Helping you to better navigate life's changes. #LoveChange

The midnight ride that made me change my mind about the job I loved

The midnight ride that made me change my mind about the job I loved

There’s something to be said for a 9-to-5.

I felt like a failure, a horrible parent who chose work over her child. I decided I would never let that happen again.

I was only 14 when I fell in love with journalism. A magazine cover of the TV news anchor, Mandlakazi Mpahlwa, grabbed my attention. After reading the article, I was inspired and became her fan.

A few years later, I found myself in a newsroom, thanks to a job-shadowing opportunity initiated by my high school teacher. A year later, I spent a day at a broadcast news studio.

At varsity, I wrote freelance articles for a well-known publication. This led me to a permanent job as a reporter.

And then, after seven years in journalism, I took a leap of faith and opted for a career in public relations.

I promised myself never to return to the newsroom. Journalism gave me recognition, but I felt there was limited room for growth. Moving up the ladder to a position of leadership was unlikely.

I wanted a taste of the communication industry, and a nine-to-five job with occasional work on weekends.

I had just started a family, and my daughter was 19 months old. As a reporter, leaving the office at 5pm was never guaranteed.

One morning in 2016, I was assigned to report on a municipal council meeting, which was meant to start at 10am. However, it started more than an hour late and ended way after midnight.

I drove home from the City Hall, in anticipation that my daughter would be awake upon my arrival. Instead, she was warmly tucked in bed and sleeping peacefully.

I felt like a failure, a horrible parent who chose work over her child. I was upset and went to bed, angry at myself. I decided I would never let that happen again.

A few days later came an offer to work as a communications officer for local government. I was thrilled. There was just one catch.

The job offer was a five-year contract. I had to weigh my options carefully. I would be unemployed after five years, should the contract not be renewed.

It was a tough decision, but after careful consideration, I took the offer. Six years later, I have no regrets.

My job included meeting with prominent individuals and responding to media queries. The opportunity came with a lot of learning, tight deadlines, and quick decision-making.

Watching myself on the news and listening to my voice on podcasts, I took joy from knowing that I was not doing it for myself. Rather, I was sharing the urgent messages that communities needed to hear.

I was proud to see my press statements, press conferences, and events making the news.

There were not-so-happy moments, like the time I had to draft a four-page speech in 60 minutes, a poor media turnout for one of my engagements, and an interview that went wrong.

It took great courage to make the move, but the job allowed me to bond more with my little one, dropping and collecting her from the nursery, and singing along to her favourite songs while driving home. I will forever cherish these memories.

Today I find myself in a different environment, doing what I love most, after a leap of faith that paid off handsomely for me and my family.

Kutlwano Olifant

Change expert, Kutlwano Olifant, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

Related stories

The Change Programme

Are you thinking about making a change? Or trying to make a change? Or dealing with some change that’s happened? Whether you’re getting married or having a baby, moving house or jobs, starting a diet or stopping smoking… the Change Programme is for you.

Start the programme now!

black and white pattern