Amongst other things, the aim of going to study in a tertiary institution is to get that paper. The one that certifies that you are knowledgeable in whatever course you’ve enrolled for. But what happens when 300 students receive that same diploma/degree that you have and graduate along with you? Now that is just considering the students in your college or university. Let’s take that number and multiply it by the number of institutions which offer the same course you just graduated in. I don’t know what the exact figure is, but I do know that it is a lot.
How do you then set yourself apart from the other thousands of students who’ve got the same qualification as you? How do you make sure that your CV stands out and recruiters see you amongst all those who’ve got the same skills as you?
These are the two main questions I think you need to keep in mind while studying. Yes, the immediate need is to submit assignments on time and pass semester tests and exams. But what happens after all of that? According to Stats SA 430 000 people were unemployed in 2017 and 7.3% were graduates. This number of unemployed graduates is horrifying to be honest and begs the question of whether a tertiary qualification is necessary. That, however needs an entire article dedicated to it.
The simplest answer to these questions is this; you need to get involved in things than can assist you to develop your career outside of the formal structures of learning. Do not confine yourself to only learning in lecture halls, find learning and development opportunities separate outside of that. Tertiary institutions are actually structured in aa manner which is conducive to this learning and development. Campus itself is a community of various industries which can assist you in building yourself for after varsity.
Working on campus is a viable option to consider while you’re studying towards getting that paper. Campus radio and newspaper are great starting points for aspiring broadcasters. Do not despise small beginnings because you do not know what they can lead to. A Girl Boss like Hilisani Ravele’s campus radio experience has been a contributing factor to the success of her career. She has co-hosted shows on Power FM and 94.7 to name a few. Even if you do not become a broadcaster, being on radio or writing for the newspaper will develop your communication skills and give you invaluable experience.
Here’s a brief list of other developmental avenues to consider while studying:
- Internships and volunteer programs – these provide great work experience and also indicate how your able to balance school and work
- Involvement in SRC and campus societies – these will expose you to how the working world is like through the various seminar/events the society organizes. You can pick a society which is both social and purposeful; for example, being part of the student’s law society as a law student is rudimentary.
- Part-time work: retail stores/tutoring
- Campus work: tutoring/ radio/newspaper/ IT services – working on campus is great because you would have access to it easily. There are various services provided by the varsity/college to students which need student to work in them. For example; the IT department helps students with issue they have with their own laptops; these services administered by “student employees”.
See your qualification as the bare minimum requirement to getting a job and work towards making your CV stand out from the rest of the applicants’.
I unfortunately did not have the foresight while I was still in varsity regarding all of this. Do not buy into the dream that all you need is a qualification and for that reason, finding a job will be easy; because a rude awakening awaits. By the time I realised the importance of truly moulding my career while studying, I was halfway through my second year and only had about a year and a half to try and up my game. Had I known the importance of this from orientation week in 1st year, I would’ve been more proactive about giving myself a competitive advantage from the onset.