The Life Question I Despise Answering

Maybe you can relate with me on this…career planning far in advance for a college student is like giving an infant a bicycle and expecting it to know how to ride. My generation is young and on a quest to figure out where the best career fit will be, no matter how many jobs it takes. Written by Juliet Rocco

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” I despise this question. Every year, at least one of my professors assigns a paper geared towards our vision of where we see ourselves in five years. What will we be doing? Where will we be doing it? And how do we plan to get there?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s important to plan ahead and I consider myself a visionary. However, if you asked me in high school where I would be five years from then, I wouldn’t have a clue. You probably didn’t either.

Tunnel vision: The reason I don’t like this question is because I feel like it’s creating tunnel vision against opportunity seekers. Why focus on one goal or one grad school so far down the road? You’re young. You’ve got options.

You don’t even know if you’re going to be completely satisfied with your major or career choice yet. Going out into the big bad world and starting your salary job is going to give you a whole new perspective.

Become an opportunity seeker: My education and work life have benefitted by being an opportunity seeker and goal-setter. I can’t stress enough how important it is to set goals and be alert when it comes to capitalizing on opportunities. I have a few very specific goals that I plan to achieve, but not necessarily 5-year plans.

Instead of asking,  “Where do I see myself in five years?” ask, “What kinds of opportunities am I looking for?”

As far as planning, I don’t do much serious career thinking more than a year ahead. So much changes in just a year. Although, I think it’s good to understand what you want out of your job to help narrow down the search.

Generation “Y” a.k.a. job hoppers: The average Gen Y’er (born in the 80’s and 90’s) will only be working at the same company for a little over a year. I’m 21 years old and have already had four different jobs since I turned 17.

My parents are both Baby Boomers and stayed with the same company for almost 25 years each. In their day, getting a job with a benefits package and stock options meant you stayed there until retiring to a nice home in Florida.

Job security isn’t the main focus for us. We want new challenges and new surroundings. For myself, I want to find a nice work atmosphere where I can stay for 5-10 years and pay off those lovely college loans by the government. Being challenged is another factor. If I don’t feel like I’m being given opportunities that help boost my personal career growth, I’m gone.

Something to ponder:

Where do you see popular social sites in 5 years? Remember when we all thought MySpace was the greatest thing ever? Don’t forget Friendster either. Well, only if you weren’t busy posting photos and random blogs on Xanga.

Takeaway: Five-year plans are great for people who want to be doctors and lawyers and have longer schooling to go through. If you’re in marketing where the landscape is changing at a constant rate, it would be wise to set goals but also focus on the opportunities you have right now.

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