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March 25, 2020

Njunju Nxumalo – Theatre4Youth Assistant

Nontobeko Nxumalo

One of the key experiences recommended during your time as an undergraduate is doing an internship. Gaining work experience is key for boosting your employability. That’s why, during my third year at City Varsity, I thought it was a smart move to start applying for all internships that were in line with my career, rather than waiting to receive my bachelor degree or be a full graduate. Lucky enough, ASSITEJ South Africa positively responded to my application and I was one of the chosen candidates.

I didn’t know who ASSITEJ SA was until I actually applied and looked them up on the net, my interest were the programmes they offered and their focal point of creating work for young audiences. I write, perform and direct theatre but not for young audiences and that was when in my head I said YES! Let’s see what unfolds here. At the beginning of my internship – there was so much excitement and joy in being part of the ASSITEJ SA team, simply because I was looking forward to add changes and contributions. The team welcomed me with so much warmth and made me feel at home. I have been enjoying what I do, as it is in my line of career. My 2019 goals were partly met, I got the opportunity to gain work experience at ASSITEJ SA, an opportunity to study a Diploma in Entrepreneurship; knowing that my internship was only for a year – this means I’ll be going back to point A, applying for a permanent job. The only difference is that I’ll be applying with all my experience gained.

The goal of children’s theatre is to provide the best possible theatrical experience for the audience, whether it is a piece of performance that involves children as actors or a piece that involves children as an audience. I didn’t get to do much of what I expected apart from watching children plays and take part in workshops of Sarah and Argent Lewis – where they shared various information about the simplicity of creating work for children and young people without speaking on their behalf but the children speaking for themselves. I wish I had been more involved with a production and engaged a little bit more as a performer or a writer. Cradle of Creativity 2019  gave me a platform to watch more children’s shows and an opportunity to attend seminars; workshops and talkbacks to learn more about the process of creating a production. This was the busiest time of my internship, communication was key, there was consistent determination and most of all FUN! It was beautiful being in a place surrounded by the well-known art gurus and a place that assured me that this part of the industry is right exactly where I am supposed to be.

FirstRand gave all interns an opportunity to coordinate different projects and the main objective of these projects was to give back to the communities of our choice. The Johannesburg Council for the Disabled was the centre of our choice, working hand-in-hand with my partner Mmapula Raphotle. The Drum Circle Programme has made it possible for inclusivity within the arts, bringing children with physical challenges, who were more than excited in showing off their talent and those who were not challenged, together. Mmapula and I couldn’t have done it on our own, our partners; The City of Johannesburg, Social and Development Department were pleased to work with us, they worked with full dedication and determination, they assisted us with solutions in our difficult times and were so supportive and allowed us to play our roles as Project Coordinators. Thembile Tshuma, our ASSITEJ SA Theatre4Youth Coordinator was the Drum facilitator of the programme, he enjoyed playing and teaching the drums. With his dedication and love for the art – he contributed in making The Drum Circle a success.

Working in a professional setting for the first time can be difficult to get used to. But it is the best way to learn how to
navigate the working world through real-life, hands-on experience. One of the most valuable skills I gained from this
internship is the ability to communicate with people in a professional manner. Discussions with bosses and co-workers are different from discussions with lecturers or fellow students. I think I now have a better idea of the appropriate way to behave as a professional. This will help me a lot when I go for job interviews because I will be more confident and experienced in formal settings.

My confidence in computer literacy was 0%, spending more time using the PC has improved my computer skills so
much. As I complete my last month I want to leave my internship with new connections, new additional education – which has been fulfilled by obtaining a certificate in Entrepreneurial Thinking. Keeping in mind that our economy is changing daily, and with it, talents, skills, and experience needed to be a part of that growth cycle. The job market is a competitive one, and often that is a tough learning curve for recent graduates. This is a big reason behind the growth of applied learning and internship opportunities becoming a key part of the college experience for all students.

I would advise everyone to take the opportunity and do an internship.

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