Congratulations on completing your O-level and A-level! 2020 was hectic for everyone but more so for the examination classes. Due to the pandemic restrictions there was very little contact between teachers and learners, a huge gap filled with so much confusion and uncertainty between beginning of the academic calendar and the end of it early this year and of course not forgetting hurricane online learning. No one was prepared for that financially, socially and even geographically. To say the least, it has been a messy journey. COVID-19 brought about countless challenges but here you are. You made it, you conquered, you are truly heroes. So what’s next?

After O-levels one could argue that A-level is the next obvious bus to hop on to, but is it really? While it is the most common popular option it’s not really the only piece of bread on the table. There are various if not endless avenues one can explore. For example, polytechnics which offer diploma programs. In Zimbabwe almost all major cities have one of these and the good thing about polytechnic is that you can get in with just your O-level results! The other attractive aspect of polytechnics is that they equip students with more hands on skill as opposed to being largely theoretical.

Besides polytechnics, one could also go the apprenticeship route. So with apprenticeship you work and learn at the same time! It’s often called on-the-job-training with accompanying study. So you don’t have to wait for three, four or five years of studying then start working. You start working and earning right away. Now how cool is that, probably something I could have done if I had had the opportunity or read an article like this one. Some of the companies that offer apprenticeship in Zimbabwe include ZESA, NRZ, Telone, Hwange Colliery Company, Chibuku Breweries, Amtec Motors, Mimosa Mining and many more. Basically any company has room for interns, all you need to do is approach them. If this is something that has stolen your fancy why don’t you head on to your company of choice and find out more information.

Then of course there is university the route that I personally took. However, for this option you definitely need to have done your A-levels or holding a diploma from a recognised institution. As of 2020, one needs to have at least six points to be eligible to apply to the University of Zimbabwe and then each department in the various faculties has its own cut off points. Probably the most attractive perk of this option is that you get a degree instead of a diploma at the end of your study period. There are quite a number of universities in Zimbabwe the common ones being University of Zimbabwe (UZ), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Midlands State University (MSU), Africa University (AU), Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT).

Lastly there is something called a gap year where one just takes some time out to breathe! Yes, that could actually be an option. What do they say? Look before you leap, a gap year will give one all the time they need to look and then leap when they are best prepared. There have been countless dropouts in tertiary institutions because of hurried decisions made that landed someone in programme they weren’t really passionate about or could not handle. So yes if you need time, take some time its allowed.

What’s next? There is plenty, you are actually spoiled for choice! And if you are female in or interested in STEM, let Tea in 60 be your travel companion. Visit the following website to find out more about the mentorship programs offered and sign up to be a mentee!

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Tea in 60 is a community that seeks to bring about the much needed practical one-on-one conversations between girls interested in STEM and women already in the field. In one hour, girls in high school, as well as those that are in or have just finished tertiary education will have an opportunity to discuss anything they want in the career of their choosing with a selected mentor.