There are heaps of career prospects for women to choose from nowadays, and limitations on how far women can climb the corporate ladder are nearing extinction. However, in a world driven by capitalism, it is always refreshing to see one choose the path of Academia, more so a young woman in her 20’s. Having recently enrolled to do her Doctorate degree whilst lecturing at the University of Johannesburg, Samantha gives us a glimpse into forging her career in Academia…
Full name: Samantha Huneberg
Current title/company: Lecturer in Commercial Law, University of Johannesburg
Educational background: Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Law (LLB), Master of Law (LLM): Commercial Law – University of Johannesburg
Current city: Johannesburg
What was your first job out of college and how did you land it?
My first job after completing my Masters was working at an innovation consultancy. I ended up there by default as I was struggling to find a job. It was fun and I met a lot of fantastic people but I am someone who needs to be challenged constantly and that is why I then decided to pursue academia.
The year 2013 saw you take the esteemed route of Academia and apply to be a Lecturer in Commercial Law. What inspired you to take this difficult route?
Curiosity.I was never quite sure about what I wanted to do with my life and which direction to take, more so having a Legal background. I always felt pressure to go straight into being an Attorney but I always knew that being a lawyer was not for me. It’s just not my personality. So I decided to look into Academia, just as an option. And to my absolute surprise, it turned out to be the best decision I have ever made!
As a lecturer of Commercial Law, tell us about your responsibilities in this role?
I think most people think being a lecturer is simply pitching up to class and lecturing. That is actually the easiest part of the job! There is a lot of admin that goes into preparing for lectures, as well as drawing up tests, tutorials, assignments and exams. These things take up a lot of time. Then as an academic one has to publish articles, so we are constantly researching and writing as well. Also, by far the most unexciting and possibly the worst thing about being a lecturer is marking. We have 1500 students so marking scripts is extremely tedious but in the bigger scheme of things, it’s not that bad.
How did you ultimately determine the type of career you were most passionate about?
Trial and error. I ended up in Academia not knowing that it was something I definitely wanted to do, but now that I am in it, I couldn’t think of any other career for me. It’s truly the most fulfilling and worthwhile job and I have never been happier!
You are known amongst your friends and family to have a penchant for fashion. How do you balance your personal style with that of a career considered to be traditional and formal?
I am lucky in the sense that the University is not completely corporate and formal. So it leaves space for some creativity and a departure from what one would usually expect in a corporate world. I still dress appropriately for my job but I try bring in my personality with every outfit. Sometimes it’s just adding some cool ankle biker boots to an outfit or wearing my favourite leather jacket over a pretty dress.
Many do not know of the time, labour and continuous learning one has to do as a lecturer, more so as a lecturer of Law. What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your career as a lecturer and how have you been able to overcome them?
Researching for sure – especially now that I am doing my Doctorate. But what’s great is that the other members of the faculty are always willing to give you insight and guidance. Also, if you can find a colleague to co-publish with then that is even better. Getting into publishing becomes far simpler when you have someone with more experienced walk you through it.
What is a typical work day like for you?
I usually go into campus at about 9:30 and then usually have consults with students. If I happen to lecture on that particular day then I will attend that lecture. Otherwise, my days are filled with quite a number of meetings, admin, staying on top of things with the large groups of students we have, and just researching in general.
What is most fulfilling about being a lecturer?
It sounds silly, but definitely the students having that “ah-ha” moment. Nothing is as rewarding as witnessing a student understand a difficult concept! Highlights include having a group of students walk up to you to tell you that you are the reason they passed a particular subject. Moments like these make me realize that I truly have the best job in the world!
Advice for aspiring lecturers?
Consider Academia, it really is a wonderful career if you are someone who enjoys learning. Work hard, work smart and challenge yourself constantly. Enjoy the journey too, we are always so quick to rush into things – yet the journey is half the fun!
Morning or night?
Morning! Being up early for a nice run is the best thing ever.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
Jenna Lyons. She is pretty much my inspiration in fashion and life. What I order would depend on the venue we eat at. Something yummy though, obviously.
I wish I knew how to:
Speak French. One day.
African women are… beautiful and exceptionally talented.
South Africa is… the most beautiful and diverse country in the world. We should appreciate it more.
Worst money mistake… A major blazer phase when I was about 15/16 years old. I spent all my money on blazers. Literally. And they weren’t classic blazers so I couldn’t keep them
Best investment… My Jimmy Choo’s. Without a doubt. They still look amazing and I got them on my 18th birthday.
Motivation in 3 words… Discipline, passion and love.