Epic Job Expo draws epic number of students to ‘Own Your Future’

22 August 2023 | Story Lisa Templeton. Photos Lerato Maduna. Videography Boikhutso Ntsoko. Video Edit Ruairi Abrahams. VP Team Roxanne Harris, Boikhutso Ntsoko, Ruairi Abrahams and Rozanne Engel. Read time 8 min.
The 2023 UCT Epic Job Expo was an “epic success”.
The 2023 UCT Epic Job Expo was an “epic success”.

The queue wrapped around the Sports Centre on Wednesday, 16 August, as more than 5 000 students sought to maximise the opportunity to connect with 84 top businesses, drawn to the expo by the high quality of University of Cape Town (UCT) graduates and offering 3 400 opportunities – ranging from bursaries and internships to graduate programmes and full-time jobs.

With 4 000 students expected, even organisors were impressed by the number of students who arrived, curriculum vitae (CV) in hand.

“We had 5 277 students come through the door. This is the most we have seen at this event,” said Nawaal Boolay, the head of Graduate Recruitment at UCT’s Careers Service.

“It is wonderful to see such a big response – that UCT, as one of the world’s highest-ranking universities – can attract so many people post-COVID-19,” said Naziema Jappie, the director interim of Careers Service.


“For our students, it is truly about owning your future in conjunction with industry.”

“As the number one university on the continent, it is important for Africa that we have collaboration with multi-national companies. We need global connectivity for global citizenship. For our students, it is truly about owning your future in conjunction with industry.”

Voted the Best Career Fair in South Africa by the South African Graduate Employers Association, the Epic Job Expo was launched in 2018, and was held for the first time in 2019, before COVID-19 hit. The 2023 expo encouraged students to “Own Your Future”. Exhibitors included businesses as diverse as platinum sponsor and management consultancy, Monocle Solutions; gold sponsor, Bacardi; silver sponsor McKinsey & Company; and CV sponsor Zutari, to SA Breweries, Investec, Shoprite and PepsiCo SA.

Top employers seek “high-quality UCT graduates”

“This is a world-class event and true showcase of how universities must support engagement between students and corporates,” said Willie Ehlers, the chief operating officer of Monocle and guest speaker at the event. “The expo gives Monocle a perfect opportunity to meet amazing young talent and promote our consulting brand.”

Walied Heynes, the senior technical manager and training officer at Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), said: “UCT is renowned for producing high-calibre graduates.” He said this was evident in the fact that the AG, Deputy AG, and many other AGSA employees were UCT alumni.

“To achieve the objective of shifting public sector culture and the AG’s culture shift strategy, we will need to configure to employ competent graduates from institutions such as UCT, hence our continued collaboration with this institution.”

Annette Gardner of SOLIDiTech, a Cape Town-based software engineering company, added: “We find that we get well-rounded, well-trained graduates from UCT. A good 75% of our graduates are from UCT.”

Why is this? “The students come with a broad base of knowledge. We don’t hire simply [based] on a degree; we hire a package. Being able to code is a basic requirement for a software engineer. We also look for good problem-solving abilities, communication skills and leadership promise, and we find high-quality students here.”

Candice Lategan of UCT long-standing employer partner, Mazars, an international audit tax and advisory services group, was looking for chartered accountants for multiple opportunities – from a comprehensive graduate programme to vacation work and full bursary offerings.


“We find that UCT really invests in their students, both in theoretical knowledge and through workshops to prepare them for the workplace.”

“We find that UCT really invests in their students, both in theoretical knowledge and through workshops to prepare them for the workplace. That assists us in taking that student and further developing them to be a well-rounded professional,” Lategan said.

Katlego Nxuseka, senior recruiter at McKinsey & Co, agreed. “UCT offers a high calibre of candidates. We find students are well prepared and academically strong. Our relationship with the university has grown, and we’d like to improve on that. We’d like to have an impact on candidates’ lives through the university, in terms of producing future leaders.”

His top tip to students was to get involved in anything that will grow leadership and entrepreneurship skills. “It is a differentiator and shows you are not just focused on your studies but on innovating, collaborating and setting yourself apart from others.”

Ultimately it is about landing meaningful opportunities

Boolay said that employability is a huge focus for UCT. “Our international university rankings depend on it. Employability counts 30% in the QS World University Rankings. This expo offers students real opportunities to meet up with potential employers who are actively seeking to recruit employees, interns and graduate programme candidates.

“Most of these businesses have great graduate programmes. It is about Careers Service making sure students and industry meet.”

The 2023 Epic Job Expo saw more than 5 000 students attend.

Ehlers’ advice to students was to use the opportunity to ask questions and seek out the best company aligned to their values and ambitions to launch their career.

“Use all the opportunities at your disposal and fully immerse yourself in university life – societies, sport, leadership roles – as that will enable you to develop skills to make you a well-rounded professional one day. And when facing adversity, don’t give up,” Lategan advised.

The importance of customising your CV

Running the width of the Sports Centre was a row of Careers Service career development consultants, sponsored by infrastructure engineers and advisors, Zutari, to advise students on optimising their CVs.

“It is essential that a CV is targeted to a specific opportunity in order to elevate your application,” said Megan Blacker of Careers Service. “All students tutor and are members of a society, so a good CV and cover letter, in which your voice comes out, can really make the difference when it comes to landing an interview.”

An invaluable platform

“It is important for UCT students to engage with these employers who’ve chosen UCT over other institutions, and who are here wanting to fill roles with our students. Corporations are attracted to UCT based on the prestige of the university and the quality of the graduates produced,” said Hishaam Hoosain, the manager for Graduate Recruitment at Careers Service.

“I am optimistic about finding potential job opportunities within the marketing field and believe the expo has given me a platform to do so,” said Ontshi Sedingwe, who is doing a postgraduate diploma in marketing management.


“UCT was delighted to host the largest face-to-face Epic Job Expo in the country.”

Sedingwe was one of the multitude of students who thronged about the stalls in a steady stream throughout the day, hoping to meet future employers face to face and make valuable connections.

“There are so many companies in South Africa with wonderful opportunities, and the Job Expo helps to narrow it down because we know they are specifically looking for UCT graduates,” said Michaela De Waal, who is doing her honours in organisational psychology, and was looking for internships and graduate programmes.

Luthando Magangane, a second-year Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television student, was hoping to land a part time job to garner experience. “I’d like to sharpen my skills as a film maker, and test out all areas of film making to see which suits me best: production, writing, editing, cinematography or directing.”

Boolay concluded: “UCT was delighted to host the largest face-to-face Epic Job Expo in the country. We want to extend a special thank you to all our sponsors who have allowed us to elevate this event. The buzz was electric. #OWNYOURFUTURE.”

Want to know more about writing a good CV and cover letter? Visit the Careers Service website.

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