is highly regulated in South Africa, with information readily available in prescribed formats, it is in fact easy to identify credible institutions and their campuses if you know what to look for.

“All the key information about the registration of an institution is available in the Register of Private Higher Education Institutions kept by the Department of Higher Education and Training, and the information is also readily available from reputable institutions,” she says.

“There are also a few key questions to ask to which there are some simple answers, and if an institution is able to respond appropriately, it is worth considering.” 

Coughlan says prospective students can do the following checks:

  • All private higher education institutions need to be registered with the Department. Any credible campus must be able to show you a certificate to that effect, which details the campus, provider and qualifications.
  • All higher education qualifications need to be accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee of the Council on Higher Education – if they are not accredited they will not appear on the certificate referred to above.
  • All qualifications must be registered on the NQF by SAQA and students should ask for the SAQA NQF identity numbers. 

Dr Coughlan also said “Once you have established these three things you can be sure you are dealing with a legitimate institution, and from there you can safely turn your attention to the particular qualification, quality and campus environment issues that meet your aspirations and interests,”.

 

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Fashion Guru makes a STATEment for himself

Having dreams of going to Paris would be the greatest dream for Refileo Dipudi better known as Refileo Guru. 24 year old young, vibrant and fashionable clothing designer Guru has big dreams for his fashion den that oozes style, elegant lifestyle and true African couture.

Guru is a true dreamer and a man that has greater vision for the fashion industry. Initially Guru studied Fine Arts and dropped out after realising that he had a “calling” to be a fashion designer. “In 2006 I decided to pursue a career in fashion designing; it was like a calling for me, a passion that had been waiting for me to grab it with both my hands.”

Like many young boys from eKasi, Guru had dreams of making it big one day. “I never knew I would be a clothing designer, I thought I would be in the arts, probably a singer or something,” he added.
Although Guru works from home, his workspace is simple yet the mind that runs behind it is one that is forever inspired with a passion for clothes and fabrics. His fabrics are elegant and the African feel is what drives this young man to the greatness he creates. “I design African contemporary clothing for woman mostly but I also occasionally design for men,” Guru said.

This young man does not just want to be a designer but a brand that stands out from all the rest. “State of Guru” is what will make him a brand as he feels that his clothing range is one of comfort, ability and elegance in its true African sense.
The Guru’s fabrics are indigenous with an incorporation of African prints. “I believe in the diversity and beauty of Africa hence a lot of my designs are Africa inclined,” he says. His inspiration comes from a few great designers yet David Tlale seems to be one of the greatest. “Tlale stands out for me as I feel that his craftsmanship showcases a lot of elegance and respect,” added Guru.


Fashion for many seems to be how many different colours one can wear and still look stylish, yet Guru says that colour blocking has become a trend even though that does not necessarily define whether one is a fashion icon or not.
“What one dresses like is ones voice. It’s the way one wants to be interpreted and how one wants to be seen as. Whether you’re in 50 colours or not,” added Guru.

“The State of Guru” seems to be on the pipeline for now but big plans are being made to ensure that his name gets out there and in your space.

“This industry is extremely competitive, however I do plan to get my brand out there.” said Guru. Plans of getting himself out there are to officially launch his clothing label in the next year. And yes Kasi Times will be there!

 

By Nonhlanhla Kobokwana

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Ispan’-The Translator

Born in a small town in Elliot in the Eastern Cape, grew up Finetown in South of Johannesburg, Xolani Nameko, took a career choice that not many go for. He is a translator. He is the man behind the subtitles we see our on favourite soapies and drama series on television.

Beginnings
His journey started in 2008, when he was part of a mentorship programme that was aimed at grooming documentary directors. Within the programme he was able to venture into other aspects of such as script writing. That’s when the translation bug got the better of him.

Achievements
He has worked in different documentaries such as Pinky and the computer, From the edge, Developing stories, Firmly in the driving sit and Samstaan again. All these documentaries were aired on SABC2.

My highlights
His highlight is working for Inkaba which is on M-net as a translator. This opportunity came when Urban brew studios was looking for someone to fill the space. He happened to be in the right place at the right time, with the right experience.

