Do you need to plan your career or can you just let it happen?

Choices Some people plan everything – I’m sure you know someone who lives their life by lists and makes a revision time table and sticks to it. We all behave in different ways,  so if you are the type of person who lets life unfold why would you suddenly change your behaviour because you are planning the next stage in your life?

Do you really need to have a plan for your life post University?

Economists, geographers & psychologists will know about models to explain behaviour, there are careers models too that explain how people make choices. Many of these career models talk about planning (a lot) and the steps you go through….Yes and then there is the real world!

I won’t deny that not having a plan (AKA any ideas) can sometimes make things more confusing and it could take a little longer to get your post University life off the ground. BUT it doesn’t stop it happening and it can be a great way to try different things and work out what you want along the way.

Advice for non planners

You may or may not have some ideas what you want to do with your life after university, but you don’t yet have a clear strategy for getting what you want.


  • Be open minded – be prepared to try something out even if you can’t see yourself doing it for ever. Take a chance!
  • Be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they come along. Keep your CV up to date.
  • Think about what you want out of life, what has meaning to you? Money, travel, making a difference, etc.
  • Reflect on the experiences you have already had and think about what makes you excited, happy, challenged.


  • Because you don’t have a fixed plan it can be easy to let opportunities pass you by because you don’t recognise them as something for you. Seize them!
  • If you live in the moment, looking to the future can seem daunting or just not for you. Don’t let it stop you talking to people or exploring options that COULD  be part of your life in the future. You don’t need to decide immediately!
  • Don’t reject options that sound like they need a bit of planning, it may not be your preferred way to work but if the end justifies the means, just do it!

 Advice for planners

You may have some ideas of specific careers you are interested in or have  a goal in sight, don’t let it blind you to other opportunities though.


  • Know yourself – understand what you want in the future so that you can plan a route to get there.
  • Explore different jobs and careers – research the entry routes so that you know what skills or qualifications are needed.
  • Plan to get experience that will help you gain relevant skills or gain insight into a career area.
  • Schedule time to do applications for jobs or courses.


  • Don’t narrow your choices too much, have a plan B.
  • Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that may not be on your masterplan.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected, sometimes companies don’t give you much notice for interviews. Factor this in!
  • Things don’t always go the way we want them to, don’t give up, be flexible and resilient and try again.

 In conclusion…

Don’t get freaked out by friends who have their life mapped out, that’s just the way they work. You can do things a different way and we are here to support you however you choose to plan (or not plan) your next steps.



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