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Thoughts of a new graduate

2015 graduate Christine Lauth, MSc, International Business, gave an inspiring speech at the 2015 Aarhus BSS Graduation on 2 October 2015.

Christine Lauth (MSc, International Business, ´10)

Graduate Christine Lauth shares with you her thoughts on studying at Aarhus BSS, the technological evolution and looking to the future.

Hello everyone,

I want to take you back to my first day here. Being formally greeted, then walking to the classroom excited to meet my new fellow students. Walking into the room we were blown away by the tones of Toybox’s Tarzan & Jane blasting out of the speakers. We were all in complete shock! Welcome to the next 5 years of your life!

And here we are today, gathered in a slightly more sophisticated setting.

Over the years there have been ups and downs. I will admit that after failing my first statistics exam I had my doubts about whether or not I would actually make it this far. Based on the rumors around campus I wasn’t the only one in this situation so I’m sure even some of you present here today can recognize that feeling. Luckily that was the low point of my academic career and today is about celebrating that we accomplished something and we can be proud of that.

Along with the joy and pride of graduating there is a scary little thought that keeps popping up, the thought of the future. Because what's to become of us from here? We've all been part of this educational system where there was always a next step ahead. Always something new to start after the summer break. But not anymore. Now we're faced with the real world and that can be a little scary if you ask me.

In spite of this uncertainty I believe there is hope for us. We are the last kids of Generation Y and that’s not a bad thing because that means that we’re optimists who believe in ourselves and our abilities to create our own future. On the less positive side of things concerning our generation it is said that we are selfish and that we are the most high-maintenance generation ever to enter the workforce. Now can that really be true?

Looking to Generation X before us and their traits they were known for being pragmatic and following the rules. Working towards achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Getting the job done. A little dull if you ask me. Almost sounds like they were trying to get through five years at university!

But luckily for us we are not our parents and we leave here with a very different view of the world. We've grown up in a time with massive technological development that has just been a natural given circumstance. We’ve grown up learning to continuously adapt to new development. We’re the generation who is willing to stand in line to be the first to get the new iPhone. My mum has only recently discovered smileys as an option in her text messages!

The technological evolution has also made the world smaller in so many ways. During my time here I've been fortunate enough to spend time in both China and the U.S. and when you think about it, it’s really a privilege to get the opportunity to experience other cultures even before graduating. And when you travel you realize that culture goes all the way down to little everyday things. Like what we eat. Coming from a country like Denmark with meatballs and rice pudding it takes a little, shall we say adjustment, when faced with a selection of animal’s feet in China. Or a small thing like how we transport ourselves. I’ve experienced the extremes from biking around Aarhus to jumping on an over-crowded subway in Beijing to hitting the U.S. highway in my own car. The sum of all these little experiences and differences is what enables us to better understand other cultures and what pushes our limits and develops us.

I know many of you have also taken the opportunity to study abroad, do an international internship or even just take advantage of that nice long university vacation to travel and explore the world. I think internationalization is really a key word for my time here at Aarhus University. I’ve had the pleasure of studying with people from all over the world and get their insights on different topics as well as their culture. Studying with someone from a different culture actually also makes you more aware of your own culture because you realize that some of our rituals may seem odd to someone who has not been brought up with them. I believe the Danish Christmas parties are quite the experience for many foreign students the first time they attend one. Apart from the contribution my fellow international students have made, the university’s choice of having an international faculty and ensuring international perspectives in our teaching has also contributed greatly to a global outlook.

There is no doubt that we're left with a world of opportunities but also with a world of choice. No longer do we just have to find out what we want to do (which if you ask me is challenging enough) but also where we want to do it. Not to mention that we're now facing a global labor market and therefore have to be very skilled to stand out in the global pool of candidates.

But actually I'm not too worried. I have confidence in us and believe that we can do it. That might sound like a cliché. Because apart from being selfish, as some will say about our generation, they also say that we will be very hard working and dedicated, that we believe we can make a better life for ourselves and that we will contribute to changing the way companies operate today. I think this optimism is true and I believe that we step out in the world with an ability to understand the complexity of globalization and how it impacts everything. Graduating from an institution such as Aarhus University I believe that we are left curious on the world and with an ability to adapt to what is required from us whether we stay in Denmark or end up abroad somewhere. The world is open to us.

In contrast to past generations we are ambitious not only on our future careers but also on our lives. We want to enjoy life and strike a work-life-fun balance as opposed to just work-life. If this is what the experts call selfish, then so be it. Because I think this desire makes us creative and confident. It makes us eager to actually make a difference in the workplace. I think these abilities will bring us forward in life.

On a concluding note I want to share with you what my dad shared with me on the day of my thesis defense. Being greeted by friends and family I expressed my relief that I was done with the last exam of my life after all these years of schooling, preparation and the stressful exam periods. My dad gave me a hug and said to me “that’s great, honey, but just remember one thing. Out there, in the corporate world, every day is an exam!” I hope that’s only part of the truth – I believe that our generation will find a way to bring the fun with us on this side of graduation as well.

I want to congratulate all of you on your graduation, I want to thank all of my fellow students and the faculty for making my time here special and I want to wish you all the best for the future.

Thank you!


- Christine Lauth