There is a well-known Confucius quote: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." For students participating in the Science and Mathematics at Stellenbosch University (SciMathUS) Programme, this quote is especially significant.
SciMathUS students are not only given a second chance to qualify for higher education through the programme but they are also given an opportunity to participate in the SciMathUS Graduate Employability Initiative (SGEI), which helps them make informed career decisions and exposes them to the dream job they love.
The SGEI is a collaborative effort between SciMathUS, based at Stellenbosch University, and Thyme2B, a career and employability coaching company. The goals of the SGEI are to support current SciMathUS students to make informed career choices and to build and enhance their self-confidence and their people and soft skills. A next phase includes assisting fFormer SciMathUS students in developing and expanding their social networks during their higher education journey and supporting them in making the transition into first-time employment.
According to Dr Elza Lourens, a SciMathUS facilitator and the one who spearheads the SGEI, helping students with career choices and building social networks are vital to their career success. “Research shows that accessing the job market becomes increasingly difficult if a prior possible work network is not built. With the SGEI, we want to help students explore their passion and help them to decide on careers that will be best for them in the long term."
The SGEI was founded in March this year and is still in its pilot phase pending funding to continue helping SciMathUS students in the future. The initiative has helped the 100 current SciMathUS students with career choices and the development of networks. One of those students is Karabo Thobejane, a current SciMathUS student interested in Astronomy and Astrophysics. He was able to visit the South African Astronomy Observatory (SAAO) in Cape Town to talk and spend the day with astrophysicist Mrs Shazrene Mohammed.
“Mrs Shazrene was very friendly and explained how things work in the career field of Astronomy. I was also fortunate to chat with other SAAO staff, astronomers, PhD students and postdoctoral research fellows at the SAAO. SciMathUS has so far been very critical to my growth. I learned that knowledge without understanding is worthless," says Thobejane.
Apart from career opportunities, the SGEI also helps develop students' people and communication skills in order to be able to ask the right questions and promote themselves effectively. According to Anuschka Bennet, a current SciMathUS student interested in Architecture and Civil Engineering, going through the SGEI has given her a sense of confidence, encouragement and fulfilment.
“The SciMathUS programme is definitely an enriching environment for people who are keen on developing their academic and critical thinking skills. I have developed an immense sense of diligence in SciMathUS, the programme has really helped me open up my mind to the unending opportunities there are in tertiary studies and showing me many different career fields," says Bennet.
The SGEI offers various workshops, coaching sessions, assessments, group interventions and conversations, to provide SciMathUS students with enough information to make informed decisions about their choice of career.
For more information on the SGEI and the SciMathUS programme, contact Dr Elza Lourens at 021 808 2608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: SciMathUS students visit a Radiologist.