Matsobane Steven Motena, Interpretative Officer and Guide at University of Pretoria Museums

Posted on June 08, 2022

Matsobane Steven Motena, Interpretative Officer and Guide at UP Museums tells Tukkievaria how he chose his career at an early age.

Tell us about yourself

I’m Matsobane Steven Motena, I was born on 18 June 1994 and raised in Alexandra Township in Johannesburg, South Africa. There are six children in my family and I am the fifth, the first child to graduate. I attended my high school in Alexandra Secondary School and that is when I fell in love with history as a subject. I was awarded the Vincent Tshabalala Education Trust Bursary to pursue my studies. In 2016, I enrolled at the University of Pretoria and I am proudly holding an undergraduate, honours and master’s degree in Heritage and Cultural Tourism, and I was fortunate to be awarded two scholarships to successfully complete my postgraduate studies, namely Department of Arts and Culture and Mellon Scholarships. I am currently enrolled for a doctorate degree in Heritage and Cultural Tourism, funded by the Mellon Scholarship.

Why did you choose your career? Or did it choose you?

I would say the career chose me because since a young age, I have always been the one interested in my family history. In high school, I liked to share my knowledge with other learners by voluntarily tutoring. I was also a mentor and tutored for three years at the University of Pretoria at the same time as being a tourist guide. Throughout these personal stories, I realised that this career chose me because I love to share my knowledge basically as a tutor and tourist guide. Finally, the intention is to take it further by becoming an academic researcher in the fields of history, heritage and culture.

What are the challenges that youth face in the world of work?

Many youth obtain their qualifications without any work-related experience and it becomes a challenge. In most cases, youth unemployment is a pandemic. Employment opportunities are very rare, and even worse for graduates who don’t have related competencies skills.

How did you manoeuvre these challenges?

By trying to obtain skills and competencies related to my studies so that I stand a good chance compared to other graduates. For an example, I first became a tourist guide at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre while I was doing my final year before finishing my degree. After my degree, I obtained more experience as a tourist guide through University of Pretoria Campus Tours and the Javett Art Centre. These experiences became one of my competencies required when I was given an internship at the University of Pretoria Museums as an interpretative officer and guide.

What should be done to support young people in the workplace?

Young people need to be continuously trained to learn new skills and obtain more relevant soft and hard skills. The youth in the workplace need to be mentored and be given space to try new ideas and express their opinion freely. Moreover, they need to be supported in their failure so that they can see them as learning experiences and not see themselves as failures.

What is the biggest misconception about young people in the workplace?

Young people are mostly perceived as being lazy and not hard workers. Most experienced employees and employers have the biggest misconception that young people are arrogant, especially when they coming up with innovative ideas. They are usually seen as unexperienced employees and they cannot make a contribution to the workplace, while the reality is that the combination of experienced or older people and young people with lack of experience is what is needed to make the company succeed.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I see myself as one of the best tourist guides in South Africa, with published academic research to add to an existing knowledge in the fields of history, heritage and culture. I see myself as continuously sharing my knowledge and giving back to the community.

- Author Tukkievaria 3 June 2022
Published by Lelani van den Berg

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