Danielle Radloff never intended to follow “a career in careers", but her deep understanding of the global work context means that she is well-placed to help students and alumni of Stellenbosch University (SU) achieve their career goals.
As we kicked off May commemorating Workers' Day, we dedicate this series of articles to our staff and their important contribution to SU. In the interview below, Radloff tells us more about her work.
Explain your role at SU?
My official title is Senior Career Officer. A better description would be a career resource advisor, as I help students and alumni at the Stellenbosch Business School to achieve their career goals.
What does a typical day at work look like?
A role in career services varies from one day to the next. Most days it feels like you're running your own small business, covering everything from operations to marketing, finance, and even service design. This is what keeps the job interesting.
The Career Leadership Manager, who operates as the Business School's designated career coach and expert in career development, leads my team. The Senior Career Officer undertakes every other service aspect, paying particular attention to employer relations and service design, which includes management of the digital platforms in our ecosystem.
Essentially most of us who work in career services are creative solutions designers, and I start off every day by asking myself the same question: “What can I do today to make it simpler for someone to achieve their career goals?" I typically dedicate certain days to key activities, like hosting Career Discovery conversations, where I learn about inspiring career goals and life journeys. I am privileged to discuss strategies for achieving those goals with the resources we make available.
How did your education or past experiences prepare you for this role?
As a graduate in international relations and business management you get to utilise your analytical skills to understand the global work context and how various socio-economic and political landscapes might impact the career prospects of talent situated across the globe. Staff working at a world-class institution like the Stellenbosch Business School, which engages talent and business partners globally, are required to stay abreast of key developments in business and society to form mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships.
During my undergraduate studies I threw myself into student leadership positions, participating in and facilitating critical conversations among students. This experience laid a foundation for handling tough moments in the transformative landscape we find ourselves in today and helped me to understand other people's perspectives. I would encourage any student (whether undergraduate or postgraduate) to become student leaders or ambassadors in their environment. The Frederik van Zyl Slabbert Institute was a key partner in my development journey as an undergraduate.
What do you enjoy most about your role and working at SU?
Being able to tap into a diverse network of people as colleagues is the best part of working at SU. I'd encourage every staff member to be creative and seize opportunities to collaborate and engage with one another across functions, and even across the world at other institutions.
Working at SU can also be difficult at times, but I do appreciate being part of an organisation that encourages open and continued dialogue on critical themes such as transformation, diversity, and social impact. These issues affect people deeply on a day-to-day basis and to be able to engage on these topics in the workplace, we slowly develop our capacity to deal with them openly and head-on.
Tell us something exciting or interesting about yourself that few people would expect?
I didn't plan for a “career in careers", nor a career at a university, but I eventually found meaning in the job by matching my values with the institution's purpose and being clear about the value of my role in the bigger picture.