Characteristics of a translator
One needs to have a good ear for words and knowing more one African languages is also an advantage because in some productions you work with a script but in others one has to translate from their own understanding. Also his love for writing,reading made it easy for him to venture in translation. Good communication skills also plays an important role in being a good translator.

Challenges
Sometimes actors turn to mix their lines and it’s the translator’s duty to make it sensible to the viewers. As some people depend solely on reading.

The future
His focus is to make it to the soapie world and make his mark in the television industry in South Africa.

By Nikiwe Titus

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Tertiary applications deadline: Apply now, and apply wisely, for post-matric studies

There are only a few days left before the applications for admission to public higher education institutions close, and it is imperative that matriculants use this time to ensure they have good options open to them next year, an education expert warns. The deadline for application to many public institutions is already a few days away, at the end of August, while some will accept applications until September.

“In these last days before the applications for admission to public institutions close, there is often an increasing feeling of anxiety,” says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of the Independent Institute of Education. “School-leavers are nervous about the decisions they need to make, and naturally question whether they are making the right choices,” she says.

The Department of Higher Education recently launched the “Apply now!”campaign, which seeks to avoid a repeat of the desperation witnessed at the start of the current academic year when thousands upon thousands of young people had to be turned away from tertiary education institutions, many of them because they failed to apply timeously.

But Coughlan says that in addition to registering before deadline, prospective students also had to ensure that their applications would open up opportunities and a range of choices to them, to ensure that they were not limited next year because their first or only choices did not materialise.

“Remember that in terms of the new higher education qualifications framework, there are multiple routes to most destinations,” she says.

Plan B and why you should have one

“Matriculants are strongly advised to apply to more than one institution and faculty, and to keep their minds wide open to the less conventional options that will give them direct and immediate access to the fast track to fulfilling their dreams.”

Coughlan says while most young people will chase the university bachelor degree pass level as their goal, many will not achieve the required marks to qualify for their first choice of institution.

“It is very important that you not only plan for what you want, but also for the alternative road you might take if you don’t get exactly what you planned for,” says Coughlan. “That way, you won’t be short of choices or even completely out of options come January. And if you do not really know what you want, it is especially important to keep your options wide open,” she says.

Succeeding in the right qualification takes you further than the expected one will

Coughlan advises parents to keep in mind that the life being lived is not theirs: “Just because your son or daughter qualifies for acceptance into, for instance, an engineering or medicine programme, does not mean that this is their chosen path or where they will find happiness and success.

“Your child is more likely to succeed by choosing the right route for him or her, than the one everyone else would choose. Remember too that while degrees do have real value, they are not the only respected course of study and, in some cases, are not the most efficient route to the chosen destination. ”

Coughlan further says that, if parents, teachers or peers have exercised normative pressure, now would be the time to correct that. “Encourage your child to apply for the things they want to do at the places where they will find a good match to their temperament and aspirations.  This will dramatically increase their chances of success.”

Many, many more quality options available now

“In addition to the 23 public institutions, there is a strong private sector with 116 registered and accredited institutions which offer students meaningful choices in terms of where and what they study, and the environment in which they choose to study,” says Coughlan.

“While degree study makes sense for some, it is important to note that strong, high quality vocationally oriented Diplomas are associated with high levels of post-graduation employment, because they focus on work ready skills and thus produce graduates who can add value to a company soon after employment.”

Keep your options (and your mind) open

“When the doors to public institutions begin to close over the next month, there will still be many other quality options open to students, as most private institutions have later closing dates for applications with many accepting applications in to February,” notes Coughlan.

“Do your homework to understand what your options are and ensure that the institution you are considering meets your requirements in terms of registration, accreditation, campus environment, affordability, student support and quality.    Keep your options open but keep your mind open too.  The next six months will define what you are able to do next – your actions now will determine whether you have a range of workable options available to you when those results come in in January 2013.”

 

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Seven ways to master your emails

By Esther Etkin

Try these seven ways to make a good first impression every time you send an email.

With the growing use of email to apply for jobs, internships and other opportunities, email messaging skills have become more important than ever before. From grammar to greetings, remember these basic rules every time you hit ‘send’.

