Q&A with JumpStart alumnus, Julia Maduna

As we approach Youth Month, we turn to the JumpStart tutors who have contributed to our success over the years. We want to know where they are now and how they are getting on. Our first Alumni Q&A is a conversation with Julia Maduna.

Where was Julia in 2017?

As a new graduate, starting at Tamaho Primary School was a great opportunity to give back to the community where I grew up. Sotho is my home language, so learning to speak Xhosa and discovering the subtleties of a different culture enriched me.

What were the challenges?

I was 24 years old and still had some things to learn. Although our training workshops prepared me to be a good tutor, I had to figure out how to deal with learners who refused to follow the rules. I tried talking but they wouldn’t listen… that was frustrating. The Deputy Principal, Mrs Makumsha, was very supportive. She guided me on how to deal with difficult situations. I became a team leader in 2018, managing intermediate phase learners doing maths on tablets at six digital schools. That helped me grow my leadership skills and gave me a taste of working with technology that prepared me for my next big career move to Nedbank.

Where is Julia in 2020?

Julia in 2020 is taking on the banking industry! Back in my tutoring days, my mentor, Jabu Thomo, and Barbara always said, “Don’t get stuck here.” They encouraged us interns to apply for other positions and to aim high. I have a Diploma in Credit Management from UJ’s College of Business and Economics, and a Certificate in Financial Markets and Instruments from Milpark. When a career opportunity at Nedbank came along, I decided to shoot for it.

What was your biggest challenge after leaving JumpStart?

Leaving my comfort zone was a big deal. Adjusting to my new environment in the banking sector took a lot of courage, but I wanted to return to it and test out my skills in the arena that I studied – finance.

Now I’m a client coach, assisting people to access the services offered at our institution, enabling them to enroll on our digital platform, and ensuring they get the best service. I use the skills I learned at JumpStart every day — listening to people, using technology, staying calm and being patient in a face to face situation where somebody has difficulty understanding a concept, and helping people to follow a process to arrive at their own solution. Even now, I still get encouragement from my previous branch manger and my team leader. They play a huge part in the success of my current job.

Where do you see yourself in 2030?

I’m starting small but shooting high. I want to continue with an honours degree, but my long term aim is a PhD in Finance. We all need to upgrade our skills, so as to improve ourselves and stay relevant. Maybe one day I’ll have my own company?

What advice do you have for JumpStarters?

Don’t focus on making money at this stage of your life. Instead, take this opportunity to gain experience and build your network. We had a wonderful team at Tamaho, encouraging each other as we focused on our own schoolwork. JumpStart is a fantastic chance to be part of an educational programme, your own included. Make use this time in your life to complete your practical training as part of an education degree.

What book have you recently read?

Trevor Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime, is a great story. I like the way he expresses himself, sharing how he grew up. I learnt that no matter how difficult life gets, you as an individual, must encourage yourself.

Surviving Covid19?

I’m lucky to have work, so 70% of my day is spent at the office. Coming home, I love to interact with my three-year-old son. That makes lockdown bearable.

What’s your vision for the alumni programme?

Let’s get going and build a network to motivate each other and see each other grow. Most of us are women, so we are in a perfect environment to build each other up as sisters. We need motivational speakers to keep us focused on our potential. This isn’t your last stop! Go out. Finish your studies. Go on… be big. Like Trevor Noah says: Constantly remind yourself what you want from your life.

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