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The Big Issue Supporting Interns
It has been an absolute pleasure working with Xolisile Mavela, a Public Relations student from Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), as our intern at The Big Issue. Xolisile’s willingness to learn and an eager approach are qualities that will take her far in her career.
Words: this article is brought to you by our Social Worker, Melody Gombakoma.
Xolisile has been with us for the last three months but this month we sadly bid her farewell as she prepares for her examinations for which we wish her well. It was amazing to see how passionate she was about the organisation and how she wanted to be involved and assist in any way she could. In this article she gives us some insight into how her experience was working at The Big Issue.
Xolisile in her own words: “It is true what Malcom Forbes said, that “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one”. Growing up, all I can remember thinking about was what – or rather who – I wanted to be when I grew up, and as the years advance, the more open and curious I get. If I were asked to describe myself in three words, I’d probably protest at how limiting that is (chuckling), but just to give a response, I’d say tenacious, smart and hardworking – I think who one really is can only be revealed by the next person, and also depending on the environment or situation (these bring out certain characteristics in people).
As you may or may not know, Public Relations is – by definition – ‘a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics’. Basically, what Public Relations specialists do is create and maintain a positive public image for the individuals, groups, or organisations they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programmes to shape public perception of their clients and to increase awareness. This industry is as broad as they come, which is why, in this context, I chose those specific terms (tenacious, smart and hardworking) to describe myself. A certain percentage of each quality takes you a long way in this industry and the reason I chose it – well, because I like to sound poetic, I’ll say it chose me – is because of how diverse it is, how thrilling and jostling it is: you work with and learn about people, the world we live in, how it’s evolving with time, how things were and are done and you also get to help create something that could potentially take the world by storm. Public Relations is always exciting, and it brings out of you the extrovert you never knew was hiding inside of you.
I have been working as an intern at The Big Issue for the last three months.
All l can say is working as an intern has provided me with a wealth of learning opportunities. I have learned about the organisation’s mission, values and operations. It’s about being able to support and empower people facing social exclusion, and also about the importance of working collaboratively with other organisations and individuals. The Big Issue organisation positively impacted me in many ways, like gaining practical experience and skills in a real-world setting. Meeting and working with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, being able to develop an understanding of social issues and how to address them. In all, l was able to develop confidence and a sense of purpose through working on meaningful projects. I will forever be grateful for the experience.”