1. Mind your language

“Grammar rules apply to emails,” says Ulrike Hill, business facilitator and writer at Writer’s Write, which offers practical courses in business and creative writing. “Capital letters should be used at the beginning of sentences and are used for proper nouns.” She adds: “Using capital letters throughout an email is the same as showing you’re angry.” The same applies to using only lowercase letters in an email, which may send the message that you’re lazy or unprofessional.

2. Spell Check!

There’s no excuse for sending sloppy emails! MS Outlook, Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo all have spell check features to check your messages – so take the time to figure out how these work. If you pick up typos or spelling errors after you’ve sent an email, and you’re applying for a job or the recipient is an important person, “resend the email without errors and in the subject line state that the previous email should be ignored,” advises Hill. She adds that it’s a good idea to get into the habit of always reading through emails before you send them: “There are errors that may creep in that are not picked up by the spell-checker, such as ‘there/their’.”

3. Laws of attachments

Sent an email but forgot that all-important attachment like your cover letter or CV? Now what? “Honesty is the best policy,” says Hill. “Emails are a common form of communication and to a large extent have replaced telephonic conversation. Send another email with the attachment. In the body of the email explain that you had forgotten to send the attachment.” As for sending very large attachments, rather link to downloadable documents or use free services such as sendspace.com or dropbox.com. Large files (over 5 MB) are more likely to get blocked or could slow down your recipient’s email – not a good way to start your relationship with them.

4. All in a name

If you’re sending attachments such as CVs and cover letters, “save your document in .pdf format before sending the email,” recommends Hill. Word documents can result in formatting issues if opened on a different system to the one used to create the document. Also read job advertisements carefully as they may stipulate in which format CVs should be sent. Read the full story

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How to choose the right place (for you) to study

Matrics have to make numerous stressful decisions during their last year at school, and they are often neither equipped nor able to access concise and accurate information which will have an extended impact on their lives. One of these decisions – whether to study at a college, university or private higher-education institution – can be particularly baffling, especially when students continue to be confronted by myths such as that certain kinds of institutions are inherently “better” or guarantee employment upon completion of studies.

Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of the Independent Institute of Education, says choosing where to study is a personal decision that must be taken with care, as the various institutions are not interchangeable and one size does not fit all. “When you are making a decision about what to study and where, it is important to note that there are a wide range of different opportunities, and that the decision is ultimately a personal one. You need to consider what you need, what you can afford and what you would prefer to get from a learning space, and then choose your institution accordingly.”

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande recently encouraged matriculants to not only think of universities when looking at furthering their studies, but to consider all the different opportunities available to them, within the post-school education and training system. “Our youth must start realising that our post-school education and training system offers far more options than just what our universities have traditionally offered,” he told the class of 2011.

Dr Coughlan welcomed the increased focus on options outside the traditional offering. However, she reiterated the Minister’s words of caution that students must ensure they are signing up to a reputable institution – whether public or private – that meets their specific needs, to avoid losing precious time and money. “Always ensure that the institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training, but also speak to students and investigate the reputation of an institution before committing money and time,” she says.

Faced with the baffling choice of post-matric institutions available, Coughlan says the following needs to be understood: Read the full story

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Mission Objective: Finding Funding

So you’ve decided you want to keep studying after school. What are your options and how do you make sure you don’t run into problems with the finance office?

By Ross Edwards

In a perfect life, you’re a rich kid with no financial worries, right? You simply choose the university course you want, apply and money’s not even a consideration. You just do it because you can. Unfortunately that’s the reality for a very, very small number of South Africans wanting to study after school. For most of us, the options are simple: get a bursary, a scholarship or a study loan.

You probably know this already but a bursary provides money for your studies, granted on the basis of your financial need. By contrast, scholarships are merit-based and are awarded for academic achievement. Bursaries are financial-need based awards that don’t have to be repaid.  The main objective of most undergraduate bursary programmers is to supplement, not replace, a student’s primary sources of funding such as government student financial assistance from another province or loan funding from a financial institution.

Basically, if you fall into one of the three following categories, you probably need funding:

  • You’re still at school and figuring out how to fund further studies
  • You’re currently studying and need funds to continue or further your studies
  • You’re a young adult wanting to study further but you need financial assistance.

