This year’s Epic Job Expo was the largest of its kind held at the University of Cape Town (UCT), combining five expos into one and giving students a unique opportunity to meet multiple possible future employers on a single day.
Organised by UCT’s Careers Service and held on Wednesday, 8 August, the event hosted 100 exhibitors keen to attract bright and eager graduates from UCT to their businesses.
Besides being an opportunity to engage with students, the exhibitors could also contribute to a job wall, advertising particular career opportunities ranging from vacation work and internships to graduate jobs and international placements.
The technology, retail, banking, travel and healthcare sectors were arranged in five expo zones, making it easier for students to navigate according to their particular interests. Participants included big names such as Monocle Solutions, Bain & Company, Amazon, Procter & Gamble and Investec Asset Management, as well as smaller firms and start-ups.
“Employers want to come back because UCT graduates are well received.”
Scouting for talent
David Buckham, CEO of Monocle Solutions, said that the expo was a great opportunity to swap information with students and graduates. The type of student that Monocle aims to attract is tenacious and brave, he said.
“Our objective is to get the best people in the market. We are looking for explorers.”
Buckham, who also presented one of the TED-style talks that were held throughout the day, believes that the future of work is that employees will be able to find “ontological meaning” in their careers.
“We want to disrupt the idea that work is separate from life,” he said.
Go2Africa, a luxury safari company, was keen to engage with graduates who have a love of travel.
“The benefit of an expo like this is that we can reach a broad range of students. We don’t necessarily look for specific disciplines, so being here means we have a bigger reach,” said Laura Evans, a human resources consultant for the company.
“The opportunity we are offering is for students to join our Safari Expert Academy ... What they will do is design and tailor-make these trips for our clients. It’s a really awesome job because you are literally making dreams come true.”
In the tech zone, large South African firm DigiOutsource was seeking to recruit developers. The technology company focuses on online gaming and gambling. Last year’s careers expo resulted in 12 hires.
“We are here on a massive drive. Because our company is rapidly growing, we need to get in some fresh, young blood,” said in-house recruiter Tanya Kotze.
“Our culture is fantastic. We are all about you as a person; you’re not just a number. Someone coming from UCT would start as a graduate, and within a year you’re a junior developer. From there, the sky’s the limit. It’s about what you make of it.”
Consulting firms were well represented at the expo, and one of the biggest names was Bain & Company. Bukani Mbutho, a UCT alumnus and associate consultant with the firm, said that, in its simplest form, they solve problems for top management in global companies.
“What we are looking for is young minds, bright minds, critical thinkers who are curious. Over and above questioning things, we want people who are willing to change things.
“Over and above questioning things, we want people who are willing to change things.”
“Every single day I’m challenged and I’m growing. For any student who feels like they’re not sure what they want to do but they’re curious about changing world problems, Bain is the place to be,” he said.
The CV lab
A new innovation at the careers expo was a specialised curriculum vitae (CV) lab, which Ingrid van der Merwe, head of Careers Advisory Service, said had proved extremely popular with the students.
“We’ve brought in student workers that work for the foundations, so they have a lot of student development experience, and they are reviewing CVs throughout the day. That’s been very popular; we have a long queue of students waiting,” she said.
Jian Yi Song, who is completing an honours degree in economics, was one of those waiting his turn.
“I’m hoping to get into a grad programme for next year. I’ve had general CV help before, but today I’m looking for help with the details and the wording of my CV.”
UCT Careers Service also had a strong presence at the expo.
“It’s a great way to draw students into the services that we have and highlight programmes that are going to happen later in the year,” Van der Merwe added.
“Our job expos are well received by both employers and students,” said Nawal Boolay, acting director of UCT Careers Service.
“Students find it’s a good platform for them to find not just job opportunities but internships … bursary opportunities and vacation programmes. Employers want to come back because UCT graduates are well received. We’ve had positive feedback from employers year-on-year.”
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