The tables were turned recently when jobs came looking for Wits students.

Two events were held in Senate House – one for IT and Engineering students, the other organised by the Chem Society. A number of companies came to Wits to increase brand awareness and encourage students to apply for winter internships.

Former Witsie Hazel Bomba, a chemistry graduate and 2010 Chem Society chairperson, attended the event as a representative for her company. She said students should start thinking about securing employment while studying, to avoid panicking when they eventually completed their studies and found themselves jobless.

“I actually got my job because of career day. I was helping the guy who is now my boss with logistics for a career day and he asked me to send my CV and I got a job!” Bomba now conducts research into mining explosives for AEL Mining Services.

Bomba advised Witsies not to be satisfied with just their undergraduate qualifications. “A postgraduate degree gets you ahead faster. When there is a career guidance fair, take pamphlets and get in touch with the companies; volunteer even.  Jobs don’t come knocking on your door. Well, mine did, but that doesn’t happen every day.”

Chairperson of the Chem Society, honours student Amy Rudenberg said most students thought chemistry was all about research because they did not know about other career options.

This was the reason the Chem Society decided to take their future into their own hands by inviting potential employers. She said the fair also linked Witsies with potential bursary sponsors and vacation jobs.

Joe Welte, Corporate Quality Manager at Nestlé, encouraged students to take advantage of graduate trainee programmes offered by companies, adding that his company ensured trainees got exposure to the entire business by rotating them between different divisions of the company.

“Companies want experienced people, but students need to start somewhere, which is where graduate trainee programmes come in.”

Rudenberg said she was thrilled the fair was a success and had benefited students from other faculties as well. Some companies said they welcomed applications from science, human resources, law, and engineering.

Rudenberg said the Chem Society also organised colloquia for post-graduate chemistry students to talk about their research topics, and offered an award for the best research. The Chem Society is student-run and has been in existence for several years. After a few dormant years, it was resuscitated in 2010.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela, 12th edition, 2nd May 2012.