Many universities, organisations and companies offer both bursaries and scholarships. You need to make contact with the university you’re thinking of studying at and ask them what options are available to you as a potential undergraduate student. Sometimes the hardest challenge is finding enough money to fund your first year of study, then working as hard as possible and using your first year results to apply for funding for your second year forward and possible postgraduate study like honours or a higher diploma.

One typical example of funding sources is the National Student Financial Aid Scheme of South Africa (NSFAS) who administer four bursary funds.

1. Teaching. The Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme is a multi-year programme that promotes teaching in public schools. Full-cost bursaries are available for qualifying students to complete a full teaching qualification in an area of national priority. Bursary recipients are required to teach at a public school for the same number of years they receive the bursary. Visit www.funzalushaka.doe.gov.za for more information.

2. Social Work. Bursaries for studies in Social Work are provided by the Department of Social Development. Students apply for these bursaries at provincial department offices. Note that these bursaries have a work-back condition, where a student must work for the Department of Social Development for the same number of years for which the bursary was received.

3. National Skills Fund. Bursaries from the National Skills Fund are made available to students who focus on a scarce skills area, as defined by the fund. University selection committees will determine which students qualify for these funds. A mandate of the Skills Development Act of 1998 provides bursary funding to undergraduate students in these 17 specific scarce skills areas:

Accounting, Actuarial Studies, Agriculture, Auditing, Bio-Technology, Business Management, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Financial Accounting, Financial Management, Geology, Information Systems, Mathematical Sciences, Physics, and Statistics.

4. FET (Further Education and Training) College Bursaries. Bursaries for the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) and for certain National Technical Education (Nated) courses at FET Colleges are available for qualifying students. If you’re interested, you must apply for funding through the Student Support Services office of the specific FET College you want to study at. There is no employment condition attached to these bursaries.

Thinking outside the Box

An avenue not often considered by South African students is overseas studies. Some international universities specifically offer  academic scholarships to hard-working students from other countries. With many young people taking a gap-year between finishing high school and starting university, why not consider applying for funding at an overseas university? Remember too that in North America, the UK and Europe, the academic year starts in September each year, which gives you a bit more time to make your plans accordingly. And if you’re a top academic student looking for postgrad funding, don’t forget that opportunities like the Rhodes scholarship offer amazing study experiences at Oxford University in the UK.

Bursary, Scholarship or Study Loan? What’s the difference?

A bursary is funding granted on the basis of pure financial need. You will need to show in your application that you are deserving of funding and cannot study without it.

A Scholarship is merit-based and awarded for consistent academic achievement, usually reviewed annually after your end-year exam results. If your marks fall below the required standard, you will lose your scholarship. So work hard!

A Study Loan is money you borrow from an organisation or institution to cover the costs of your tertiary studies. The most important thing to remember is that a study loan will need to be repaid, usually after you qualify and start work. Some companies offer study loans and a guaranteed job with the company afterwards. This is a great way of getting a qualification, work experience and the money to pay back your loan.

Content courtesy of Career Planet - www.careerplanet.co.za

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What does it take to be an Entrepreneur?

 

“The key is finding a gap in the market, or to do something better than anyone else does.”

Do you like the idea of being your own boss?  Self-employment can be very rewarding if you realise that being an entrepreneur isn’t all fun and getting off work early. Business owners usually have to work harder than the people they employ.

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but if the points below describe you then it may be a good career option to think about!

  1. I believe in myself and am willing to take risks in business
  2. I take responsibility for my actions and learn from my mistakes
  3. I am optimistic and self-motivated
  4. I know how to look for gaps in the market and turn these into business opportunities
  5. I set myself realistic goals and work towards these
  6. I have good organisational skills and know how to delegate tasks that I am not good at
  7. I have experience in this type of business
  8. I know how to set priorities with time and money
  9. I am not afraid of working long hours
  10. I am not afraid to fail. I learn from my mistakes and keep trying

Find the gaps in the market

Entrepreneurship does not always mean having to have a new idea. In fact, many successful businesses are built by companies doing something better than the competition.

“The key thing is finding a gap in the market,” Dylan Kohlstädt, Marketing Director of ShiftOneDigital says, “or to do something better than anyone else does.”

