Meet Siya Juwela, a Mazars intern who ‘keeps learning daily’

“I was taken on an office tour, to my desk! My own desk! At that point I felt like I have made it. There is nothing more awesome than the feeling of knowing that you are valued, wanted and needed at work.” - Siya Juwela, YES Programme Candidate 2019/2020

When 26-year-old Siya Juwela from Langa, Cape Town started looking for job opportunities, he found the process quite difficult and any rejection very disappointing. However, a bit of research, a leap of faith and an application to the YES programme changed Siya’s course and gave him the opportunity to intern at Mazars this year.

Siya, who lost his hearing in 2017 after being diagnosed with Asymmetrical hearing loss & Tinnitus, filled out many applications but often felt that employers doubted his capabilities when they saw his hearing aid. Looking back though, he believes that rejection prepares you for the real world. “One thing that I learnt about rejection, is that although it hits you far beyond the gut in the most horrible way, it has to happen for you to be strong and be the person that you need to be,” he says.

While going through the back and forth process of applications, Siya stumbled upon the YES programme. The YES programme is an initiative between the Government of South Africa and big corporates to address unemployment and skills gaps in the country by giving unemployed youth a 12-month internship at corporate companies.

With little hope of getting feedback because of the large amount of unemployed youth in South Africa, Siya just took a chance and submitted his CV. “I was surprised when I received an email from Mazars saying they were referred to me by YES programme within two months. I could not believe it!”

 Throwback to the interview

On the day of his interview, Siya remembers being a nervous wreck when he walked into a meeting room at Mazars where two directors, a digital marketing strategist and a senior HR manager were waiting. “I almost fainted, my heart started racing and my mouth got so dry,” he recalls. “Then I thought let me just relax, learn as much I as I can and answer all questions truthfully - and the interview turned out to be a successful one!”

Although Siya was not quite sure about the work Mazars does, he was excited to be part of the team and to work in the corporate world. “I knew that there was­­­­ quite a lot to learn and that I would never let this opportunity just pass me by,” he says.

The good, the bad and the everyday moments of life at Mazars

Walking into the building on his first day, Siya knew from the get-go that working for Mazars would give him hands on experience. You might wonder at which point someone truly feels at home? Well for Siya there’s no doubt about it: the moment he was taken to his desk. “There is nothing more awesome than the feeling of knowing that you are valued, wanted and needed at work,” he says.

One of the highlights of life at Mazars for Siya has been being part of the National Marketing team and getting to interact with both the national and international offices, like the one in Botswana. “Being an intern here helped me improve my communication skills and my confidence has been boosted,” Siya says.

But this past year didn’t come without its challenges. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and offices around the country moved online during lockdown, Siya has had to adapt to working-from-home. “It’s quite busy and noisy where I stay, and my hearing aid picks up every little sound which actually makes me lose focus,” he admits.

All in all, Siya says that the opportunity to work in a professional firm this past year has helped him to develop a better understanding of his career and given him a better taste of what he wants to do in the future.

Life after Mazars and future plans

As Siya’s yearlong internship as a YES candidate draws to a close, he says he would definitely recommend the programme to other South African youths. “Being an intern gives you a feel for work before being thrown into the deep end. This opportunity prepares you for the journey and it helps you discover what you want to do in the future.”

With an internship behind him and his career ahead of him, the future looks bright for Siya who is eager to keep learning. He hopes to be hired permanently by a company that allows him to learn as much as possible while adding value to the world. He also aims to obtain his Advanced Diploma in Marketing by the end of 2020. “I honestly feel like I am on journey of discovery as I keep learning daily.”

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