Thursday, 17 January 2019

31. Becoming employable

Some of the Co-opt students in the skills development programme at the office. Had so much fun with them. Missing them already before they are even gone back to varsity! Lol! 

Becoming employable as a recent graduate is a challenge that is faced even today. It's understandable, because for many of us who study through tertiary (i.e university/ colleges), we may have been exposed to the studying of the theory of the career, and not so much the practical part of it.

The challenge with being employable as a graduate stems from the fact that the work place requires more than just knowledge. In fact, the work place needs us to apply the knowledge we have. It needs us to bring solutions using the knowledge we have. More importantly, it needs people who will be efficient in the work they do.

If a company was to choose between an individual with only a qualification and an individual that has vast years of experience in the field of work that both individuals are applying for, the company would most likely take in the one with the experience. Why is that? It's because the individual is competent to perform well in the company, helping it to either stay performing well or progressing even more.

What I have discovered is that there is a solution to this issue. There are steps that you as a graduate or unemployable student can take. It is a matter of finding out.

Where I am currently completing my traineeship, there is a skills development programme that assists all current, even graduated students. Students are given exposure to everything accounting-related. More-so, they are given an opportunity to learn basic soft skills such as answering the phone, sending emails to clients and following up, under supervision of senior staff.

The purpose of this skills development programme is exactly what it is: to help students develop skills. Such programmes are provided by training offices and other organisations. It is ideal for any student to find one, be it in the field of work you wish to be in, or simply to acquire skills.

Some students may not even know which career path they want to follow. It wouldn't hurt to take advantage of any skills development programme in whatever field. Regardless of whether or not you will like the field, at least there is a skill/(s) that you will have acquired that may help you complete certain jobs that may open doors to other opportunities! There is a big difference between being unemployable with no skills and being unemployed with skills.

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Until the next blogpost. 😃

Thursday, 16 August 2018

30. Humble beginnings - working environment

I must say - when I started my training as a trainee accountant, I was frustrated at the "lame tasks" (according to me) I was getting at the time. I wanted the real deal. I wanted accountant-related stuff. And I was so wrong! 🙈

You know how people emphasize on the basics? I'm familiar with that term from university. The basics are the foundation, and foundation is the most important part of anything that anyone wants to excel in.

Let me fill you in on the basics I'm talking about. These basics are things I didn't think were so important (in addition to other minor accountant-related work I had been doing):

So glad that my colleague agreed to be featured on the blog! Yas! 😜

1. Every morning, I make filter-coffee for the boss: 
I have never made filter-coffee. I don't even drink coffee! You can imagine how clueless I was in putting the right amount of coffee. I had to taste it, so that I make sure it is something I would drink. I realised that this is the kind of attitude that gets one further in life: ensuring that you do an excellent job irrespective of how basic or lame it may seem. It's about being trusted for the job and doing it well no matter how big or small it is.

There were times when I thought it was unfair and just crazy to be making coffee when I should be doing "accountant" work. I had to make coffee for clients too, who come in for meetings (I still do😂🙈 ).

I ended up appreciating the fact that I can finally make filter-coffee and that I can be humble - treat others as I would like to be treated if I were in their shoes: making sure the coffee is hot enough, cups not wet outside, all necessary goods and cups served using a tray, etc.

Such an attitude is the kind that can open a door for you to be trusted for more and bigger tasks. Our willingness to do anything and how well we do it can take us far.

2. Preparing printing paper

In the spirit of saving paper, there is a rule/policy in the office that any work we need printed for our use (be it for filing or use for our personal tasks) must be printed on scrap paper, i.e paper that already has a printout on the one side. We'd have to use the unused side of the paper.

Now, the duty to prepare these papers has been passed on to me. I have to remove staples from stapled paper, make sure that the right side of the paper is placed on the printer. I had to make sure we never run out of scrap paper - that no one prints only to find that there is no paper on the printer. You can imagine how in trouble I would be if the printer got broken because of paper with staples that went through it, or if someone prints only to find there's no paper on the printer, or if someone printed on the side that already has a printout. Again, this boils down to ensuring that I am excellent on the tasks: make sure there are no mistakes, just like I would want it to be if it were my own company. I would not want unnecessary delays either.

3. Preparing job applications

One of the many other tasks I have is to apply for the boss to be in boards of certain organizations. After a while that I had been given this task, I got to a point where I started saying I want more accounting-related work. Remember, I'm training to be a professional accountant, and my limited knowledge of what that means is that I must only deal with numbers and accounting standards, not job applications.

Now, here's the fascinating thing: the ability to complete and forward these kinds of applications is one of the competencies expected from a professional accountant. It's not just about completing applications. I also have to prepare them for postal: make sure the correct address is written on the envelop, make sure it is addressed to the correct person, make sure all the suporting documents are included. The same goes for emailing applications: the way I communicate to the receiver, making sure that the correct documents are attached, making sure that the email address to which email is being sent is actually correct! All of that may seem simple but is very important, and we can't afford to be making silly mistakes.

