Bridget Mashego is excited about her new job as assistant lecturer at CA Connect. Through the Assistant Lecturer and Academic Trainee Programme (ALT), aspiring Chartered Accountants who have recently graduated can, while channeling their energy into building the next generation of accountants, explore a alternative to traditional trainee programmes and career paths into the corporate world.
Even though Bridget Mashego, 31, has only been in her new position as Assistant Lecturer (AL) at CA Connect for six months, she is already loving the job. “I am really enjoying engaging with students,” she says, “It has been so fulfilling for me and I can see a future here for me.”
Bridget wants to become a CA – she completed her PGDA in 2021 and is waiting for the results from her first ITC board exam – but she’s not sure if she wants to work in the corporate world. “That is a high-pressure environment. The more you progress, the more responsibilities you get, which means overtime and putting clients first. It is a never-ending cycle,” she says. “There is very little time for yourself and your family.”
She adds, “The struggles I encountered on my academic journey is what drew me to the AL role. I know how much work goes into it, the disappointment that comes with failing and that some students need help.”
Bridget has a small child and enjoys the more flexible hours of the AL position. But what really provides her with job satisfaction, is helping others. “I wanted to inspire others to stay the course, to look at me and see a reflection of themselves through me. I want them to look up to me when they are down and have the courage to get back up, because if I could fall several times and get back up, so can they.”
“I want to work closely with students because they will be able to relate to me as I have been through what they are going through. I am passionate about helping students through their PGDA year because of my experiences, and this role provides a platform for me to provide students with a unique support.”
Leon Gazet Du Chattelier, Chief People Officer at Milpark Education, says the Assistant Lecturing Training Programme came about as a result of an industry need to attract and retain young professionals into academia. “We haven’t reinvented the wheel – there are other academic trainee programmes like this out there – but what we have done differently is to create assistant lecturing positions in conjunction with the more traditional academic trainee roles.”
Many of Milpark Education’s students have already done the required training programme work experience because of working full-time while studying. Like Bridget, many of the students have their articles signed off but have yet to finish their CTA studies. “The assistant lecturers bring technical knowledge and practical work experience into their roles but most importantly are really able to empathise with what the students are going through, this often translates into practical advice and support that helps the students they are teaching,” says Leon.
Assistant lecturers take on different responsibilities as part of their roles; these include one-on-one interactions with students, creating learning content, reviewing assessments, developing student assessment feedback, running or supporting student live sessions or group discussions. Leon says that although this is the first year the ALT programme is being implemented, it’s already addressing a crucial and often unmet need in academia. “It is easy to find technical experts, but it is harder to find technical experts who understand what students are going through, and to whom the students can easily relate and connect to.”
Bridget truly understands the struggles many CA Connect students face. She started doing the PGDA at CA Connect in 2021 with a three-month-old baby, while working full-time. She battled to complete her studies, faced repeating exams and interruptions in her tertiary degree due to pressures at work.
She also knows how lonely both the professional and academic path can be, and importance of having peers and mentors you can relate to. “We need more diversity in this profession. I wanted to see more black men and women in the boardroom when I was working in corporate,” she says. “It is the same with academia – we need more black lecturers who understand what students are going through. There aren’t enough black CAs who can act like mentors, to show others it can be done.”
This is one part of why Bridget is thinking of staying on as a lecturer after qualifying as a CA, the other is the environment itself. “The thing I like about Milpark – not only from a student but also from a staff perspective – is the culture of genuine caring. That is why I love being in this space: we live out our company values, we don’t just have them pasted on the wall.”