Three ways new alumni can thrive in crises

Rudy Karsan (BMath ’79) is a managing partner and director at Karlani Capital. As the former CEO and co-founder of Kenexa, he’s passionate about creating careers that matter and revolutionizing the global human resource space. Karsan’s TEDx talk, “The Future of Work,” has been viewed more than 280,000 times. The following is an excerpt from a virtual fireside chat between Karsan and Norah McRae, the University’s associate provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education. The virtual event was held in June to mark the convocation of the Faculty of Mathematics 2020 class.

To those of you who have a job … and you know where you’re going, ‘Congratulations. That’s a great feeling.’ … To the rest, I would also say, ‘Congratulations.’ In a funny sort of way, I’m a little bit envious and let me explain why.

Life is really interesting in that crises happen and we get scared. Fear is one of our biggest drivers … We know that when we are fearful, we either fight, flee or freeze. In this situation, if you freeze, you will die. By that I mean if you decide to go to your parents’ house and hunker down, life is going to be really tough for you. If you choose to fight for a job, 25 per cent of you will get one. What happens to the others? What are you going to flee to? Where are you going to go?

I believe you have three choices.

The first choice is to serve … serve with abandon. Serving is the elixir of humanity. Canada is probably the strongest civil society on the planet. What a tremendous opportunity for you, as you leave the womb of your parents and your school, to really taste the joy of serving.

Your second choice is to say, ‘I am going to shift my paradigm from finding a job to finding work and I’m going to find that work by creating a series of tasks and many jobs, whether it is helping my neighbour walk a dog – and that’s not beneath me by the way – or driving an Uber, and that’s not beneath me either because I am working. And I string together a group of many jobs that will ultimately help me navigate what will ultimately be
my career.

My final choice is to start a company. Or find a friend to start a company with. Really those are my three flee choices right now. And if you really, really focus on these three, you can start to develop a game plan.

I would end by saying the view is difficult and rewarding. Because even though life sucks right now, in order to lead a great life, stress
is the entry ticket into it and you’ve got gobs of it right now. So, to the Class of 2020, the ones who haven’t found a job, I would say, ‘Congratulations. You are truly beginning your life.’ I’m a little bit envious that, what I learned in my 30s, you get a chance to learn in your 20s. 


Watch the full fireside chat with Rudy Karsan (BMath ’79) and Norah McRae: