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Lessons in finding my passion and watching it grow

From Graduating with a BA in Politics and Philosophy to working in insurance and joining a social branding agency – this is how I became teachable enough to enter new industries without the relevant experience.

Rewarding, challenging, and exciting are a few words that come to mind while reflecting on my first year of work anniversary at The Social Craft. I have grown and matured - personally and professionally - beyond what I could have imagined. I started a new job, transitioned into a new industry, and moved into a new city. It has been a year of learning and unlearning to be stretched, nurtured, and grown into somebody prepared to build the future I imagine for myself. While it hasn’t always been easy, I wouldn’t change a thing.

My career journey began when I was 18 years old. Despite my parents' modest background, they made sure we attended the best schools, had the best opportunities, and enjoyed a head start that they never enjoyed. To avoid burdening them with frivolous requests, I got a holiday sales temp job at Musica after matriculating. When I received my first pay check, I was so proud of myself. It was the hardest work I had ever done. I have been working ever since - in one way or another.

I attended Wits University on a bursary to study a BCom PPE (Politics, Philosophy, and Economics). My dream was to become the first female president of South Africa or at the very least, a member of parliament. Simultaneously, I worked as a Brand Ambassador at South Point Management Properties (the private accommodation residence I boarded at). In my second year, I was promoted to Co-Head Brand Ambassador and then a Resident Assistant in my final year. I failed that year and the following year I decided to take a short break from working to focus solely on my studies.

It was hard for me to ask for help during this period because I had been self-sufficient for so long.

Through the support of my family and friends, I finally got back on my feet but, I failed again that year. This was when I knew that I had to sit myself down and figure out if I wanted to pursue my degree. I loved languages and storytelling but, I felt stuck and compelled to study a certain thing and embark on a set career path. The university provided me with career and guidance counsellors that helped me reshape my degree and thus, the trajectory of my entire professional career.

Graduating from the University of the Witwatersand with a BA in Politics and Philosophy

I graduated with a BA in Politics and Philosophy with a minor in Economics, but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do yet. My first post-university job was as a Claims Department intern at Prime Meridian Direct. Insurance felt like a safe bet for me while I was still trying to figure out who I wanted to be. In less than 3 months at the job, I got offered a permanent position as an Evidence Gathering Professional. My role was ambiguous because my manager at the time saw something in me and believed in me enough to request that they create the position just for me. I rose to the challenge, and I worked my butt off.

In less than a year, I was already performing at a supervisor level, leading client meetings, and our small team. By the end of the year, I was the Top Performing Employee in my department. My work ethic made me an invaluable member of the team and, to a certain extent, an asset to the company. But, at the end of each day, I found myself unfulfilled, still searching for who I was.

The Social Craft & Turn Left Media Year End Function 2021. With Petunia Sibuyi and Samantha Coom.

When I joined The Social Craft in November 2021, I didn’t have any marketing qualifications or formal social media experience. I figured it was social media and I use it every day so, “it’ll be a walk in the park until I figure out what I want do”. Boy, was I wrong! I originally applied for the Campaign Manager role but Glenda, our Head of Operations who was hiring at the time, reached out to me and informed me that they had another position that I would be better suited for, and I could interview for both roles. The rest is history.

My role involves creativity, impeccable attention to detail, excellent written and oral communication and so much more! I help develop, execute, and monitor marketing initiatives for our internal brand. I also assist in a lot of the research that goes into the amazing campaigns we deliver for our clients. Every good campaign starts with a solid research foundation and behind every great social media post, is someone who spends hours and hours sifting through information and formulating insights from it.

This role requires that I wear many different hats. I do market research, analyse trends to help define the said marketing strategy, and provide advice as to how to best reach the target market. I also help with the coordination of project management and internal workflows, events, training and so much more!

Looking back, being teachable enough to adapt to any industry was essential for my success. These are the lessons that made my story one of learning and transformation.

5 habits to adopt if you are after personal and professional growth:

Embrace learning

Failing doesn’t hold you back, it teaches you resilience and how to improve next time. Use every opportunity to expand your mind and abilities to discover how far they can take you. If you adopt this mindset, you’ll always be open to growth.

Ask for help

There’s no shame in asking for help when you don’t know something. Often, people will make the time to help or teach you. Keeping quiet will only frustrate you further. Just ask.

Be honest about what you don’t know

That way you don’t set high expectations for something you lack in. Be transparent and make the effort to improve on the things that you are not good at. Equally, make the effort to improve what you’re already good at – there’s always room for improvement.

Speak up

Share your frustrations with your supervisor or manager. They’ve been where you are so, chances are they can help you manage professional and personal challenges.

Be you

Show up authentically as your true self. You can’t have a separate work and after-work personality. It will wear you out. Be professional at all times, of course, but always show up as your authentic self.

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