 More-so, there is a lot more knowledge gained in these applications, information that professional accountants need to know for the general execution of their job as professional accountants.

Now, I'm even more appreciative and very much fortunate to have this job. Not so long ago, the boss even acknowledged my gift of writing and customizing the motivation to the job applications. This is actually the expertise that I had planned to use in the services I provide through Mpilo Publishing (Pty) Ltd: assisting those that apply for jobs with letters of motivation and customising their Curriculum Vitae to the applications.

P.S: you can check out the Facebook page for more information about the services I provide through Mpilo right here.

4. Answering the phone 

This is one the the tasks I had undermined for a while, until a colleague mentioned that I must speak clearly and louder, no mono-tone. That may not have moved me, but when he stressed the point about losing clients - uh-oh!

We could have bad days and let that get to us: that mono-tone, unfriendly and soft voice won't be a surprise.

It may seem lame as a task, but it's important, especially if it's that simple task that can make us lose clients. It doesn't even end there: when a call is made, it's important to know who is calling and for what, so that you can pass on the correct message to the relevant person. I have to remember how to accept the call, too (because it's not just pressing the receive button) and I must also know how to transfer a call to another phone.

I could go on forever about more small tasks I do, but one thing I want to stress is the fact that I wasn't able to do all these tasks before, let alone excel in them, but now I can. I acquired skills and abilities that I didn't have.

Once I mastered/got enough experience in the tasks and could be trusted with them, I see now that I have been taken to another level and given an opportunity to master other tasks - more of them being accountant-related.

In a nutshell, I learnt this: don't take anything you learn in the working environment for granted. You acquire skills you didn't have. They may be "lame" but they are the basic tasks that are important in the working world, and not being able to do the basics in the working world is not a good impression to the employer. The basics are needed for us to be able to survive/work in such an environment, in fact to be able to survive in this world!.

I certainly hope you enjoyed that - that it shed some light and helped to see things differently when it comes to the working environment.

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Until the next blogpost :)

Friday, 18 May 2018

29. Money

Oh yes, let us talk about money today.

Money - one of the reasons why we study to get that qualification; that drives us to work; that gets us so passionate about holding those big positions that the world has already taught us are high-paying positions.

The fuss about money is understandable. I mean we need money to live in this world, right? We need to be able to afford to live. We need to be able to buy food, clothes, afford a house to live in, afford a car that will take us where we need to get to and back any time (more especially when public transport disappoints us at times). We just want to be able to afford anything we want and need without limitation. Trust me - I know. I've been in financial trouble long enough and was so close to being in poverty. It's frustrating.

But here is my concern: the danger of running after money.
If you recall from my blog post #16 - Quitting, you will remember that I mentioned quitting the journey to being a chartered accountant. I'm sure, like many others, you probably think I'm crazy, because that is one of the most respected positions - mainly because of the financial benefits that come with it (over and above the expertise).

Here's the thing: If I continued with post-graduate studies and the 3 year articles to eventually become a chartered accountant, I would have limited myself in terms of the things I wanted to do with my life. I would have restricted my 3 years to the life of a trainee in pursuit of being a chartered accountant. I would have been miserable, and I'm not talking about anyone else, hey? I'm talking about me, because I know the person that I am and what I want in life. There are so many things I want to do with my life, and restricting myself from doing them is exactly what would have made me miserable.

The other issue I feel very strongly about is how efficient we are expected to be in these high-paying positions. I've witnessed, from personal experience and observation, that high-paying positions can be demanding and stressful, both of which are not good for anyone's health. It took 2 anxiety attacks before I could realise that the money I was earning at the time is not worth more than my health and life. I was simply not trained and equipped enough to handle the job.

I am now a trainee accountant (not to become a chartered accountant but a professional accountant), and it is such a huge privilege as I have exposure to so much experience. I am learning at a pace good enough for me to understand the work of a professional accountant. It is the kind of work I was passionate about ever since I was exposed to Accounting in high school. It is the job I had always wanted. I am also doing what I've always wanted to do with my life on the side - pursuing and investing on my artistic side as an editor, writer and sketch artist.

You see, there are things that make me who I am that I have realised I cannot neglect, because they are part of who I am, they make me who I am - my unique self. I would not have been satisfied with my life if I limited myself or waited some years until I become the chartered accountant that I don't aspire to be. If I continued, who knows how many more times I would have failed, and while that happens, I would have been losing my years, and how then would I have had the time to perfect my editing and writing, my sketching? They are very much tied to who I truly am and my purpose, and when I live my purpose, joy and happiness are guaranteed forever. I will be effective in life.

Big money will come in due time. The trick is to embrace and enjoy the process of getting there, understanding and appreciating the value of money and life.

P.S: You can check out my other work on my EditorScoop blog. You can also check Mpilo Publishing on Facebook and on Instagram (@mpilopublishing).

Thanks so much for your time and consideration. I trust you enjoyed that, but most importantly that it shed some light.

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Until next time. Take care.