It may seem a little trite for me to say I feel fortunate to have graduated during one major economic downturn and to have subsequently graduated again during another.
During the period running up to each award ceremony, it was almost impossible to know how to make the best use of my new shiny qualification.
My bachelors graduation took place in 1985 in a decade that heralded huge transformation in industry, commerce, innovation and international trade. My 'lifeboat' career choice was to teach Mathematics to inner city teens - partly to 'give back', partly to continue my 'leisure career' in track & field but mainly because I had few other viable ideas. The world wide web was invented and everything changed again; I switched career following a period of distance learning and embraced the computer age.
Many years, and more changes in work, later I was fortunate to gain a place on WBS' Exec MBA programme, in March 2007. Having finished my dissertation in 2009, with no hint of austerity measures, I quit my job and set up a small consultancy offering business consulting services with a fellow Warwick MBA alum. As a current colleague remarked recently, 'not exactly the best time for a start up, particularly a consultancy startup'. He was right, commissions and assignments were difficult to land; we worked with clients in the UAE, USA and UK occasionally all at the same time, in the same day - it was exhausting, stressful and the most intense period of learning I've experienced.
Many of you will, no doubt, be worried about your fate in the current economic and social climate, wondering if your qualifications actually matter, whether you should take time out or jump at the first opportunity. No-one can really answer the question of 'what should I do?'. My advice is to cherish what you have, draw on and give to your relationships, seek out guides, mentors and role models, don't try to be someone else - be the best you can be in whatever you do.
Above all else, bear in mind that everything you're experiencing today adds to your skills, knowledge and to your ability to change course if that becomes necessary.
Although you are leaving Warwick, your experience of Warwick and the Warwick Alumni network will be with you wherever your career choices lead you; use it.
Good luck to each of you, for what I hope will be an eventful journey.
Inspired to share your own story? Please email alumni at warwick dot ac dot uk