Change of focus does not mean a change of purpose

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One thing I know that is constant in life is change, and many of us panic when we are forced to change our great plans and have not thought of plan B.

As a graduate, armed with a degree or degrees, you never imagined that you would struggle to get employment. Months go by and sometimes years, without any prospects. It is very normal to become despondent. I am here to tell you it is not the end of the world, do not give up.

I graduated from UCT with a Bachelor of Social Science, majors in Industrial Psychology and Industrial Sociology. I then went on to do a one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing Management.

I was convinced that by the time I left university and started applying for work I would get calls and attend interviews. After all, I had Industrial Psychology and this qualification was in demand.

Calls did come and I attended interviews, however, none of them resulted in permanent employment. Days turned into months, and months turned into years.

I eventually decided to volunteer at church as the pastor’s PA, and I must say I learned a lot, and it prepared me for office administration. A year later I went to Canada and I was employed as an Office Administrator. A year later I came back to South Africa and shortly after I was employed as Project Administrator at Nedcor (Nedbank). This opened doors in project management and by the time I left the organisation I was a Helpdesk Manager with a team of 3.

Over the years I have acquired Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration, I have been certified as a Project Manager with PMI and accredited as a Facilitator by ETDP SETA. I have recruited talent, trained people in customer service, conflict management, and work readiness. I have attended emotional intelligence workshops and signed up for mentoring sessions for personal development. When I look back I realise this journey has not been wasted at all; I am now doing what I am passionate about.

There are two quotes that I like “You can teach a skill, but you cannot teach an attitude”, and “attitude determines altitude”. I was not prepared to give up and I had to find ways to keep myself busy and was determined to learn whatever I could.

So, while you are waiting for that opportunity, look for ways to upskill, to network, and to grow as an individual. What should I do, you ask?

  • Get a mentor
  • Do volunteer work
  • Attend networking sessions
  • Upskill yourself
  • Update your CV

Employers get impressed when they see a CV that reflects determination and passion despite the challenges. Some of the qualities that employers look for are:

  • Tenacity
  • Problem-solving
  • Work ethic and professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Willingness to learn
  • Flexibility
  • Passion

You are in control of your life. They say, “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade”. Your attitude will determine how sweet or sour your lemonade is.

Miriam Ndlela – for The Experience Factory

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