Market research will help you to spot the weaknesses in the products or services of your competition. Find out what customer REALLY want. Are they most concerned with quality, service or price? Make sure your business is set up to provide what they want. If customers see that you care about their needs they will support your business and you will get ahead – even in a competitive market.

Opportunities are all around you! Keep your eyes and ears open for ideas. 

  • Read the newspaper and magazines
  • Watch television
  • Talk to people
  • Go to markets, informal trading areas and shopping malls

Things to look out for: Read the full story

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10 Do’s & Don’ts of Office Etiquette

So you’ve just started your new job, fresh out of the classroom and placed in an office environment. The comfort of having exams at monthly intervals are now a thing of the past, you may not be writing a formal exam but you are definitely going to be tested every day. First impressions are of utmost importance! This is the best time to perfect your office etiquette skills. Workplace etiquette is about much more than the daily practice of saying good day, please, hello and thank you. Office etiquette means being thoughtful when interacting with your peers, superiors, clients and even the cleaning staff. It is about respect and courtesy! Here are the top ten office etiquette do’s and don’ts…

The absolute no no’s

1. Being late: Not only is being late rude and disrespectful, it is punishable! Being late is a bad reflection on your reliability and work ethic. Arriving at work early and leaving late, is a good way of earning the trust and respect you are trying build in your new job.

2. Slang: Never ever make use of slang in your workplace! It is unprofessional and improper. Be mindful of the manner in which you speak to colleagues and especially superiors, these are not friends or family members. Use of proper language and courteous manners will take you a long way in the working world.

3. Mini Skirts & Flip Flops: Days of rolling out of bed, putting on the T-shirt you wore yesterday and those old shoes from three years ago are long over! It is not proper office etiquette to go to work dressed like you are getting ready for the club or beach. Make sure you are neat, tidy and properly dressed for work. If you want to be a leader than you need to dress like one!

4. Office Equipment: Do not use office supplies simply because they are there and you have permission to use them. This may include office supplies, internet, telephones and company resources. Abusing and misusing office equipment creates Read the full story

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What Next? An internship may be just what you need!

So you’re faced with some tough questions:  What next? Who am I? What do I want? When fresh out of school, the thought of your future can drive you crazy! As South African youth we have unlimited opportunities so we should be proactive in our approach. Have you thought about doing an internship? Internships can help take you gain experience and decide if that job or career path is really for you.

What is an Internship?

An internship is an opportunity to apply knowledge that you’ve learned while studying in a practical workplace setting. It gives you a head start in your search to find the perfect career! An internship lets you get a foot in the working world by helping you gain the experience and skills that are needed in a working environment. These skills may range from answering phones to arranging meetings and most importantly teaching you how to conduct yourself in a work place environment. Ivan Epstein, entrepreneur founder and CEO says, “It makes a profound difference to discover whether you have a passion for a particular career by being exposed to the processes and the daily routine. In many instances, interns take up permanent positions as they will possess the necessary skills to perform the job with confidence in addition to being acclimated to the company culture.”

When is the right time to apply for an internship?

Before applying for an internship, it is important that know all the facts involved. There is nothing worse than having only half of your plan, so creating a plan of action for the road ahead is very important.

    • Make use of the resources around you:  Your teachers, career counsellors, Student Advisors or your lecturers are good resources that you may tap into when trying to discover what your Internship options are. The information that you will be able to get from these individuals may prove to be invaluable when it comes to internship and study options.
    • Knowing yourself: Many people say that to be happy is to know yourself, but who really does? A more practical way of looking at this point is to look at what your likes and dislikes are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. The importance of knowing yourself is knowing your potential! Without an idea of your potential you will not be able to critically look at your Internship options.
    • Having an end goal in sight:  The next important step is setting an end goal. Having a plan in mind as to what you would like to achieve from the internship experience.  Write down what it is that you expect from the internship and what you wish to walk away with. Developing a plan of action is the best way to visualise and map where you are going.
    • Being the early bird: You need to be proactive in your approach to finding the best options available to you. Career expos at university or school are a good way of getting in touch with the opportunities on offer as well as time to connect with professionals in the field. Gather information from people in careers that interest you, your friends; family and individuals around you are the best places to start. ASK & LEARN!
    • The right one for you: An important part of the internship process is finding the right one. After looking at your plan of action, you should have an idea as to the career path which you would like to follow. It is an opportunity which you would like to follow not just because it’s the first option available. During this stage it is important to consult with your peers, parents and teachers so that they may be able to advise you as to the best way forward and even point out things you didn’t think about.

