Successful partnerships are inevitable once an agency and its clients realise the mutual benefits of aligning their goals. The Meropa Communications Internship Programme, KgateloPele – which means bravely taking steps forward – develops young, talented individuals in a deliberate effort to upskill the youth and help develop South Africa’s PR industry.
For many who have been part of KgateloPele, the programme has not merely been for graduates needing practical work experience, it has been the perfect start to their careers. Many of them have enjoyed employment opportunities within the agency while others have gone on to enjoy successful industry careers.
“Investing in our industry is vital to skill-proof our future,” says Meropa CEO, Patrick Gearing. “Not only does Meropa enjoy sharing our knowledge with the future generation, our interns play a huge role in teaching and challenging us to keep up. It’s this partnership that ultimately benefits our clients, diversifies our view of audiences and strategic approach, and pushes PR forward on the continent.”
As a graduate, gaining practical work experience is necessary not only to gain a competitive advantage but to determine what career path to follow. It demystifies the bridge between theory and the harsh realities of implementing practical PR strategies.
KgateloPele is a partnership between Meropa Communications and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and only the top Strategic Communication Honours graduates are considered. Since inception, Yolisa Pasipanodya, Managing Director of Meropa Communications, has expressed the importance of taking the time to develop young black women in particular, through such programmes.
Yolanda Makhubele, a former intern who was recruited by the agency and is now facilitating KgateloPele, is just one of many success stories. Yolanda shared how being mentored by colleagues, who were also former interns, during her internship motivated her to do the same for the interns to follow.
“I’m all about constantly learning, that’s the only way to truly grow. Being an intern at Meropa Communications allowed me to do that and so much more. Even though I am now responsible for managing the interns, I’m always open to learning from them as well,” she said.
Comments from the current intake of young talented interns:
“Well my experience at Meropa has been pretty amazing. Working in PR was never something I thought I would do. In university I was given a very narrow-minded view of PR and I didn’t quite enjoy it. I enjoy it much more now, it’s interesting and always needs for one to think on their feet and be ready for anything. Days are never the same here.”
Zinhle Msibi, Ford Intern
“The last two months have been an amazing journey, as it has allowed me to find my feet and adjust my wings before taking flight into the life of a public relations practitioner. At this stage the internship has given me an opportunity to check all my tools (oils, landing gear) and skills (flight manuals) that I have acquired through my years in university. I am surrounded by people who are very experienced and willing to impart their knowledge in my direction which has made the experience at Meropa even more worthwhile. I have been allowed to grow into the environment and continue to be a student that is testing their wings until I am able to take over and fly on my own. I look forward to more challenges and opportunities that come along as they continue to test my abilities and passion for public relations.”
Sicelo Vilakazi, Indlulamithi Intern
Benjamin Franklin once said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Being granted the opportunity to get involved and learn is precisely how my internship at Meropa Communications turned out to be.
Nwabisa Dlevu, SANRAL Intern
“For my internship, I aim to form meaningful connections and gain a solid foundation to become a better strategist and writer. So far, the highlight of my internship is going to a stakeholder event where I got to interview the mayor of the Vhembe district in Limpopo. I think Stakeholder Relations is interesting to me because you have to really understand what dealing with each stakeholder entails. It’s that challenge of having to relate to the highest officials to the ordinary person on the street which excites me but I still look forward to learning about the other aspects of PR in the coming months”
Masego Seema, SANRAL Intern