The Student Support Services (SSS) team in the College of Health Sciences (CHS) held an Exit Orientation and Graduate Recruitment webinar in collaboration with the UKZN Foundation and a corporate partner, PPS Foundation.
The PPS Foundation is involved with various social investment programmes and initiatives intended to support the growth and development of the respective professional pipeline.
With StatsSA reporting an annual increase in youth unemployment figures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was apt that the webinar’s theme this year focused on beyond the graduation and community service years, examining: From University to the World of Work: Preparing our Graduates for the 21st Century.
The webinar recognised the importance of the first step a graduating student takes as they transition into the workplace and provided invaluable information about the expectations of the marketplace, professional and personal insights and practical strategies to maximise the transition.
The Manager of SSS, Dr Saloschini Pillay, opened proceedings by sharing various insights on the current world of work and celebrated the students’ journey as they complete their degrees and begin their transition. Pillay reflected on the transitions experienced during studies, including dealing with issues caused by the pandemic, joining the frontline workers in their clinical practices, and the impact of the lockdown on students’ personal and mental health and well-being. She noted the importance of having the necessary skills, knowledge and insights and an appropriate attitude to transition into their new role and function as health care practitioners. Pillay reminded the students to focus on managing health and wellness, particularly mental health.
PPS Business Manager for the Durban Branch Ms Yatisha Babulal and members of her team hosted the Beyond Your Graduation session. Ms Jocelyn Manda gave insights from her position as the PPS Fiduciary specialist, sharing information on ‘making your money work for you in your business’, the legal aspects of wills and tips, and good advice to consider when setting up funds for retirement.
Mr Samkelo Magoqo of the PPS Foundation spoke on money management practices, and making money work for a person beyond their community services years.
A recording of a presentation on Ethics and Professional Practice by Professor Shenuka Singh was well received by the students. Singh identified six key ethical considerations in the daily duties of a health care practitioner, naming them as respect for people, recognition of human rights, patient autonomy, integrity, justice and professional competence. ‘These ethical values and standards are key core practices one should continuously strive to embody daily as they offer the foundation for character and practice to remain a responsible health care provider, filled with truthfulness, tolerance, confidentiality and fairness,’ said Singh.
Mr Nqobizwe Mahlangu spoke on the importance of Social Entrepreneurship, planting the seed for social change and community practice, with stories about students in communities making a difference that is not only sustainable but also affordable while adding to the quality of life of community members they serve. He encouraged students to alleviate the challenges communities face using African-based solutions creatively.
Student Support Services presenters and special student guests joined in for the second part of the programme. Student counsellor Ms Kristy Greener spoke on managing mental health in the workplace, focusing on stress and self-care, while colleague Ms Nandisile Ntshangase examined managing transition and remaining emotionally resilient in the next phase of a young adult’s life journey. Both presentations shared hope and encouragement that with planning and effective coping strategies, an individual will be more prepared for the transitions graduands encounter.
Master’s degree student in Sports Science Ms Bongiwe Gumede presented on Fitting in Fitness, explaining that when a person starts a job, their routines change which may impact their ability to adjust and transition effectively, hence exercise and leisure are strategies that aid in maintaining a balance in life, as they reduce stress, and help develop a disciplined lifestyle.
It was an interactive event with many students sharing their hopes, expectations, concerns and worries about starting work. Their fears included the risk of burnout and the need to set healthy work boundaries.
Words: Saloschini Pillay and Suzanne Stokes