The gowns were hot – and not in a good way, my tie was all over the shop, and there was a lot of clapping to be done.
But it was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of our university graduation day last week.
We swelled with pride to see young people who we’d helped through academic and personal challenges take to the stage with their mortar board-clad heads held high.
Just rocking my new leisurewear range as we celebrate the success of these lovely folk. pic.twitter.com/PPCOMNtFVY
— Paul Wiltshire (@Paulwiltshire) November 23, 2017
But what does the journalism degree they now possess mean?
At a time when every week brings new stories of journalists’ jobs being lost, is that ornate scroll with a £27,000-plus price tag still worth having?
I would say this wouldn’t I, but to me the answer is a resounding yes.
I’m helping some of our third years polish their CVs at the moment, and the process has helped remind me and them just how many skills they will have when they too check out of our care.
Video-shooting and editing, InDesign and Photoshop, writing to deadline, presenting to camera, radio scripting, social media and SEO techniques, and project management will combine with awareness of the law, politics, public relations and the latest industry trends to create a potent cocktail mix of confidence, character and competence.
When journalists move into other sectors they soon realise what valuable and transferable skills they have – even if it’s just the ability to work fast and push the boundaries of tasteful humour.
And it’s the same for journalism students.
We know that more of our graduates are likely to end up working in PR, marketing and social media roles than as traditional journalists.
But their qualification, the crucial soft skills that we have hopefully encouraged in them, and connections they have made on work placements and news days should give them a powerful degree of choice.
Those news days test planning and leadership, stamina and sensitivity, and creativity and judgement.
The day after graduation, I was at the NCTJ’s annual skills conference, hearing from industry figures and discussing how to give our students the best start in life.
I took part in a surprisingly fascinating session on business reporting – a slightly niche area with huge jobs potential.
A senior journalist at the FT talked about how he got into the industry many years ago, and confessed: “I wouldn’t get my job now.”
There was much nodding from all of us.
It underlined to me the comments made by Sky News boss John Ryley at the conference, ridiculing the idea that there was ever a golden era of journalism.
As I have said many times before, today’s journalists are better skilled and harder working than the vast majority of their predecessors.
To me, a journalism degree – provided it is accompanied by a rigorous work placement track record and a positive attitude – is like a Swiss Army knife.
It’s a great toolkit for life.
You never quite know when you’re going to need each bit – but it’s a very useful thing to have in your back pocket.