For the Class of 2020, the world may suddenly feel like an unpredictable, topsy-turvy place.
As students prepare to graduate, however, they can take solace in knowing they are not the first class to face such uneasy times.
Back in 2009, Babson graduates confronted a job market wrecked by the Great Recession, the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. “I had originally chosen Babson because the vast majority of seniors had jobs before graduation,” says Jeff Brayer ’09. “In 2009, that wasn’t the case.”
Alumni from the Class of 2009 recently took a moment to reflect on their experiences and offer advice to the Class of 2020. Yes, these are difficult days, alumni say, but students have the skills and the network to thrive. “Stay positive,” says Jancy Yang ’09. “I have no doubt you all will have an epic Back to Babson reunion once this passes.”
An Uncertain Summer
For sure, the summer after graduation was a time of frustration and delay for many in the Class of 2009. Brayer returned to the construction work he had done in previous summers before finally finding a full-time job in October, while Gail Noronha ’09 found herself living with her parents in an unfamiliar city, Toronto, after her job offer in Boston fell through. Left with no professional network in Toronto, she wasn’t able to land a job for months. “It was not easy,” she says.
Alumni did their best to make the most of an imperfect situation, and they advise the Class of 2020 to do the same. “Stop worrying about the next step and just breathe,” says Johanna Delaney ’09. She worked at a local ice cream shop that summer and spent many days at the beach. Yang, meanwhile, spent the summer catching up on sleep. “I felt like I barely slept at Babson because there was always something to do,” she says. Both ramped up their job search in the fall feeling revitalized and found employment in short order.
The Weeks Ahead
In the weeks ahead, the Class of 2009 advises this year’s graduates to look to each other. “Although these final weeks are not what you imagined or hoped for, hold on tight to the relationships you’ve made at Babson,” says Delaney. “They’ll withstand the test of time.” Eric Yang ’09 agrees. “Shared suffering is never pleasant, but it has bonded you all together,” he says. “So rely on each other, help each other.”
“Know that you’re not alone. You have the entire Babson community behind you, rooting for you, and waiting to support you in any way.”
Gail Noronha ’09
As students make their way after graduation, the Class of 2009 told them to remember where they came from. “Entering a job market during a recession brings a lot of uncertainty, but we all know how to navigate uncertainty from our time at Babson,” says Jancy Yang. “Entrepreneurship is in our DNA. It’ll just take a bit more creativity and problem-solving skills to navigate this challenging environment.”
With that Babson education comes something critical: the Babson community. “Know that you’re not alone,” says Noronha. “You have the entire Babson community behind you, rooting for you, and waiting to support you in any way.”
Again and again, alumni advised current students to reach out to alumni, even if they don’t know them. Find them on LinkedIn. Ask them for a chat. “Networking is essential to your career success,” says Andre Roman ’09, “and know that Babson alumni are always willing to help a fellow Beaver.”
This Will Pass
The events of 2009 are now more than a decade ago. Likewise, say alumni, the worry and disarray of 2020 will pass one day.
“When we face difficulties, we think that things will never get better, but the truth is, as long as we keep at it, are honest, and work hard, good things will happen,” says Renan Prodocimo ’09. “That’s just how life goes.”
Looking back on 2009, some alumni have come to realize that the difficulties of that year helped shape the people they are today. “As difficult as that year was, I am extremely grateful for it,” says Noronha. “It taught me resilience, determination, and persistence in a way I had never experienced before. These are qualities that have carried me through very good and very difficult times in my life.”
Posted in Adapting, Together