Planning is for sissies. If you want to really get all there is out of life, learn to adapt.
While achieving some lofty goals may require that you plan every last detail, planning as a college student is, generally, a waste of time – especially when seeking internships. Throw caution to the wind and embrace a little chaos by intentionally putting yourself in situations where you are clueless.
When looking at internships, some people enter college believing that they know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives and develop a tunnel-vision plan that will get them where they want to be at that time. However, you will change as you experience life and your goals and priorities will likely follow suit.
You can’t predict how you will evolve – this is just one of the main reasons that I strongly advise that you resist the urge to plan it all out. It can be scary to not have a defined next step, but it could be worth that small price.
Think about your self-identity in grade school and then compare that to high school and where you are now. I’d be willing to bet there are some major shifts in thought processes during that time – unless you happen to be stuck in some sort of a Freudian life-stage loop, in which case, I wish you luck. But this is not my only argument against planning.
Let us consider your own experiences once again. How many times has an opportunity seemingly materialized out of the blue that, in hindsight, was revolutionary to your world at the time? How would your life be different if you did not answer when opportunity knocked?
Planning can make you quite myopic or, dare I say, intellectually lazy. That’s right. I went there – for those of you who craft a plan and adhere to it as if was mandated by your respective deity.
I feel that it would be appropriate to quote my grandmother, a devout Catholic. “John, God laughs at those who plan,” she has told me more than once. That is because in her 80-some years, she has seen some of the best-laid plans crumble.
If you are solely focused on your almighty plan, you may be blind or otherwise unwilling to change that plan because it is simply easier to stay the course. This is a mistake and will close off some potentially awesome experiences for you.
After all, the worst decisions often make the best stories for a reason. That’s why we learn from them and can share the knowledge gained from having to adapt.
Often, you will be surprised at your own ability to acclimate to a situation, but you have to give yourself the chance. Because you are forced to think more in unfamiliar situations, you will more likely value and understand yourself better.
This is my true point: You should seek to understand yourself, especially what makes you happy at a core level while understanding that you will change with time. I’ll offer you some of my own experience as an example of why not to plan.
Two months before getting my highest-paying and arguably most resume-nourishing experience as a procurement co-op at a major pharmaceuticals company, I had no idea what I was going to do for that summer. I was desperately seeking something to occupy my time and it just so happened that I struck gold there.
Going into it, I didn’t even know what procurement was. Now, I think it is a great career option that would allow me to deal with multiple operating areas of a company, while constantly using my noggin.
Had I planned more, I likely never would have even applied for that position, which has enabled me to put aside some money and broaden my view of the corporate, nay, professional world. I now better understand how different functions actually work within an organization and am much more marketable.
Recently, Fox School of Business, of which I am a student, held its annual Senior Reception, where employers come to meet soon-to-be grads. I was in attendance and found myself speaking with employers knowledgably about procurement positions—while most recruiters were surprised that I knew what it was.
Honestly, I didn’t plan much to begin with because of a lack of understanding how to. Nonetheless, I’m kind of happy that I didn’t. If I had planned more, I likely wouldn’t have met the people that I did and forged the relationships, both professionally and otherwise, that I have now.
Sincerely, I hope that you keep my words in the back of your mind and leave yourself open to new experiences. Experience is what makes a life rich and the only thing holding you back is your own fear.
Don’t be a sissy.
John Dailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.