Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Young Mother Learning to Juggle Between Internship and Family

Boitumelo Ramarwane

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is the biggest broadcaster on the African continent and many young students of media and journalism in South Africa dream of working for the broadcaster. You can imagine how happy I was to get a call from them telling me that I had been shortlisted for an internship.

The SABC has gone through a few financial problems in the past two to three years and many thought the national broadcaster would not be taking any new people. In the past few years the SABC re-launched SABC Africa as SABC News International, lost the DSTV platform which would allow them access to viewers across the African continent and eventually shutting down the channel and didn’t renew contracts of much of the company’s staff. After that gloomy news no student of journalism would have thought they would be considered for an internship there.

One of our lecturers at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) came to our class one day and announced that he was giving us less than 24 hours to fix our CVs so they could be submitted to the SABC. Luckily mine was ready so I submitted it, was called for an interview and was offered the job after three weeks of going there.

As a young mother I also had to think about my kids and who would be taking care of them in Pretoria while I was based in Johannesburg’s Auckland Park, the SABC headquarters. I thought I could travel daily and a conversation with a friend made me realise we could be working shifts and travelling would be almost impossible.

I then realised that I’d have to find accommodation in Jozi and decided to go to the offices of private student residences, South Point, which was a nightmare. The service in the company’s Johannesburg office was shocking to say the least. I remember waiting in their lobby for more than two hours only to be returned home and I never went back as requested because I couldn’t stand that kind of incompetence.

On the third day, I went back to Jo’burg with my bags and no key and headed straight to the South Point offices and threatened them with lawyer action and they quickly sorted out their problems and gave me keys to my residence. With accommodation sorted the hardest thing for me was still the thought of being away from my two babies I used to see daily after class.

I had to deal with those emotions by myself but had to quickly adapt to the City of Gold and had to start work at the SABC. The company catered for us well on the first month as we would get food vouchers enabling us to get lunch and Fanta Grape or Kwesta. The voucher also allowed me to even get a bit of supper for when I returned to the residence in the evening. Yep that was shweet as I took myself out and had a whole lot of fun.

The work at the SABC has shown me what I learnt in class and practised on campus radio. We, as TUT students, are even praised for being ahead of the rest on the work that we do which makes me realise that I received the right kind of training and that the university is one of the best journalism training institutions in the country.

My first tasks with the public broadcaster were to work on television current affairs programmes where I was taught how to package a story. The five week project required me to research, go on camera shoots, select visuals, transcribe, write scripts and edit current affairs packages. The voice would then be laid over the visuals then the final product would go on air. All this happens under the watchful eye of an Executive Producer.

I am now with radio and it’s a different ball game here. Everything is fast and immediate as I have been taught at university where I would be complaisant at times leaving my work for TUT FM’s weekly Live@12 for the last minute. Now I know how to work on an hourly basis. I work for the desk that produces news for commercial radio stations, Metro and 5FM. I have to write and compile stories suitable for bulletins to air on the two radio stations. Once done I also have to cut sound and at times do voice reports which has been a struggle and a lot of practise.

I am having a great time and didn’t realise I would enjoy it this much but as explained I miss my kids and during the past week have decided to commute between Johannesburg and Pretoria again as time permits and I can be closer to them.


  1. I think you should be greatful for the opportunity that you have received from the SABC. It would be pointless for you to stay with your kids if you can't feed them. Baby girl the SABC is the best and be rest-assured that if you stick to that company you will be able to earn enough to rent your own place. Work hard and you might get a place big enough for you and your kids. Don't blow this, there are very few internships in PTA. Joburg is the hub for journalism. Rei Malala

  2. nice article, indeed, I think its a good thing that someone is talking about this so that those who follow you will know what to expert or even consult with you if the need arises.

    there is something we journalist do not do, we don't want share information with one another nor help each other, that is why we so struggling when it comes to internship hunting.Siyabonga Nxumalo

  3. Diketso Lekhelebane

    As a young mother myself I understand what you are talking about. I left my son when he was just nine months old and unlike you I couldn't see him for close to four months since I was studying in the Eastern Cape. As the saying goes absence makes the heart grow fonder and today (sixteen years later) nothing could separate my boy and I. Youl'll be fine my dear sister and in time you will realise that life is all about sacrifices, Diketso Lekhelebane.

  4. Hei Boitu, read your article girl, its very inspiring. I'm glad that SABC had decided to give you a chance to prove yourself. As Siyabonga has said, the journalists of today do not like sharing their experiences with us (who are following their footsteps). I'm a second year Jopurnalism student and I've made a lot of enquiries to the well-known Journalists as to find out how can I easily get an access on radio for an internship. No one has decided to respond to those questions. Im still knocking on different doors even though the receptionists are making sure that the doors are not just closed but locked Thanks very much for sharing this information. You are an inspiration and a half.

    Cape Town (Damein)