SLICE: Leaving with lessons learned

I HAVE always been one to get into trouble before I learned a lesson. Nothing ever quite stuck if it wasn’t my own lived experience. In learning to grow up, however, I have realised that things must be done differently.

I flunked my first year of varsity because I didn’t like what I was doing. This pushed me to do better the following year and to make sure I put into my studies all the work and effort I hadn’t done the year before. It was difficult having to prove to myself that I wouldn’t fall into my own traps in the same space, and this year has been somewhat similar to my second try at first-year varsity.

I am lucky to still be able, as a Wits Vuvuzela student-turned-intern, to practice the skills I learned in the same newsroom. My training wheels are falling off and being handed to the baby journalists who are still to find their feet in a newsroom. Having had a rocky ride of a year in 2018, I have used my mistakes to not only learn and ensure I don’t fall into bad old ways, but to reassure aspiring journalists that, somehow, you make it out alive.

I am not suggesting in any way that I have it all figured out, but after treading water at the deep end for what felt like the longest year, I can definitely say I have learned a few lessons that will make my transition to the working world a little easier.

University can be a great space to learn about yourself through fun and failure, but remember that you are there preparing for life in the working world. So let every lesson you learn be used not only to do better yourself, but to teach youself professionalism and a sound work ethic.

I found it difficult to adjust to the realness of the Wits Vuvuzela newsroom last year. I went in expecting to learn through reading, but I was in for a surprise. I did not take well to my expectations not being met, and this reflected in my work ethic and lack of motivation, even when I had plenty of potential.

Knowing better has pushed me to do better, but I couldn’t have done that without my team. Being a student is based on independence, as far as your own progress goes. While employment results in one being financially independent for the most part, being on the job, on the other hand, requires you to be dependent on your colleagues and to answer to someone, as you become their responsibility.

I am not much of a talker: This is ironic, seeing that 99.9% of journalism requires you to engage people – but I have learned that team work makes the dream work, and an important part of that is communication. I went through my undergraduate degree with minimal to no group work. One of my greatest lessons has been learning that a work space cannot function without team work.

Graduating to the world of work does not mean that learning has come to an end. My training wheels have come in handy here. Watching the new class of student journalists learn the principles and ethics of journalism has made me interested in growing my own knowledge of the industry and engaging it from a different angle – more so, now that I pay tax (don’t grow up, it’s a trap).
Continuing to learn for yourself is an important part of growth.

And don’t ignore the importance of the big fish, time! Time is always to be valued, whether it is yours or that of other people.Time and communication are basically co-dependent. They are teammates; they make the dream work. I urge you to master these things before the heat on you is turned up. Getting into trouble to learn a lesson is not cute folks, and there is no time for that in the working world: errors can be costly.

I may not be ready to dive into the big world of work but I have stayed afloat in the deep ends of the swimming pools that I have been thrown into; so I think it’s safe to say that it might be time for me to swim in oceans (lifeguards, stand by).