May 20, 2007

The Party

I arrive at half-past-five at the Graduate School Offices. I am carrying my usual book-case. I am dressed in a white shirt and a black trouser. I am putting on my usual spectacles that add an academic posture. Not many of my colleagues have arrived. I see Bruce, Dr. Minors, and Roy. Roy is carrying assessment forms. He wants to find the blogger-of-the-year. I and Bruce begin to fill the grid with which Roy seeks to select the best one or two bloggers of the year. It was one of the grids that he used during the internship training course. I have forgotten how it works. He takes his time to remind us. The top five bloggers are Temitope, Susan Arthur, Ijeoma, Adam, and Maxwell.

The place begins to breathe life. People are beginning to tickle in. I can see Wanjiku and her friend. Two of my friends arrive. Oh I get a call from my friend who comes from Sandton. As I rush to meet her at the Origins Centre, I meet Jean by the Graduate School entrance. I greet her. I tell her that I am going to fetch one of my friends by the car park. She urges me to rush because the party is about to start! My friend has not yet arrived at the car park. When I am about to leave the park, she phones me that she is about to arrive. She tells me that she can find the Wits Seminar Room (the venue for the party) by herself. I am relieved!
My friend arrives from Sandton. She works for the African Leadership Academy. She brought a gift for me. I am so happy.
All the internship graduands have arrived save for Susan Wangi. The place is now alive. The party has begun!
Chairs have been arranged for the guests, the internship patrons, and the internship graduates. The atmosphere is ballistic. Joy is throbbing in the air. The party has begun.

Dr. Susan van Zyl officially opens the party by making a speech of a profound sort. She relates to the importance of internship and outlines why the World of Work Internship Programme at Wits is one of its kind. She introduces Jean, Roy, Lesley, Wanjiku, and Elspeth. Roy captures attention by his gyrating hands. He is such interesting today!
She turns to us and says-“This has been the most interesting group of interns I have ever met in this programme. I am proud of them.” I say to my heart-“We are also proud of you Sue.”
As she finishes introducing the guest speaker, Professor Lovemore Mbigi, she gets a standing ovation.
Mbigi was one of the keynote speakers during the internship training course. He begins by saying: “Many people are prisoners of disciplines.” As he repeats this, people are already shaken to the edges of their seats. Mbigi bursts in a metallic laughter. “Yes, he continues, “I have two degrees in business economics but… I do not know what to do with them.” He says “Thank you” at the end of his speech. Mbigi. What an interesting Professor.

Now is the time to announce the intern of the year. Lesley takes the stage. She begins by outlining the criteria that was used for selecting the top intern. “The top intern of the year is Ijeoma Uche-Okeke” , Lesley announces. Well done Ijeoma!

Now is the time to announce the-blogger-of-the-year. Here comes Roy. He climbs atop the tables, greets everyone and makes an explanation as to what blogging is all about. He begins peeling down papers of the envelop in a dramatic way. “The two bloggers of the year are Susan Aurthur and Ijeoma!”, he announces. Well done Ijeoma and Susan!
Certificates are handed to all of us. Jean and Lesley also bought us small bags! Thank you so much Jean and Lesley. We are proud of you.

As the party matures, dancing and eating begins. Cameras flash in all directions. Partying has begun. I am dancing with two of my friends and suddenly one of my classmates joins us. I leave them to join Temi, and company. They are being led by Adam in a very interesting dance. You turn your head to the right, to the left and then stretch your neck. You turn your head to the left, to the right and then stretch your neck! “Left-right and stretch”, says Adam. You repeat the same thing until you sweat! Adam is a good dancer.

As the lights turn off, I have sweated, I am tired and happy.
This has been the most enthralling conclusion to the World of Work Internship Programme. But the journey begins. Am I going to get an internship? This question creates a lot of anxiety for me. I am positive that I will get one because I have done the best for myself. I am in the safe hands of Lesley and Jean; I am part of a dynamic group of my colleagues in the internship programme, and I have branded myself in the most strategic way.
This world is good because it never lets down those who work hard. I am one of those who are prepared to expend the last kilo joule to attain the good.

May 9, 2007

Time management

Who has ever seen people hurrying clumsily to the point of bumping on every one on the way? Who has ever seen a company boss rushing out of his car clutching a briefcase on one hand, and a jacket on the other? Who has ever seen a university student sweating on the edge of the chair trying to calm down because s/he has to start writing the examination for which s/he is late? I have seen all such people at the worst scenarios of their existence, that is, having run out of time!!
Time is a precious commodity. I used to think that time is a finite resource because it is not manufactured anywhere; nobody can ever exhaust hours, days or months because they naturally reproduce themselves! But we always race after time. Why? Time is a "finite-infinite" resource.
Time management has become a buzzword in modern existence. People have to manage their time in order to get things done. If you do not manage time properly you will always find yourself racing in a competition that you will never win! In the modern world, a human being has to perform a multiplicity of tasks within a limited time-frame of his existence. The secret to achieving one’s aspirations begins with managing one’s time. Time is money, as a popular cliché goes.
The concept of managing time has become salient in business life in which company patrons have to make strategies, and implement them within a short space of time in order to retain their competitive edge.

May 4, 2007

The key to transition

A transition from the classroom to the work place is difficult. Most people often think of this transition in terms of getting a job. During his presentation on the ways to achieve prosperity in life, Professor Lovemore Mbigi argued that this is a flawed conception of change. “Don’t look for a job, look for a problem to solve, the bigger your problem, the bigger is the reward. The companies have already an answer to you as a job-searcher-No!” For many of us, this was unnerving. We all look forward to being employed so as to gain experience, to learn how things are done beyond the classroom, and to improve our wellbeing. However, we had not viewed the job-search process in the perspective that Mbigi has suggested. I think there is some validity in what he is saying. Mbigi suggests that there are very few companies that are willing to employ people who have not defined what they will solve. Thus, if in any case one is invited to an interview, the whole issue is an attempt, by whoever has invited you, to find reasons not to hire you! It is your obligation to prove that you are worth the very job for which you have applied during that interview. This is a powerful revelation, I think.

Going back to Mbigi’s concept of identifying a problem to solve, you need to make a compelling sales proposition around your solution. The next step is to develop this solution into a product or production. Otherwise, Mbigi suggests, it is not enough to have a solution. The question is how you create a problem for which you will have a solution or solutions? And how you communicate your solution to the problem of your own creation! This sounds tricky.

You will realise that this world is replete with problems-economic, social and political problems. So the issue is not for you to create more of these but to identify them and suggest ways of dealing with them. One of the problems faced by South Africa is the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I have suggested in one of my blog-posts that there is need to deal with stigma as one of the national interventions against the disease. This is one of my “solutions” to this problem. I am proposing this through my profile in my blogspot. In this blogspot, I have turned myself into a product because it is where I have expressed my selling points, that is, my ability to think out of the box, my ability to lead and work in a team, my research and writing skills, and my ability to formulate policies towards employment creation and poverty reduction in South Africa.