Self-doubt and lack of advice in high school limits your career options

By Siyabonga Motha

Being in high school and doing matric was exciting for me, but growing up at Elukwatini, a small town in Mpumalanga was challenging, especially when it comes to having access to information regarding career choices. There were no clear guidelines and assistance regarding choosing subjects in grade 10.

My subjects then were Mathematics Literacy, History, Life Sciences and Geography. I didn’t do Mathematics and Physical Science because I had the perception that it was too difficult and it was for smart people. My perception was incorrect and only now do I realise that it was self-doubt that made me not to select Physical Science. It is essential to remember that you are very capable to do whatever subjects and whichever degree that you want, as long as you set your mind to it and work hard .

Self-doubt and lack of advice in subjects’ selection in high school may later limit your career options or choices. It is important for learners to be introduced to career choices by their parents and teachers as soon they are in grade 7 or 8. Schools need to clearly explain to learners what each subject is about and the possible degrees or career that a leaner may pursue after matric.

Fortunately, I knew that I wanted to pursue my career in law, however, I had limited information about law, I could not differentiate between legal paralegals, advocates, attorneys, type of universities, bursaries and even NSFAS neither did I know how and where to start to apply for universities and bursaries.

I matriculated in 2010, however, as the results of the lack of information regarding careers options for someone who did History at school, I enrolled for legal paralegal in 2011, at Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, assuming that I was doing a laws degree (LLB). After some research on the course, I de-registered and went back home to restart with universities applications again. It was not easy to be back home. I felt like a failure and left behind by my peers, however, I was passionate about law and I knew exactly what I wanted. I applied at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Pretoria, both universities accepted me.

Getting space and to enroll for what you really want at universities might be difficult sometimes, but I would not advise a learner to choose a career that they know for a fact they do not like because of pressure. Learners should try not to be influenced by friends in high school when it comes to choosing a field of study. Choose what you like or what you believe you are passionate about. Hence you should not choose a career overnight, rather have second or third choices.

In 2012 I enrolled at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg for a law degree (LLB). The thought of becoming a lawyer made me to work harder and I completed the degree in record time (after 4 years) with distinctions. Before applying to a university or a college and enrolling for a degree or diploma in a certain facility, it is important to try to understand the number of years required to complete the degree as well as what you will be doing in those years and after you have started working in that field.

In 2016 I joined Webber Wentzel as a candidate attorney where I was introduced to various law departments (such as, Corporate, Banking and Finance, Competition, Financial Regulatory, Litigation, Project Finance and Public Law). The first few months I struggled to fit in the corporate world, but with determination and good training, I managed to find my feet.

In school we learn about everything that is in the syllabus in respect of each of the subjects, however, that is not enough to prepare a young adult for life after high school. Parents and teachers need to work together in order to equip learners with other basic life skills (social skills) such as, being independent (which is required at university and at the work place), self – esteem, confidence, financial management, preparing a curriculum vitae, how to dress professionally and to expose learners to various work places.

After two years at Webber Wentzel I joined the mergers and acquisitions (corporate private equity) division and I love it. I am now an admitted attorney and I practice in one of the best law firm in the country. With determination anything is possible and can be accomplished.

Siyabonga Motha is Associate at Webber Wentzel..www.webberwentzel.com


Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity. Nyakaza Media Solutions has a vision to promote and bring dialogue to communities, businesses and schools about issues that affect them. Nyakaza Media Solutions is on a mission to develop and encourage communities, businesses and learners to celebrate the good, applaud excellence, welcome growth, strive to be better individuals, businesses and communities, want more knowledge, discourage bad and counter-productive behaviour as well as communities, businesses and learners that want to be great SOUTH AFRICANS. Nyakaza Media Solutions is making use of Yo School Magazine as a platform that learners in all schools to make use of to write their stories.

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