College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Mr Sanele Zuma.

“Meet Our Graduates” Alumni Series Explores the Dangers of Entitlement

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) relaunched its highly successful online alumni series with a discussion by Student Development Officer, Mr Sanele Zuma on the dangers of entitlement.

“Meet Our Graduates” attempts to address the many difficulties that UKZN alumni have – from the time they are students studying towards their chosen career path, right up until after they have graduated and moving towards their desired end goal; be it a job or business venture.

In his discussion around the dangers of adopting an attitude of entitlement upon graduation, Zuma focused on mental health within the context of character development.

In particular, Zuma focused on the problems with mental health that surround unemployed graduates looking for work. He cited statistics that show that South Africa’s unemployment rate sits at 34.5%. Among those, 63.9% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed. Discouraged job seekers have grown by 16.4% over the past few years, which translates to an additional 554 000 people who have given up on ever obtaining a job.

Zuma said that most graduates lack the basic ability to market themselves. He stressed that one’s resume serves as one’s introduction to a firm.  ‘If you can’t sell yourself in that document, you’ve lost the chance to get selected for an interview or, better still, land the job you were applying for. Lacking such a fundamental ability might cause you to experience a lot of disappointment, which leaves you feeling despondent. Inevitably, you find yourself slipping into depression as a result. The struggle comes when you fail to position yourself in that job you envisioned after having graduated.

‘Many students choose a particular degree with a specific goal in mind with regards to what position they would like to occupy and all the benefits that come with that career path,’ said Zuma, while also querying why most students study for and finish their degrees without ever attempting to gain any work experience with most UKZN campuses located in close proximity to central business districts.

‘Do they feel they are entitled to something better than job shadowing as an initial form of work experience? Is it a form of entitlement that goes along with being associated with such an institution? At what point does one regard certain job opportunities as being beneath them? Truth is, we all have to start somewhere and build on from there.

‘The unsettling feeling of finding yourself getting jobs that you feel are beneath you is what most graduates have to work on. We all have to start somewhere in life,’ said Zuma.

He also pointed out that even when some graduates do find employment, they lack the ability to make themselves seen within the company. ‘Their work ethic is poor and then they wonder why they are never mentioned for a promotion. How can you expect a company to take you seriously when you’re not taking yourself seriously?

‘Job shadowing exposes you to the range of employment available in your profession and helps you establish yourself inside a business before they ever hire you. Take the initiative and make your mark within the company so that it only makes sense for them to employ you on a full-time basis once you’ve graduated,’ said Zuma.

Words: Cindy Chamane

Photograph: Supplied