For those of you who are interested in hearing about what an undergraduate degree in BCom Marketing Management at NWU can entail, here is Philasande Sokhle’s valuable experience.
I matriculated from Qophindlela Secondary School, a small 3-block school situated in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, in a little place called Ezakheni. In Matric my subjects were Physical Science, Mathematics, Geography and Life Science, along with other language subjects. I never really had a favourite subject, but I did very well in geography. As a whole, though, I wasn’t too focused during Matric, and didn’t achieve any distinctions. If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would work and focus much more.
Choosing Plan B
My study options consisted of a Plan A and a Plan B. Since I took Physical Science in high school, my Plan A had originally been to study Electrical Engineering (Heavy Current). However, I loved being innovative and to splurge ideas, so that’s where Plan B came in, namely to do a Marketing degree – just in case Engineering didn’t work out. Many people advised me to rather focus on doing other courses instead of gunning for Marketing. This caused conflict within myself. I mean, how could I do something that other people had a vision for, but that wasn’t a vision in which I saw myself at all? I decided to stick with my dream – Plan B.
Once the decision had been made and it came down to achieving the goals, I gave myself a specific time frame for my dream to become a reality. Rather than taking a gap year like many do, I felt like my dream wouldn’t wait around for me. I believe that in order for things to happen, you need a certain amount of pressure and go work hard for them to become reality.
The Time at NWU
I did an undergraduate degree in BCom Marketing Management at the North-West University Vaal Triangle Campus and completed it in 2012. The following year I did an Honours Degree in Entrepreneurship and Marketing Management, and subsequently completed a Master’s degree in Marketing Management.
During my first year at varsity, my Commerce modules overwhelmed me, and well… I failed almost half of my modules for both semesters. It wasn’t because I was dumb, but because I lost focus of the reason that brought me to varsity in the first place. I would have to repeat the modules in my second year. At times I knew right away that I had failed, because I didn’t get my exam scripts. Something needed to happen differently, and only I was in charge of that.
In Second Year, I started to make some changes to my life. I got rid of people, or so-called friends, that were a negative influence on me. I started focusing more on my studies and reduced the levels of procrastination. I asked for help from the career counselling office at varsity and told them about the issue I had with my studies. They helped me a lot and helped me realise more about myself and about what I really wanted to achieve. I knew I was smart, but I had never really reached deep down into my aspirations.
By Third Year I had become much more efficient at studying and taking in information. I passed 6 out of 8 modules with distinction. And before I knew it, I graduated and went on to complete my postgrad.
Throughout the challenges of varsity life, I did manage to find various sources of support. First and foremost, I had the full support of my family from day one. They have been with me 100% of the way.
Since I was living away from my home in KZN, it was important for me to find support from people outside of my family too. I stayed in res– which is the best place you can be if you are still a student. It’s filled with homely, welcoming, and diverse people. You get to learn about other people’s cultures and behaviours. I came alive in res. You can learn a lot more from living with other people than staying in a private and isolated accommodation.
I urge anyone to take full advantage of support services offered by his or her institution. I made use of the career development centre’s consultation session, which helped me learn how to properly draft up a CV and prepare for my future job interviews.
In addition to support from family and friends, the greatest support to me was my faith. Prayer was extremely helpful. I believe I was lead onto this path by God, and that he continuously guides me.
What To Expect From an Undergrad Marketing Degree?
For this degree, the two essential ingredients are Mathematics and a passion for Marketing. The degree is very challenging, and some of the things you won’t learn in the coursework and you will have to acquire from further research and reading – for example how to find motivation, or how to channel yourself in the corporate world. The degree does require a lot of work, but if you’re really passionate about it, it doesn’t feel like too much at all. Of course this also depends on your time management and prioritising skills.
Studies in Marketing give you the opportunity to think outside the box, an aspect I enjoyed a lot. It challenges your creativity and enables you to relate your ideas to the real world.
Going the Extra Mile
Part of why I wanted to complete a degree is to get work and make money. But as I pursued my passion for Marketing, I realised that there is a lot more to the working world than money. I started developing a genuine interest in the study material and wanted to master it. In the end, doing my postgrad was the best experience I had at varsity. I had never been so passionate about something in my life before. I loved each and every bit of research, travelling, and excitement that comes with doing your postgrad.
I was a full-time student but ended up working as a mentor during the evenings and as a retail associate on weekends – there was no point in wasting time when I could gain valuable experience. I also volunteered at South African Breweries. It helped me so much – really! It helped me to become more direct and decisive when it comes to decision-making.
My former mentor used to say, “You either do something, or you don’t. Don’t beat around the bush.” Since then, I’ve been able to pursue my dreams with no fear. If I say I want to do something, I do it!
Since my Masters I did find work. Actually, work found me! I now work for Liberty Life, one of the biggest investments company in Africa.
Pursue your dreams no matter what! People used to ask me where I will find work because I am over-qualified, but I’d respond with confidence, because I knew I had what it takes, and I had faith. So go on out there and start chasing your dreams. Don’t let anybody stop you.
People will always confront you about your decisions. If you are looking to do a Masters and PhD, some people might discourage you and advise you to work first. Admittedly, postgrad is a little lonelier, but it can give you many opportunities. Don’t try to convince people of your dreams, since they will never understand your unique vision. Get out there and prove your capabilities. In the end they will salute you at the end of the journey.
Don’t isolate yourself. Consult all possible sources of help and support. Read online content, and get more knowledgeable about your field. Look at different people in your field and see what makes them successful. Sometimes it takes various approaches to achieve your goals, so don’t only depend on one. Learn from others and try out multiple strategies.
My final advice for learners is to have a vision of what you want to achieve, have a drive to achieve, then take that drive and instil it in your coursework. When you know the end result you will surely work hard to get there.
To read about other students who pursued their dreams see Boipelo Moncho’s article on “From Maths Lit to Chartered Accounting.”
Recommended High School subject choices: Pure Maths or Maths Lit, Business Studies
Minimum entry requirements for a Bachelor degree in Marketing Management at NWU: NSC English at Level 3, Pure Maths at Level 3 (or Maths Lit at level 4)
Have a look at our article on ‘Grade 9 – How to choose the right high school subjects?‘ where we cover all the important aspects you need to remember when choosing your subjects in high school.