#inspiredbystories

Career tips for newcomers to digital industries (2)

“Learn from different people with different skill sets, experiences and networks.”

by Dr. Mmaki Jantjies, Senior Researcher of the Information Systems academic department at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Career tip #1: Authenticity

Bringing our authentic selves to every role that we take up, is what makes the difference. I always strive to bring who I am into every organization which I form a part of. This is the very nature of diversity: To shape the industry based on our uniqueness, our lived experiences, and our role as mothers as well as unique worldviews. Our contribution will therefore only be meaningful if we bring who we are to the table. I always say: I bring my colourful self to the organizational rainbow, that’s what completes the organizational rainbow.

Career tip #2: Time management and selfcare

Managing time for myself is something that I really value. I take time to do the things that I care about, and ensure this time in my diary. I also avoid sleeping with any phone or laptop in my room to have a full nights rest. Find out what motivates you, what keeps you centred and never compromise on that.

Career tip #3: Balancing motherhood

I have three wonderful children who I am a mother and role model to. My role also involves a lot of travel. I always ensure that I make time for my children but most importantly I take them along in my career journey. If there is an open technology fair showcasing new digital technologies I always take them with. I also introduce them to developers, product designers and researchers in the field to engage them on different technologies. This helps them understand what I do and also educates them on my role as well as what is happening in the field. It can never be easy travelling when you have young children, many people can attest to this. I thus always make sure I get them special goodies on the trip and take time off after the trip to be with them. Remember, there is no balance! Keep juggling those balls to the best of your ability. Also lean into your home support network. I have found that family, friends, and other available support have been indispensable in supporting my work.

Career tip #4: Mentorship and networking

“The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts”. I always ensure that I am surrounded by a self-crafted network of mentors in leadership positions and people who can support me to attain my goals. Also, I always read up on people who I can learn from and pick what I can learn from their experiences. Greatness in every role and in entrepreneurship can only be achieved through resources and drawing lessons from different people with different skill sets, experiences and networks.

Career tip #5: Continuous professional development

In wanting to advance myself and my knowledge, continuous professional development forms a critical role in my journey and path. In 2018, I stepped down from a leadership role to take up a fellowship which allowed me to learn more about Augmented and Virtual reality, and how it would shape the industry in which I was doing my research. Taking time to invest in yourself, either through mentorship, Massive Open Online courses or registering for an academic program is important in ensuring excellence in what you do.

About

Dr. Mmaki Jantjies has led the Information Systems academic department at the University of the Western Cape and the Department at the North West University (being one of the youngest academics to have headed those departments).

She researches in the area of ICT4Development, ensuring inclusive technology products and develops mobile software for education in STEM subjects for schools. Her current focus is on Augmented and Virtual reality in supporting digital learning. Dr. Jantjies also researches the role that technology can play in enhancing the business and health sector in South Africa.

Mmaki has a passion for youth education and founded a Non-Profit Organization to upskill teachers in high schools with ICT skills, to use in classrooms. She also mentors graduate students to start and run technology clubs in underprivileged schools in South Africa. Having founded the project with UN Women and Mozilla Foundation, most of these clubs are focused on training young women and girls.

 

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