My journey as a Black female graduate in South Africa
By Khanyisa Titus
I am a black female graduate living in South Africa where I was born and raised. I had a deep rooted passion for Journalism and Media and wanted to do whatever it took to get me into this industry. I was fortunate to have been accepted into a top university that was rated the highest in its offering of this particular field and degree. I was hopeful of a very bright future but now 9 years later I sit with a pondering statement in my mind that says, “I was never warned”.
As high school pupils we are told that to have a brighter future, you need to go to university, get a degree, then a good job, then a big house with a spouse, a dog and kids. Yep, the “perfect life” as it so seems. We are made to believe that there is a formula for this “life game” that we are all trying to win, but from my own experiences; the so called formula does not actually work unless you create your own. What do I mean by your own? Well allow me to break it down for you. Now, if you’re reading this then you’re obviously a young man or woman who has just graduated at tertiary level, or is nearing their final years and sitting at the top of your mind is “what’s next? Do I want to work as an employee or start my own business?” These are crucial questions that you need to answer with a deep introspection of the kind of person that you are. Are you a leader or a follower? Can you manage projects that you have uniquely developed or would you rather work in a team on projects that will meet the overall goals of your boss? Anyway, back to me.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Social Science triple major, an Honours degree with Cum Laude and a Masters degree for which I was awarded a scholarship to pursue, I felt on top if the world. I felt like I could be ANYTHING I wanted to be and that I was exactly what the South African Media industry required. But, guess what, after graduating with such high accolades to my name, I spent a month looking for work. Yes, I was not getting employment anywhere. I was a confused and asked myself how this was possible; I have 3 degrees for heaven’s sake! I eventually got a job and was employed for a good two years then came a time where I resigned and for a whole year after that I would submit my CV to various media company, big and small and would not even get response as to whether my application was successful or not. I was border line depressed with no clue what the cause of all this could be and again in my mind was, “I am a graduate how can I not be employable?
And I’m black and a female.” It took that year for me to realise that as Black graduates whether, whether male or female, you need look at different options and not reply solely on what you studied at school. You need to realise that you may be unemployable because there are just too many people offering the same skills and educational background as you and therefore move on. As young people, what works in our favour is the fact that we are just that – young, and alive with many possibilities. We have the energy to start up a business in a completely different industry and make it work for ourselves. We have the ability to look for funding opportunities and get start up capitals that can assist in whatever our dreams may be. Once I realised that the job market was not taking me in I too registered my own private company and even with its own challenges it still stands today and has taught me different things about the entrepreneurship industry.
Moral of the story, if your industry fails you in giving you a job do not give up. Open yourself up to new opportunities. Step out of your comfort zone, network with a different crowd and people who speak a different professional language to yours. Your degree does not define you however, do take the skills that it has equipped you with and get out there to be the best young professional you can be who does not shy away from new opportunities. Remember, what is meant to be yours may be a few doors away. Stay empowered!