Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The last month of our internship

This week has been filled with administrative odds and ends. Its fun to do these things because it gives me a break from doing research and sitting behind the computer all day, which often takes its toll on the body. Our research on Change and Communications Management toolkits is going great and Mpho helps me a lot. This is the task we have been given right at the beginning of our internship and every now and then, between all the other tasks we have been given, we will sit down and concentrate on this work.

I’m very excited for next week. We are invited to a seminar on Change and Communications Management with our other supervisor, Michele Wickham. A couple of weeks ago she went to a worldwide conference on this specific topic in Colorado and is going to give us the feedback on Tuesday.

I’ve have loved working life so far. My daily routine never gets tedious and seeing friends for a quick drink after work is also great. Most of my friends work so all of us know that time is precious with your friends. I was also told the novelty of working life will wear off but so far I’m still enjoying every moment.

Monday, June 19, 2006

CSI - Corporate Social Investment

Congratulations to all of those who are busy with their internships and those who have found a permanent job. But I must say I couldn’t expect anything less from our class. We all worked very hard to benefit from the training we have received.

I just want to give some information through to specifically Cyrille and also anybody who finds Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) an area of interest. To me its not only an area of interest but also an area of necessity for the South African economy and the companies who adopt this way of working.

I found great articles from my supervisor at work, Fiona McDonald, who is actually a consultant for Rand Merchant Bank. And part of her consulting is Corporate Social Responsibility. She gave me a journal to do some extra reading on the topic. It is called “Above Board – Africa’s Global Chronicle on Governance, Leadership and Ethics”. Fiona wrote an article on the importance of CSI and CSR called “The (Social) Butterfly Effect”. This article expresses the nature of these areas and explains that if companies invest in these two areas, the society who will benefit from this will in turn invest into South Africa’s economy, which in turn will increase, like Fiona says, the ‘brand position’ of the company. Here is a short extract from her article to explain it better:

“Investment in education, skills development, healthcare, literacy, child care, HIV/Aids, gender abuse and the like builds a society that can participate more effectively in the economy.In doing this, we create more skilled employees, more consumers, a healthier nation with a longer lifespan – the ripple or butterfly effect – thus contributing to the economy for a longer period of time, and in a more valuable manner. And all the while, the brand position of the organisation is being enhanced.”

The Johannesburg Securities Exchange has a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Index to identify which companies invest socially. This Index assists the JSE in choosing which company to invest in. Companies are ranked according to their achievements with regards to CSI and CSR. The JSE explains the bacground and selection criteria on their website at

I thought you, Cyrille, might find this journal very interesting, and also the JSE website could give you more information so that you can incorporate this knowledge with your internship. There is still so much to say about this topic. And I do still think that many companies have not yet realised what a positive impact CSI will have on them and on the South African society as a whole. I think the whole process of the JSE SRI Index should be more publicised and companies who are part of the Index should be praised even more. What do you think could be done to increase investors and society’s interest?

Graduate programmes

Our time at RMB is running out quickly. While I’m enjoying my job thoroughly and learning everyday, there is this sad feeling inside me when thinking of leaving in a month. There is always the chance of exploring the opportunities available at RMB and one thing that I’m taking out of this internship into my next career is the positive feedback and the positive outlook I have experienced in the last two months.

We have been taught over again that we have the right to approach our supervisors and ask for feedback on our performance at RMB. However, we have been beaten to it. Our supervisors have been giving us feedback even before we could ask. The feedback is great and it boosts the confidence immensely. And it showed me that one of the main problems graduates face is their own self assurance once they start working. To me this is one of the main reasons behind graduates being scared to start working and the big gap between studying and our first job.

I must say I felt the same. I heard many stories how employers do not want graduates and how graduates do not have the experience to start working. This links to my first blogging entry “Experience or no experience? That is the question”. I questioned the whole issue of the unreasonable argument of graduates needing experience before you can start your first job at certain places.

RMB took me in as an intern without any experience. And so far I have seen that being a hard worker and a keen learner will get you where you want. What employers should look for is not just the experience behind a graduate’s name, but also their abilities and desire to learn about the company and its people/clients. The graduate should be one to add value to the company, whether he has less than one year experience behind his name or more. I think more companies should start Graduate Programmes. This will train graduates according to the needs of the company and it will add value to the company to bring in fresh new ideas and faces. And this will help address the training deficit South Africa is experiencing at the moment.

RMB offers internships for certain areas of the Bank if anyone would like to apply. One can reply on the RMB website at

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Having a Ball

The past week and a half has been quite busy but exciting. We are busy organising a communications sessions with our supervisor, Fiona, for all the people involved in our business unit.

It is quite a big responsibility to know we are here to do a serious job and no one is going to babysit and see whether we are fine or not. The tasks are given to us with an explanation of what to do and from there on out you’re on your own. It sounds like I’m implying we are being thrown in the deep end. It might be in a slight sense somewhat like that. But in the end of the day I realise how valuable these actions are. I learn more every day. I know how to use the usual office equipment needed for everyday use, and I have learnt the schedule and e-mailing system which RMB uses, I have learnt the importance of good communication, and many more.

Currently I am tackling the task of making a PowerPoint presentation for a our Project Change and Communication session. But this is not your average run of the mill presentation we use to do at university. This is the type where you actually get excited to start creating the next slide because there are so many fun things to do in this programme. It is taking me quite a while to make it perfect, but at least I’m on track regarding my deadline. Eventually I will send it off to Fiona who will check it and help me format it. Holding thumbs.

Another task I had to complete was taking photos of all the people involved in our business unit in order to have all their photos and profiles on our shared computer system. Even though it was quite embarrassing to go around to about 20 people and ask for their photo (including some hard battles with those who didn’t want theirs taken), it turned out to be an eventful and beneficial task. I got to meet everyone involved in our unit, and I got to learn all their names by putting faces to it.

I am still having ball at RMB. From learning and working hard to having fun in the office and making friends - this journey is truly worth it.