Alumni Spotlight

Shaping My Destiny: Occupational Therapist, Zizipho, on Joining the Health Sector

Earning a university degree gives many young South Africans the opportunity to reach the goals they set out for themselves. After graduating with a degree in Occupational Therapy, Dell Young Leaders alum Zizipho Xeketwana worked in the medical insurance industry before starting her dream job as an Occupational Therapist in the healthcare industry.

Below, she unpacks some of the steps she took to get to where she is today, talks about her future aspirations in the workplace, and provide tips on how to transition from graduation into meaningful employment.

Q: What is it that you currently do, and why are you passionate about what you do?

I love what I do! I currently work as an Occupational Therapist in the mental health cluster at a private clinic.

I love equipping individuals with the skills to empower themselves in their own lives – whether from a mental or physical health perspective. I like being able to help patients realize that, whether they had a stroke or have depression for example, they can still have hope.

Q: What are some of the key steps you took to get to where you are in your career?

Having the spirit of not giving up on my goals! When I look back at university, it was not always easy. I had to work really hard to focus on my studies and accept the help of people around me. When things from back home affected me, I learned to take care of myself and have the self-awareness of what my challenges are and how they can serve as an asset.

It’s also important to be more accepting of what comes your way. After graduating, and before my employment at the clinic, I had a career detour, that ultimately helped me get to where I wanted to be today. We often have this idea in your minds of where we would like to be in our careers, and we forget that it might not always work out that way. It is very easy to give up when experiencing a detour, but you have to view these experiences as learnings.

For example, being in medical insurance, I learnt a lot about different diagnoses, and grew as a professional in the work environment which made me into the Occupational Therapist that I am today.

It is very easy to give up when experiencing a detour, but you have to view these experiences as learnings that help you get to where you ultimately want to be.

Zizipho Xeketwana

Q: Lastly, given your experience at university and professionally, what are some of the tips you practice for good mental and physical health?

Firstly, it’s important to realise that taking care of yourself looks very different for each person – do what works best for you. For me, I always try and move my body, even if it’s just for 15-minutes as it has so many benefits. I also try and do something that makes me happy – whether your thing is yoga or art – and eat healthy and nutritious meals. Then, be mindful of your thoughts, concerns and worries – I like to journal and write them down. Lastly, take time to rest and get enough sleep.

Overall, I challenge the narrative that taking care of yourself and doing things you love is selfish. Make sure you fill your own cup before you can fill someone else’s cup!

With the Shaping My Destiny Series, Dell Young Leaders alumni share what they have managed to achieve to date, and how they have created their own paths and goals for the future. They also share a few highlights of how current Dell Young Leaders students can make use of the programme so they can create successful futures for themselves.