After a BSC in computer science and business computing, Tshiamo Motsoane decided to do her honour’s degree in Information Systems as she enjoys the role information technology plays in business as a whole.
Her undergraduate degree, with three years in archaeology, as well as biology, physics and maths, paved the way for a multi-disciplinary approach to IT. Her choice of honour’s research project reflects this wider view of how technology works. Her project dealt with privacy concerns relating to instant messaging notification features and how this affects the way people use the technology, incorporating psychological and behavioural issues.
“In social media, studies show that even people who have privacy concerns about sharing information, still tend to share that information. So I have been looking at that in terms of instant messaging…. You can easily keep track of a person’s activities.”
As well as the statistical data collected, Tshiamo interviewed people about their use of these instant messaging apps and she discovered several ‘tricks’ people use to bypass the technology’s invasion of their privacy. Some people read messages on their smart watches as this doesn’t immediately show that they have been read, while others will read from their notification panel, and yet others will switch off their data and wi-fi to avoid the notifications being sent.
“Most of the honour’s research topics aren’t just straightforward IT,” says Tshiamo.
Another interesting part of the honour’s programme is the community service component. Tshiamo helped teach Grade 9 to 11 learners to code. This taught her flexibility as some of the groups needed help with basic computing skills, while others needed facilitation to study more independently.
“You come there prepared to teach a coding lesson, and you teach something entirely different.”
Next year she returns to Johannesburg, where she already has a position with Standard Bank. After interning with them during the June holidays, she applied for the Group IT Graduate Programme. During her internship, which doubled as an in-depth interview, Tshiamo worked with the African regions department. She had wanted to go into corporate investment banking but found that projects with other African countries were much more appealing. “Lots of different personalities and a mixture of cultures, so I changed my application to Africa regions.”
After learning how to program in high school, Tshiamo never considered studying anything else.
“While I was at UCT, I realised that IT is not just computer science… I enjoy having a diverse IT background.”