January 24, 2013

Winter Graduation: Everybody's Free (to wear hats and gloves)

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/alumni/

Suit up Graduates at the University of Warwick
Suit up: BSc students graduating in 2008.

Graduation is as much about reflection as it is a point to embark upon your chosen career. My start to university life, in 1999, happened in a fairly good year:

  • The first new Star Wars film in 16 years had just been released
  • the Millennium (not Falcon) celebrations were only a few months away (and we really did party like it was 1999)
  • and Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’ had recently done well on the ‘hit parade’.

The song, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a spoken word essay, by the film director, to the "ladies and gentlemen of the Class of '99.” It would be a few years before I graduated but some of Luhrmann’s advice has stuck with me to this day, especially his words on sunscreen.

I’m not a Warwick alumnus but I’ve several friends who graduated from the University of Warwick so I asked them (and alumni on LinkedIn) what knowledge, like Baz, they would like to impart on the ‘ladies and gentleman of the Class of 2013’. Here’s what they had to say:

Luda Begley née Anestiadi, writer and freelance translator, San Antonio, Texas. Luda completed a master's degree in Creative Writing with distinction, Warwick Writing Programme (2008-2009).

“Once you leave our dear bubble, don't lose that spirit, motivation and enthusiasm you began your studies with. Always remember why you came to Warwick in the first place and follow that goal. And once the ceremony is over, go give a hearty hug to your tutors; trust me, the more time passes after you graduate, the more you realise how much they deserved it!”

Richard Casey, Director, Chapter 1 Executive Recruitment. Richard studied Chemistry (1983 – 1986).

“My advice would be for those candidates heading into industry (non-academia) to get a good grounding with a big organisation first. You can easily head out to a smaller firm later in life but it's very difficult to head the other way. Also, unless you are absolutely passionate about it, think carefully about the rush for investment banking: the salaries are normalising somewhat and those who work there regard it as less fun than it was even ten years ago.”

Jonathan Goggs, Alumni Engagement Intern at the University of Warwick. Jonathan graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) in Politics with International Studies (2012).

“In this job market, I'm reminded of that classic quote from the Simpsons to sum up graduation: “Freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom!

“My advice to those following non-conventional career paths would be brand yourself, find your specialism, and work your way towards making yourself indispensable at your organisation. And don't be dispirited!”

Andrew Steel, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Veritas Traducción y Comunicación, S.L. MBA, DipTransIoLET, BA (Hons), MCIL, MITI. Madrid Area, Spain. Andrew graduated with a BA (Hons) in Film and literature (1990-1993).

“Become a master of principles, not policy. Act on principles, not policy. Live by principles, not policy.” (Quoting author Jeffrey Gitomer).

Ian Cotgias, ESG and Other Risk Capital Manager at Friends Life Group. Ian studied MORSE: Mathematics, Operations Research, Statistics and Economics (1988 – 1991).

“Listen and learn from your colleagues in whatever path you choose to follow. Also, be proactive and take responsibility for [yourself]. I say this because graduates can be distinguished by those that expect everything to be done to them without input from themselves (i.e. training, communication, promotion) - they are often the least happy in their jobs. Then there are those that arrange to have coffee with senior members of the organisation and work to understand what's going on, where they can fit in and this allows them to build a picture of what they want to do. You'll be surprised how approachable seemingly unapproachable colleagues can be and how much of a leg up that can give you.”

Good luck to you all, wherever you choose to go and whatever you choose to do…and trust Baz on the sunscreen.


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