Letter to graduates

Bhutanese Blogger

“Bhutanese Blogger” left a comment on “Leadership of the Self”, a post targeted at this year’s graduates.  In his comment (don’t ask how I know his gender) – which happens to be a letter he’d posted on his blog last year – he talks about career choices, the need to develop a strong resume, the importance of cultivating useful networks, entrepreneurship and further studies.

These are, indeed, some important issues that our graduates should ponder. So I’m reproducing his comment here to allow graduates to access it easily.

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This was written in 2009. Some figures have changed since then.

Dear Graduates

An unemployment level of 4%, prospects of a smaller civil service and the layoffs in the private sector aren’t good news for you all. Our job market has become more challenging in recent times.

All of you sound incredibly talented and well grounded, and I am sure that your expectations are realistic. You don’t normally graduate again. So take some time to assess where you want to go on from here but be ready to be disappointed in your search.

For many reasons, everybody aspires to work in the civil service. Yes – it provides wide ranging opportunities – from attending to the public to working on a national policy – but you can also become a clone (a typical civil servant who is satisfied with life). So be sure that you have good networking skills – they are useful at all stages and places. You should also have a huge supply of tolerance and patience to see you through long meetings, demanding bosses and people who complain how inefficient civil servants are. If you have good ideas – better. If you don’t have any – be open and willing to explore. Work hard, voice your thoughts and take initiatives (although these may not be demanded of you). Avoid the temptation of being a ‘YES’ man and develop a reputation for delivering results.

But if you are entrepreneurial and enjoy working really hard, consider working for a private company or starting something new. All you need is a good idea and a lot of passion. You will develop commercial skills that will place you well to take advantage of our economy which is being liberalised. And Bhutan needs more entrepreneurs. With our Government committed to developing the sector, the opportunities will only increase.

Another option is to go for higher studies but personally, I think, a few years of working experience makes pursuing a post-graduate degree more enriching. And you could still be looking for work after three years.

But if you aren’t interested in any of these, there is yet another career path you could choose –

You have a degree and qualify to to represent your people in the national assembly. Network and develop your political capital. Go home and establish your credentials. I hear that being an MP isn’t a difficult job. My convictions come from desiring to see or hear of something substantial done by the MPs. I could be wrong. But you have a good opportunity to prove that MPs need more talents than just the ability to be either garrulous in their arguments or subservient in their conduct.

Finally as you start looking for jobs, enhance your CV either by volunteering your time or learning something new. Now is the time to meet people, question and learn as much as you can. As you mature – you are expected to know something and lose that liberty to ask questions.

And maintain lots of positivity and modest levels of overconfidence (overconfidence does help).

All the best.