I applied to the Dell Young Leaders program while pursuing my law degree because I knew that with my background and goals, I needed mentorship, academic, and financial support to graduate and find employment. When I decided to change my course of study to Humanities, the Dell Young Leaders program didn’t hesitate to continue supporting me, connecting me to the University of Cape Town Careers Services and scheduling interviews and group assessments with top companies, which led to me landing a position at KPMG Durban.
I always knew that employment was something that I would need to mentally and physically prepare for; however, when I received the job offer, I had mixed feelings. I was excited but also very nervous. I had never been outside of Cape Town, and the idea of leaving my family to take a job in Durban, where I knew no one, was daunting. I am grateful that I received a call from the Dell Young Leaders program telling me of the job offer before KPMG called me, as I did not want to jeopardize my position by initially voicing my concerns to them. I wanted to sound grateful and confident. They helped me draw up an agenda which addressed my concerns and possible solutions, so that when KPMG called, I sounded calm and focused.
My family has always been close, even as we lived in a community rife with poverty and struggle. When I was a teenager, I moved with my mother and two sisters from my stepfather’s
to my grandmother’s house. There were years when we could not afford electricity or public transport, and when my mom lost her job at a local food factory, we went without basics such as food. While it was difficult growing up without a male role model, my mom was always a source of strength as I continued with schooling.
I drew on that strength when accepting the job at KPMG. I believe magic happens outside of one’s comfort zone, and despite my fears, I was eager to explore a new city. Still, I knew there would be difficulties making this transition; for example, I got lost many times trying to find my way to work. As a result of the skills I learned as a Dell Young Leader, I was able to connect with the Human Resources Department to make my commute easier. I now drive with a colleague who offered me a lift to and from work.
My advice to students entering the workforce is to make the most of the opportunities granted to you and put yourself out there.
I am happy that I took the leap of faith to accept the job. I have learned that time and distance are relevant concepts and my perspective on life has broadened. Though I miss my home and family terribly, being away has made me appreciate them more. I have learned to be independent and that there is no room for complaints or excuses. I’ve made friends and embraced Durban. I also realized I am capable of much more than I thought I was.
I know that a positive attitude makes a significant difference. That’s why I write down my personal and professional accomplishments daily, and I am proud that I never gave up. My association with KPMG has kick-started my career in a very positive way. I’ve been granted more responsibility and I am also self-supporting, which has greatly helped my family. They are very proud of me and have always been encouraging.
My advice to students entering the workforce is to make the most of the opportunities granted to you and put yourself out there. The best life lessons are learned in difficult transitions when you are uncomfortable. You may feel lost and confused at first, but always be thankful and never give up. The journey is worth it!
Bianca Lawrence is a Dell Young Leader raised in Ottery and Heathfield, Cape Town. She was accepted into the Dell Young Leaders program while pursuing a law degree at the University of Cape Town. She is currently a Human Resources Administrator and Graduate Recruiter at KPMG South Africa, where her responsibilities include administering Learning and Development training, and planning/organizing graduate recruitment events.
This post is part of a series profiling Dell Young Leaders. You can read the series introduction here: https://www.msdf.org/blog/2015/02/transformative-power-dell-young-leaders-program-journey-university-work/ and hear from other Dell Young Leaders here: https://www.msdf.org/blog/tag/dyl-profile/.