A company is only as strong as its next generation of skilled employees.

Most organisations hire graduates who have work experience, thus ensuring that their new recruits have a balance of both theoretical and practical experience. This trend, however, leaves a number of post-graduates in a position in which they are unemployable without practical work experience.

Realising this, Ellies decided to be part of the solution and not the problem, and began implementing a means to ensure sustainable, dynamic  careers and futures for young graduates who are academic achievers.

As part of Ellies Engage (the group’s social responsibility initiative) the group committed to a formal learnership and intern programme for post graduate students in 2012.  The initiative started humbly with four students in 2012  but in 2013 has grown immensely, with 67 students enrolled in the programme.

Gary Wiltshire, who heads up the programme for Ellies, says that the company is driven to “create an invigorating, practical environment for interns to further develop their skills, ensuring that they are exposed to as many aspects of business as possible. It is also important to ensure that they are stimulated and mentored in the fundamentals of business and philosophy in order to make consistently sound decisions“.

The programme will now employ selected post-graduate students from the University of the Free State (UFS) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and aims to benefit students in three realms: 1) By providing a business partnership to honours and masters students who are completing a thesis and require practical experience to do so. 2) By offering post-graduates positions in which their skills will be utilised, thus allowing them the space to grow their career in a protected environment in their chosen path rather than accepting positions where their skills are not utilised and honed. 3) By putting students into a nurturing and stimulating business environment that teaches them the art of good decision making and practical work experience.

Reabetswe Parkies, a Business Management post-graduate from UFS says that the Ellies internship programme has been an invaluable experience. “Practically, I learnt so much more about business than I had learnt during my entire term at the university.  The programme has converted all the academic knowledge into industry and corporate skills. Doing research and studying business can only take you so far.  Now that I’ve had the opportunity to actually work in a professional firm, I am learning what real business is all about.

The two aspects I enjoy most about my internship with Ellies are the people and the overall learning experience. I enjoy working with like-minded peers who share the same career ambitions and I’m gaining invaluable insight into business.  I had the chance to work on a client site (as well as with installers) and everybody I have been working with is extremely kind and genuine. So far, it has been a thoroughly fulfilling experience.”

Another intern, Anneke van der Schyff, says: “This past year has definitely challenged and shaped me more than anything I’ve experienced before. I am not the same person I was when I started at Ellies and I’m so grateful for that. This experience has been a personal one for me as I not only gained valuable business exposure, knowledge and practical experience, but it shaped my outlook on life and corporate life, gave me the opportunity to gain valuable self-confidence, to define my values, to develop my listening and communication skills and to learn how to assess and manage others.”

It is not only post-graduates who have benefited from the programme, however.  Wiltshire, who is also a mentor on the programme, says that Ellies has gained and learned from the experience: “We have been blessed by having great young brains pushing us to achieve more and to think out of the box. It is tough being a mentor as you are forced to put your thoughts into a logical pattern to communicate it to your interns. Mentors are also pushed to stay relevant, effective and innovative. To teach is the ultimate way to learn.”

For more information or to apply for the Ellies internship programme, email [email protected]

Who is Ellies?:
Ellies Holdings Limited is a leading South African manufacturer, wholesaler, importer and distributor in diversified sectors, including consumer goods, renewable and energy savings and infrastructural power and telecommunications, servicing the local and African markets.