Going Forward

So now that you know all you need to know about internships, the only thing left is compiling your CV and writing your cover letter. There are many resources available to help you during this stage of planning your future. Have a look at the CV writing essentials at www.careerplanet.co.za .  The way forward lies with you!

Visit Ivan Epstein – Founder and CEO of Softline Accounting and Business Management Company at http://blog.softline.co.za/about/

Words by: Xena Scullard

Content Courtesy of Career Planet www.careerplanet.co.za

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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.

Read the full story

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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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Tips for Online Job-hunting

online job-hunting

It can be hard work looking for jobs online. Try these smart-search strategies to make the internet work for you – not the other way around.

It’s Monday. Job-hunt day! You’re up at 8am. Ready to go by 9am. Coffee in hand, you think about where to start…tick…tock…tick…tock

Where to start?

The key to any job search is knowing what you are looking for. You need to decide where you want to work, what you want to do, and how much you’re willing to get paid for the job.

It often helps to start with an exercise, which I like to call “Brainstorm Myself.” Be honest and list what you’re good at, as well as any achievements you’ve accomplished (at school, church or volunteering).

Write down answers to the following:

  • Your ideal first job (Top 5 but, BE REALISTIC!) – what kind of job you are looking for
  • Where you would like to work (the company/individual)
  • What skills and characteristics do you have, so you can get a better picture of what you have to offer
  • Why you want to do that job
  • Your short and long-term goals

What’s next?

Job-hunting used to be about getting the newspaper and trawling through the jobs section or classifieds. Whilst newspapers are still a good place to look for opportunities, particularly your community paper, the internet is another great place to look – at home, school, your local library or internet café. Online job-hunting takes practice, however. And be prepared, some internet cafés may charge by the minute.

What do I search for?

If you do a Google search (www.google.co.za) for “job opportunities in South Africa”, approximately 441,000,000 results come up…EEK! That’s not a good place to start! Use the answers from your brainstorm exercise above and start by typing these keywords into the search field. Use these keywords to search for jobs with specific skill requirements rather than searching for jobs in general. Find out which job portals are most popular for the type of work you are looking for. You can ask your teacher/lecturers, friends, past employers, relatives or mentor. Many career sites advertise opportunities for “first jobs”, “graduates”, “Matriculants”, “Part-time” or “No experience needed”. Add these keywords in your searches. You may need to use the advanced search option. There are a number of websites listed at the end of this article to help get you started.

You should also read about the companies you would like to work for and learn about what they do; understand their vision and see if you truly want to work for them. Do they have positions available at your level? Do they have jobs for school-leavers, graduates or offer internships or apprenticeships? Check out their websites for employment or other opportunities they may promoting, including internship or graduate programmes, under the Vacancies, Careers or Jobs section.

Be SPECIFIC and CREATIVE

Be creative. For example, when looking for jobs in Sales or Retail, type in retail assistant, sales consultant, customer service agent, shop assistant, etc. By doing this, you are searching for the same kind of job in many different ways.

So, when typing in search terms or filling in entry fields on job websites, the trick is to include as much detail as possible to narrow your hunt and get closer to the job that’s right for you.

  • Include the industry you want to work in Job type and title
  • Location: City or area you’d like to work in. Most career sites today give you the option, use it!
  • Level (junior/mid/management): keep it real! Look for jobs within your experience level to maximise your chances of getting an interview
  • Full-time/ Part-time/ Contract/ Permanent: in these hard times, explore what’s out there. You never know if a part-time position will turn into something more permanent. It’ll also count as experience to add to your CV, which most employers look for. Good luck!

By: Liat Beinart (Graduate Development Consultant) at S-Connect (http://s-connect.blogspot.com/)

 

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