By Nomkhosi Nhlapo, Synthesis Office Administrator
Mandela said “education is the key to success” yet not many students are afforded the luxury of studying further than matric. It is important that we teach our youth that it is okay to start somewhere. Your circumstances do not necessarily determine where you will end up.
Work readiness programmes are a critical part in empowering our youth to enter the job market and in turn stimulate the economy. We need to teach these students how to prepare themselves for an interview and most importantly give them a chance to learn and be taught when they get that job. Instead of giving them the “we need someone with experience line” because that really discourages them and all they want to do is make their communities and families proud and contribute to the economic growth of our country.
Afrika Tikkun Masterclasses
We hosted masterclasses with two groups, one from Cape Town and one from Orange Farm. We launched the masterclass sessions because we saw how hungry these students were to gain knowledge on interview etiquette, more importantly we saw a gap in the market and realised that most students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have completed their matric year didn’t know how to embark on a journey of finding and securing employment. Assisting youth from various walks of life has been a passion of mine and I jumped at the opportunity to work on this initiative.
Our sessions spanned over a period of three days and we encountered some of the most passionate and eager to learn youth from Afrika Tikkun. We educated these students on how to prepare for interviews, how to prepare a CV and how to search for jobs on the various search portals that are available. As we all know looking for a job fresh out of high school or university is a daunting task and with no knowledge on how to go about doing this, certain things can get lost along the way.
It was important for us to not only take these students through the “joys of looking for a job” but to also equip them with valuable life skills on how to conduct themselves professionally during interviews and how to prepare adequately for interviews so they can reach their individual career goals.
The topic of interview etiquette was the most fundamental in our sessions. I trained with every individual on mock interview questions and how to best represent themselves in interviews and give them an experience that not every interview should be perceived as scary. It should be a conversation between like-minded individuals. They also had to realise they have the opportunity to interview the company they will potentially be working for. That mindset made most of the students in our sessions relax and gave them the confidence to go out there and getting the job of their dreams.
What I learned about the youth
I learnt a lot as well while teaching these students and I realised that a lot of youth don’t know where to start when looking for a job as they don’t get taught this in school. They did not know how to formulate a CV or know what to include. They had the idea that you only create a CV once you have notable work accolades rather than creating the CV when you finish school and you can even include high school accolades to sell yourself as an unemployed person.
Why the rejection and how to overcome it?
Having worked in recruitment for many years you often find yourself sifting through tons of CVs, and most of the time you end up with CVs from graduates who apply for the wrong positions.
I really wanted to educate graduates that you can apply for a job 1 000 times and not get a reply because it is a job you do not qualify for. You need to think of yourself as a brand and market yourself as “the best candidate for the job” simply by applying for the right roles.
Youth get discouraged when applying for jobs because they do not know why they are being rejected. They do not get callbacks for interviews because they are searching for jobs in the wrong places. And end up stagnating and lose hope.
When you look for a job you need to be creative, you need to think outside the box and be smart and be tactful in your job approaches. Most of these students didn’t know how to navigate a LinkedIn job search or a Pnet or Career Junction search and I took them through this journey.
It is critical for us at Synthesis to partake in these initiatives so that we empower our youth and equip them with the tools they need for them to enter the job market. Thinking back, I wish I were told these things in high school.