I finally have my Public Relations Management Degree and even though it was my second graduation ceremony, it still was a momentous achievement to relive.
After receiving my Diploma from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), my friends all opted to do their BTech full-time while I ended up doing mine part-time over two years to get as much work experience in my field. However, the first four months were really tough.
I was freelancing for a company where I completed my internship programme. Unfortunately, they were unable to keep me on permanently and during that time, I sent my CV to over 70 companies with only five responses to come for an interview but received no call back thereafter.
In May 2014, I was required to do a research portfolio which entailed that we do a qualitative research design method aka questionnaires. I sent mine to various PR and Media companies throughout the country and one responded with, “Hi Stephanie, yes I will do your questionnaire. I am actually also looking for a second intern to assist in my business so if this is something you would be interested in, please send me your cv. Thanks!”.
After pleading my case as to why I should be working at her consultancy even though I had no digital experience, she took me under her wing for at least 10 months before I got retrenched. I was only 22, still doing my Degree and it felt as if my whole world crashed around me.
Almost a day or so after she broke the news that I will be out of a job, I had no choice but to job hunt yet again. I called every recruitment consultancy I knew and was viciously on the Internet looking for a job that had best described the skills I had to offer. It was saddening and depressing because the job market is so competitive with organisations wanting at least five years of practical experience under your belt. And if there is nothing that sets you apart, your CV will be at the bottom of that enormous pile of candidates all anxiously waiting for a call.
I scored an interview four days later and was told during the interview that I needed to start the following week as a PR and Marketing Coordinator where I will be handling everything with no team. With barely two years behind my name, I had no choice but to pull up my socks, roll up my sleeves and show them what I had to offer. There’s nothing more daunting than walking into a role that seems bigger than what you are with thoughts going through your head that you might screw up.
At this time, I was in the second year of my BTech course and had two of the toughest subjects of all. Having to leave work at 5 and run to class in the evenings began to take a toll not only on my body but on my mind. On three occasions, I wanted to leave varsity simply because I was exhausted. Then nearly seven months in the textile industry, I decided to change jobs. Following a number of interviews and many disappointments, I got a job in a Law firm; completely out of my comfort zone and pretty much scary to say the least. What was scarier was the fact that my employer at the textile company asked if I could work for him on a part-time basis and with only three months left of university, I took it with both hands.
It was tough! Wait, tough is not even the correct word used for what I was going through. My sleeping hours were from 02:00 am to 05:30 am every night making sure that my part-time job didn’t clause with my full-time employment and I had to complete research assignments and managed this blog. As I’m typing this, I’m thinking how the hell did I get through this all without collapsing! As much I am proud of the supportive people in my world who helped me get to where I am today, please don’t stop because I’m not done yet. I’m applying to do my Honours next year in Communications so fingers crossed that I get in.
Graduation is still a process – a process of continuous learning and applying that process into valuable knowledge to succeed in the world. That piece of paper is great to have but it still means nothing in a country riddled to unemployment even if you have that Degree. It’s still not enough. I wasn’t fortunate as many of my peers in a financial sense and today, I’m still paying off student loans. Don’t let money dictate your path to education because during my first month as a university student, we had no clue how to pay my fees and all my mother said was, “You go to class as if your fees are paid. Don’t worry about that until the year is over”.
Until next time.