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As part of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) Alumni Mentorship Programme to bridge the gap between student life and mainstream society, the Advancement and Alumni Relations Office hosted a webinar on Tips and Advice on Work Readiness and CV Writing via Microsoft Teams on Monday, 28 June 2021.

Facilitating the webinar was DUT’s Fundraising and Alumni Relations Manager, Mrs. Nishie Govender, who introduced the guest speaker, who is a DUT Environmental Health Alumnus, Ms. Ntombizine Fikeni. She was recently appointed as the Senior Manager of Environmental Health Services at King Cetshwayo District Municipality and is a current member of the DUT Convex. Fikeni served on the DUT Student Representative Council (SRC) as the Treasurer-General for the year 2011 to 2012.

Govender welcomed the guests and assured them that they will find the webinar valuable.
“This webinar forms part of a series of webinars on mentorship that the Advancement and Alumni Relations Office will be hosting. The first was held in May with Ms. Arusha Dasrath, who is the Managing Director of Supreme Consulting as the guest speaker. Her presentation focused on what makes a beneficial mentorship programme, what are the roles of mentors and mentees and the advantages of being in a mentorship programme. For future webinars you will be advised accordingly of the dates of the webinars, the topics, and speakers,” said Govender.

She further explained that Fikeni would be focusing on advice on work readiness and CV writing, as a CV is usually the first impression one makes with the potential employer. Govender said workplace readiness skills are important because they ensure that workers have the basic academic, critical thinking and personal skills necessary to maintain employment.

Fikeni said the objectives of her presentation was to equip with skills, final year students, recent graduates, and job seekers. She said the reality is that when one goes to a university, the main purpose is to get employment or for business opportunities.

“The idea is that after you have graduated from DUT, wherever you go, whether you opt for business or employment, when you go for those interviews, you become the first option as compared to other universities. The quality of knowledge skills that you get after you have graduated, it must make sure that you are number 1. Sometimes you will ask yourself where you get those experiences, that’s why when you do your assignments and projects while at the University you make sure that you do it right to acquire all the necessary skills. It will also cover knowledge sharing because it might happen that you have got the qualification, but you do not know what will work for you. It might happen that you are working but you still need to improve your skills to get a better job or better position,” said Fikeni.

She said it is important for people to constantly update their CV’s, looking at changing its version to the one that works for them.

Sharing the CV writing tips, Fikeni said the CV is the first step for any job search, because when someone is looking for a job, he/she needs to craft a CV that represents them well. Fikeni explained that when the employer opens the CV, they must be able to tell what kind of a person the owner of the CV is based on the personal information provided.

“The information provided must be accurate, remember when they employ you and discover that you included wrong information, they might dismiss or decline the offer, even if you have already started work. We have seen in some higher positions, people that have been appointed or working for years only to find that they included wrong information. If you are a job seeker, make sure that at least after every two days or once a week you check your emails, because some employers will contact you via email seeking information before they can even shortlist you. Proofread what you have written in your CV. Some people believe that the CV must be two to three pages. Mine is four pages, excluding the motivational letter. It depends on an individual but make sure you include things that will market you, the unique skills relevant to your profession that will set you apart from other applicants,” said Fikeni.

Furthermore, she explained that it is important for one to know which information to put first on the CV. She also advised that crafting a professional CV does not need experience, a student could include the skills he/she acquired during his/her studies on the projects done at university and mention the different skills obtained from Work Integrated Learning. Looking at online applications, Fikeni advised that applicants should submit correct and recent information, relevant to the position that one is applying for. She said it is vital to follow the instructions to avoid being disqualified during the selection process.

Fikeni said qualifications without skills are meaningless. She said as an individual it is important that one identifies his/her unique skills and try to capitalise on them. According to Fikeni once people start identifying their skills, they will be able to work towards achieving their goals. She mentioned that continuous reading also helps one to self-develop and become updated with the latest information. Once one has acquired the skills and knows his or her goal, Fikeni said the next step is to assess whether one is ready for work.

“You now have your basic academic, reading, writing, basic math and communication skills. Critical thinking: once shortlisted, you must be able to think beyond what is presented to you. This can be only done through reading. Interpersonal skills and professional competency is very important. Once employed, you will be able to use all these skills to make your work environment much easy. Looking at work pressure and dynamics, at university we are not taught to deal with work pressure. At times, some colleagues may feel intimidated by you and will try to suppress you, but that does not mean you must be miserable. You must understand your boundaries and protocols, as well as understand the work ethics. Always seek written instructions in cases where you feel you are being asked to do something that is wrong, which will serve as your back up, should things go wrong. Time management is very important to be able to adjust to any work environment. Respect the dress code and always try to be proactive, sharing innovative ideas,” advised Fikeni.

Speaking about managing the working life, Fikeni said one must understand what is expected from them and always strive to add value. She said it is important to do the work during working hours and always seek assistance from supervisors when facing difficulty, saying this will ensure a healthy work life.

Fundraising and Stewardship Officer at the Advancement and Alumni Relations Office, Ms. Pretty Zulu conducted the question-and-answer session. She also highlighted the department’s two main initiatives that they seek funding for, which is the DUT Bursary Fund and the Phakimpilo Programme, a food security initiative launched to assist needy students across DUT, to provide at least one meal a day.

Zipho Chamane discussed the different ways one can make donations towards projects to help to continue improving lives and livelihoods. Concluding the webinar, Govender, thanked Fikeni for the thought-provoking presentation and the guests for their fruitful engagement.

Pictured: Ntombizine Fikeni.

Simangele Zuma

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