Here’s a reality check for the intense planners out there. The hot jobs change over time and some of the things that look like a smart, steady career path when you’re in college can disappear entirely a decade or two longer. Or you can change and decide the things that fascinated you at 19 bore you silly when you are 28. Planning for an unknown future with too many variables to isolate is impossible to do and discouraging to contemplate. And we live in a time of increasingly fast change. Whole industries are being disrupted while new ones arise. So here’s a statement taken out of context that really wouldn’t sound like me: Give up.
I’m proposing an entirely different way to think about your career, starting right now, while you are still in school that future-proofs you, whatever comes. Think of every class and activity as building specific skills, you can begin to create a narrative that helps you decide where your evolving passions lie. You can also plan a few steps ahead, as things gradually become clearer to you. And even those first internships or career positions post-graduation that turn out to be a terrible fit can still yield big value if you think about them in terms of skills. If you’ve got strong skills in a few areas and continue to build on those, I think you’ll be relevant for even those professions that arise from what’s just a sparkle in an entrepreneur’s eye right now. And when you come to a choice between activities, internships, or jobs, you’ll be able to evaluate them by their long-term worth to you, not just a short-term pay difference.