What to do? You’re a young, intelligent, enthusiastic, problem solving civil engineer and, after four years of study and years of practical experience, you now find yourself staring into the abyss of public spending cuts, project cancellations and recruitment freezes.
Jobs are going to get harder to find in the UK civils market and even if you already have one, it is more likely to be focused around maintaining existing assets rather than the more glamorous new build schemes.
But do you want responsibility, reward, new challenges, adventure and excitement? Do you want to see you career advancing rapidly and your earning potential climbing even faster?
The answer is simple - get yourself out to Iraq with one of the global infrastructure firms now breaking into this new market and start nation-building.
As this week’s Middle East feature points out, there’s over £200bn already slated to be spent rebuilding the infrastructure destroyed by 25 years of war and international sanctions and given that oil revenues are flowing again, this is likely to be just a start.
OK, maybe Iraq is a step too far for most. Clearly there are a few more security issues to bear in mind compared to a career based in Surrey, Birmingham, Manchester or Glasgow.
Perhaps then you might think about a posting to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Egypt, all of which have massive government backed infrastructure expansion plans.
And without foreign engineering assistance, they will struggle to meet the demands of their ambitious programmes.
And if these are still too remote for you then you could do worse than look towards the still booming markets of Abu Dhabi, Qatar or Oman where traditional oil and gas revenues continue to drive growth.
“For many civil engineering firms, international markets must be seen as crucial to future success”
The reality is that for many UK civil engineering firms such international markets - new and old - must be seen as crucial to future success. And the evidence is that for most, this renewed focus has already begun.
It has to. Because here in the UK, there is certainly good reason for a degree of gloom regarding the prospects for infrastructure- related spending over the next few years. Already we are seeing local transport investment freezes and next week’s Budget is unlikely to contain much to raise a smile.
Fortunately a posting in Iraq isn’t practical or desirable for every civil engineer because, despite the downturn, we are still going to need some of the brightest, most experienced engineering minds on the job here.
There is still a realisation by the coalition that the UK must invest in maintaining transport systems, enhancing power supplies and kick-starting regeneration of vital new population centres.
The new trick, of course, will be to do all this with much less direct public funding.
So managing this reality - and our ability to bring in private sector skills and financing to fill the gap - will be one of the keys to our success over the next few years and will be crucial if we are to get our economy back on track. Only the best need apply.