Easing the Transition from University to the World of Work
UKZN’s College of Health Science’s (CHS) Student Support Services team (SSS) held an Exit Orientation and Graduate Recruitment workshop to prepare final-year students for the world of work.
The programme featured a variety of professionals including healthcare workers and medical and human resources specialists.
Speaking at the event, SSS Manager Dr Saloschini Pillay urged CHS students to always consider their mental well-being, saying: ‘With the onset of COVID-19, CHS students have been assisting on the frontlines and this has placed tremendous strain on their mental health. This comprehensive programme provides you with the necessary tools to make a smooth transition into your full time careers as healthcare workers.’
UKZN’s Director of Human Resources Development Mr Michael Cloete encouraged students to pursue lifelong learning, stressing that workplaces were becoming increasingly diverse and complex, making it important for professionals to keep up to date in their respective fields. ‘An important aspect of a healthcare worker’s profession is ensuring strict adherence to the highest ethical codes of their respective professional bodies.’
Dentistry’s Professor Shenuka Singh, who has served for many years on professional bodies, highlighted the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions as a practitioner. ‘Ensure you always respect others, recognise human rights, have integrity and professional competence, and protect the public through the regulations of your statutory bodies.’
Motivational speaker Ms Cindy Norcott addressed students on: Image and Branding in the Workplace, encouraging them to ‘put your best foot forward if you want to be successful’, while student counsellor Ms Wulganithi Thaver, facilitated a session on Financial Literacy for Graduates. This topic is seen as essential for new graduates, especially those going into lucrative paying occupations after graduating unaware of how to manage their income. ‘Don’t become a victim of lifestyle inflation. Always live within your means,’ said Thaver.
Helping to get the message across clearly was UKZN alumnus and Medical doctor Dr Sibongiseni Malinga, who is currently employed as a Medical Officer at the Vryheid Hospital. ‘Once you earn your first salary you will be offered credit cards from banks, car finance packages, insurance policies, and more. It is essential that you prioritise how you spend your income and do not allow yourself to be pressurised by anyone.’
Malinga said he was currently 95% debt free with just a housing loan to pay off – a situation he achieved by living within his means and not being influenced by peer or family pressure. ‘Remember banks are not in business for the best interest of their clients. They exist to make money!’
Medical specialists also presented, including psychiatrist Dr Juby Vidette of King Dinizulu Hospital in Durban who encouraged students to develop line management skills - something that is not taught at university.
Scientist Dr Richard Lessells of UKZN gave advice to students on living healthy during the pandemic, highlighting the need to avoid super-spreader events and always #StaySafe.
Surgeon and trauma specialist Professor Timothy Hardcastle spoke on maintaining professional wellness and always taking note of the ethical/legal ramifications of being a professional. Hardcastle encouraged students to document all their cases, write clearly, make copious notes and know the system they find themselves in.
The final presentation was delivered by Dr Upasana Singh of UKZN who addressed the students on how to be a good digital citizen. She mentioned that in this era of social media, it was important to always maintain a professional image. ‘You can achieve this by not engaging in cyber bulling, not feeding the trolls, being responsible, not taking credit for other people’s work, being careful with personal information and not believing everything you read online,’ said Singh.
Student counsellor Ms Suzanne Stokes conducted a survey after the session, requesting feedback from the students. ‘Almost all the students reported that the programme had made quite an impact on their journey as future healthcare practitioners,’ said Stokes. ‘The majority felt it had been relevant and of value and benefit, with 100% recommending the exit orientation and graduate recruitment programme to colleagues.’
Words: MaryAnn Francis