I remember in my first year of University, a woman from the faculty of commerce came to tell us about an opportunity to be a part of the Dell Young Leaders Program. While I didn’t know much about the program yet, I dreamed of the possibilities which included the idea of having a laptop. Wouldn’t that be amazing! But I also thought to myself, before I let my imagination take me where my feet could not, let me listen and hear more about this opportunity.
I am the second-to-last born in a family of three girls and three boys. My dad never spent much time at home, as he was working outside of town, but he visited on regular basis and we always spent the school holidays with him. Staying in the rural area was a challenge as the sanitation was very poor, there was no electricity or running water, and the shops, clinics, and schools were very far and not always safe to access.
The Dell Young Leaders Program was a big help when it came time to prepare for a career. As part of the career readiness training, I participated in a leadership initiative that took us through an assessment process that was conducted in the same manner as a real job application process. Luckily for me, being a curious, enthusiastic and active guy with positive energy, I made a good impression on the company that helped run the training, and they advised me to apply to their Graduate Program Finance Role. I was so happy to pass the online assessment and learn that I was up for the final stage of the process – an interview with the company’s Finance Director. Imagine how scary and exciting this was!
I didn’t know whether to cry or scream because I realized in that moment that my dreams were being realized.
The Dell Young Leaders Program helped me prepare for the interview, telling me to be me – but a better version of myself. When it came time for the interview, I was engaging both interviewers, making eye contact, and applying all those techniques we were taught about the interview process. Most importantly, I never stopped being myself.
The evening after the interview, one of the company’s talent personnel called and offered me the job on their graduate program. I didn’t know whether to cry or scream because I realized in that moment that my dreams were being realized. And I could not have done it without the Dell Young Leader workshops which helped me a lot in honing my interview and networking skills. I have not yet started working but getting the job offer was one of the achievements that I am proudest of, along with getting my degree from the best university on the continent so that I can go out there and compete with the brightest minds.
The Dell Young Leaders program is one of the best student support structures that you can find on campus. My advice to other students would be to make an effort to utilize every single opportunity that the program has to offer. And most of all, work hard, and never stop being your authentic self.
Siphelo Maldine is a Dell Young Leader raised in the Eastern Cape. He was accepted into the Dell Young Leaders program while pursuing a Bachelor of Business Science Degree at the University of Cape Town. He is slated to begin work as a Graduate Trainee in finance and marketing at Brandhouse Beverages (Pty) Ltd in January 2015.