detail - South Africa Office
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On August 17 the SAIIA Head Office on Wits University campus in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) hosted the Gauteng edition of the annual SAIIA-KAS Careers Evening. Students of different subjects within the Humanities, including International Relations, Development Studies, Political Studies, Sociology, Economics, Law, Media and Journalism were given the opportunity to meet and engage with a diversity of exhibitors comprising representatives from the media, business sector, various government agencies, and scholarship organisations present at the event. With more than 300 students attending the Careers Evening the 2017 edition highlighted the sustained interest of young academics to pursue their careers and weigh on the various opportunities to excel within the Humanities.
The exhibition phase was followed by a premier panel discussion with speakers Gareth Cliff, Itumeleng Komanyane, Megan Harrington-Johnson and Kenneth Diole. In telling their personal stories of success the panelists gave professional as well as highly personal insights into how they accomplished their walks of life and finding a deeper meaning in what do for a living. More than just informing about possible career paths within a nowadays fiercely contested job market, all panelists highlighted the importance of setting personal goals and creating an awareness of what the students want to achieve not only within but also after their studies.
Kenneth Diole, a Political Science and International Relations Graduate from the University of Pretoria, encouraged the students to “put a premium to their name”. Paramount to achieving that aim is, according to Diole, not only hard work but also to establish and maximize connections within one’s career path. Also, even with a masters degree in their pockets students should still have the ability to start from the bottom, i.e. “scrape the floor”, and never consider themselves too good for any kind of work within a certain careers path. From a lawyer’s perspective working in the private sector, Megan Harrington-Johnson stressed that students seeking to work in corporate should start as early as possible and do as much field work as they can. Itumeleng Komanyane also highlighted the right mindset for a student’s future work – it is not the degree that puts young professionals anywhere but rather their yearning for learning. Being the last speaker, famous South African radio and television presenter Gareth Cliff mentioned the massive opportunity that Africa presents for especially young people and therefore encouraged the students not to leave the continent once they finished their studies but rather to contribute to (South) Africa’s future.
The 2017 SAIIA-KAS Careers Evening not only enabled students to get in touch with the exhibitors and explore the very practical nature of future careers opportunities within the Humanities. But moreover, and owing to the excellent panelists, the students where emboldened to thrive within their academic disciplines and imagine a positive future. Or to put it in Itumeleng Komanyane words: “Whatever your dream is, it’s valid.”