Siona o'Connell

Current Job: 
Lecturer at the Michaelis School of Fine Art (UCT).

How I obtained my current position:

I applied for a permanent post at Michaelis in 2013. Prior to that I was employed at the Centre for Curating the Archive at UCT.

How my qualifications relate to my work:

It is fundamental to my work as a lecturer as well as a researcher.

Skills that have contributed to my success:

Tenacity, hard work, building up relationships beyond UCT, and having clear and achievable goals.

Day-to-day activities:

I lecture to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. I head the UCT segment of an international project in research. I also head the photographic unit as a senior researcher at the Centre for Curating the Archive.

Best & most challenging parts of my job:

I enjoy teaching! I believe that every student who is accepted to UCT deserves to flourish, and I use my life experiences and the lessons learnt as a scholar to make the classroom experience a shared and energetic space of learning. Most challenging is that there arts too few hours in the day.

Involvement at UCT:

As a mature student, I worked largely beyond UCT, forging relationships with consulates, community organisations etc.

Gaining a competitive edge while at UCT:

Network! Get your hands dirty by stretching your capabilities; learn to trade; and get involved in projects and activities beyond your coursework that will allow you to build a formidable CV.

Advice for graduates entering the world of work:

From the very first week of 1st year, visualise what it is you want to achieve and how you plan on getting there. At my undergraduate degree graduation ceremony, I saw the elite group of doctoral scholars in their red gowns and I made a promise that I was going to get mine, no matter what. Having that visual image was crucial in completing my postgraduate work and it underscored the belief that we are all capable of extraordinary things.