Convocation, Careers and the Art of Transition

president and student at convocation

There is no time at the University of Waterloo like convocation. I have had the honour of joining the celebrations of many thousands of students during my time as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waterloo and it truly never gets old.

A Time of Celebration and Transition

Convocation is a time of celebration, reflection and transition. This week we will be celebrating the accomplishments of our students. We’ll celebrate the completion of their degrees and their triumphs – big and small – that added to their experience of Waterloo.

These experiences set our graduates apart. They have received one of the most rigorous and extensive educations offered around the world, recognized for its excellence across all corners of the globe, and gained a deep sense of resilience out of this challenging experience. Convocation marks a time of transition and all of the excitement that comes along with taking the next step in our lives.

Stay Adaptive

To our students: remember the lessons you learned throughout your academic career. Not just the lessons in the classroom or out on co-op work terms, but the skills you gained budgeting your time, building relationships and taking on additional opportunities with your clubs and business ventures. These skills will be essential as you face a future of fundamental disruption.

The next fifteen years will be defined by a series of disruptive forces that will create unprecedented change and numerous opportunities. For example, do any of us really know today what will happen as we expand the presence of artificial intelligence in our world?

Upwards of 30 per cent of jobs and occupations that exist right now are at the risk of automation due to AI by the middle of the 2030s, according to a recent report from the World Economic Forum (WEF). But it’s not all doom and gloom – the WEF forecasts that robotics alone will create 133 million jobs over that same period. These are jobs that do not yet exist and that you will have a hand in inventing or shaping through your career.

Entire industries will be created in the first decade of your new careers. This kind of future may seem daunting, but you have gone through change during your academic career, leveraging that experience will be integral as you adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

I hope that you stay adaptive and rooted in who you are, where you came from and what you are capable of accomplishing.

Stay Connected

There will be more than 210,000 University of Waterloo alumni in 153 countries who have crossed the convocation stage after this week. We are a powerful, impactful and caring community.

I urge all of our new alumni to stay connected and engaged with your university. We are here whenever you need us and look to you to be our connection to an ever-changing world. Don’t wait for someone else to create something. Be curious. Be adaptive. Be leaders. Be the creators driving the change.

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