Tsepo Ngwenyama

Current Job: 
Graduate Intern – Marketing and Communications (MTN Solution Space)

Previous job:
Full-time student; also Managing Editor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) student newspaper, Varsity

What does your job entail?
As a marketing intern, I’m responsible for ensuring that what we do at Solution Space is clearly transmitted/communicated to the start-up community, as well as our partners and funders. My role also entails content development, social-media management, advertising, bulk mailing, database management and reporting, and events implementation. How did you obtain your current position? I used to spend a lot of time on the UCT MyCareer website – I practically lived there from December 2016 until February 2017. As a result, I saw the advertisement for my current position on the website and I applied for it.

What particular skills are required in your career?

  •  Strong communication skills, both verbal and written;
  • Creativity and innovation;
  •  Problem-solving and analytical thinking;
  •  Leadership skills;
  •  Computer proficiency covering various social media, database management systems, and Microsoft;
  •  Strong organisational skills and an excellent work ethic; and
  •  Proactivity.

In what way does your qualification relate to your work, whether directly or indirectly?
I’ve learnt a number of things from my English and Sociology majors: both helped me to harness my critical-thinking skills; English taught me a lot about how to creatively communicate ideas and also how to bring life to those ideas through words; and Sociology gave me a ‘third eye’, a pragmatic yet human approach to problem-solving. A great deal of what we do at Solution Space is to provide a platform for entrepreneurs from different backgrounds to not only develop their businesses, but also develop themselves as business owners. Furthermore, my sociology background helps me assist my team to develop solutions that address structural issues affecting entrepreneurs coming from township or impoverished backgrounds.

What are your day-to-day activities?
Every day is different. Much depends on what’s happening at Solution Space. Most days are spent making sure I meet deadlines. However, when I get to the office each morning, I read and respond to emails, and I check all our social-media platforms, replying to ‘mentions’ and direct messages if there are any. I also spend a lot of time online reading up on the latest in entrepreneurship in Africa and the world, as well as about tech innovation.

What are the best and most challenging things about your job?
The best part about my job is the learning. I get to learn so much from really talented people – and I get paid for it! I enjoy connecting with entrepreneurs who are still on the way up and with people who’ve been ‘in the game’ for a while and are doing really well. The challenging things about my job? It’s a fast-paced space – really fast – and everyone gives one hundred percent and is always at the top of their game. My team works really hard to create ‘the magic’ that happens at Solution Space.

What other student- or community-based activities did you participate in during your studies?
I was involved in a lot of student-based activities on campus that I liked. But my liking for such activities was more of a desire to take my learning outside the lecture rooms. So I was part of the Student Orientation and Advocacy Centre (SOAC) as an orientation leader and a trainer and the Humanities Mentorship Programme as a mentor. I was also a res tutor, a subwarden, and a staff writer at Varsity before becoming Managing Editor.

To what extent did you make use of the Careers Service while you were at university?
I used the Careers Service quite a lot. When I applied for my first job, I went to the Careers Service for help with my CV, covering letter and interview preparation. I also visited the office whenever I had to submit a major job application. In the case of my current position, for instance, I visited the centre to obtain assistance with my application. I have also spent a lot of time on the website looking for opportunities.

What advice would you give to students wanting to do what you do?

  • Understand the space you want to get into, and understand the culture of, and the trends within, the industry.
  • Be on the lookout for learning opportunities at all times.
  • Get involved in a wide range of student-based activities and societies, keep an open mind, and don’t focus solely on activities that seem directly related to marketing or advertising.
  • Don’t focus on the specific role/position but rather on the skills and lessons to be gained – that is what is of real value, not the title or position.

In retrospect, what advice can you give to students about how to approach their own career-development journeys?
I believe that what’s of most importance is skills sets, as well as being able to articulate how they help you add value.

What degree options are recommended for this sector?
A bachelor degree in marketing, digital marketing, public relations, communications, or brand communication.

How best should students use their time at university to give themselves a competitive edge in your field?
No matter what the field, know yourself – be self-aware. Get involved in activities that harness leadership skills, and encourage personal development – in terms of both skills and character. Understand what your personal strengths and weaknesses are, and the best way to do that is to sign up for activities that push you outside your comfort zone. To give yourself a competitive edge in any industry or field:

  • Understand your field, that is, its culture, values, stakeholders, current and future trends, etc.
  • Be able to articulate how you and your skills set and degree can add value to the organisation. This is key! One needs to understand how what has been learnt, for instance from their time as SRC president, can be of value to the organisation in the position they are applying for.
  • Understand the skill sets you have and how these fit into the role/position you want.
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses. • Be versatile and open to learning and unlearning things!