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Keep your head down, do the work and don’t burn bridges

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While keeping a job is difficult, finding one has proven to be much more difficult, with the unemployment rate as high as 29.1 percent as of 2019 in South Africa.

While I was job hunting after having completed my studies in 2018, I met a man who gave me a long-distance lift as I travelled to submit my application form and supporting documents. While making conversation, I mentioned that I was seeking a job. He wished me well and parted with one piece of advice for me. He told me that no matter what happens, never to miss a Monday, Friday and payday, unless it was a prior arrangement. He told me that although missing work without an explanation was unacceptable, employers took note of those particular days, especially in the public sector.

I have taken that advice to heart but along the way, I have also gained insight that I will take with me wherever life may place me. The most important thing I learnt was learning to take constructive criticism. I work in one of the most peaceful environments and have been so fortunate to learn valuable wisdom in a conducive environment. While speaking to a friend, who is a teacher by profession and is about to switch from one school to another, I shared what I thought was important to keep in mind.

Everyone preaches this but there’s no harm in repeating it – whatever you do, never get yourself involved in office politics. Of course, mingle with your colleagues and have civil relations, but don’t forget your primary objective – doing the work you’re hired for. Unfortunately, South Africa is spawned with the bad habit of teachers not actually doing any work in the classroom, especially in township schools. I told her to do what she was taught at varsity, which is to teach.

Lastly, I advised her never to burn bridges. It doesn’t matter why the working relationship ends, ending it on a good note is very important. You don’t know where else you might bump into your former employer.

Abenathi Gqomo

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