Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Plan abI had the great fortune to spend the past few days lecturing, mentoring and networking with the College of Charleston's faculty, alumni and students.

I had that opportunity because I've been a member of the CofC's Department of Communications Advisory Council for the past five years.

I must confess that, aside from my alma mater, Northeastern University, the College of Charleston is my extra special favorite place (that's a riff on what the young Rep, Jr., used to call me).

During my visit, I participated in a speed networking event with 60 or so sophomores, juniors and seniors. As is the case with students I've met from other schools, yesterday's group ran the gamut from the superbly poised and prepared to those who, shall we say, were somewhat lost at sea.

The best and brightest had it all:

– Relevant internships
– Significant pro bono/volunteer service
– A strong digital footprint
– A poised, professional manner
– The ability to listen and respond in the moment.

They also knew exactly what they wanted to do after graduation. One was combining her original interest in health care with her current passion for communications and intended to work within a large medical center after graduation. Another one had focused on internships in the fashion world and intended to combine that hands-on retail experience with her communications skills to work in the marketing group of a well-known department store.

And, then, there were the others. When I asked one senior how many interviews she'd lined up prior to graduating next month, she replied, “Oh, I'm much too busy studying for finals to worry about that. I'll start looking after graduation.” Good luck with that.

Another admitted she had no real interest in communications at all and intended, instead, to pursue a completely different career. Oh. That immediately reminded me of a Millennial who recently interviewed at Peppercomm. When asked why she was interested in a career in PR, she responded, “Well, I'd really prefer to be a teacher.” End of interview.

Success in life is the end result of careful planning and hard work. Like their peers who are graduating from thousands of other schools this spring, some CofC students will become absolute rock stars. Others, though, will wake up in a few years' time and realize they've let the world pass them by.

So, note to all college and university undergrads: the time to map your future isn't after graduation. Focus on your passion now, land the internships that will build your credentials and network, network, network.

As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Knowing how unpredictable the future will be, it's that much more important to put a plan in place this morning and begin implementing it this afternoon. Otherwise, you'll find yourself waking up at one minute to midnight with few, if any, career options.

8 thoughts on “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

  1. Thanks so much for the comment, Ruth. I agree. I’m also just now recovering from the speed networking. It knocked the bejesus out of poor Johnny Rocket.

  2. In addition to “seconding” the comments already shared, the speed networking exercise presented a tremendous opportunity for students to develop and/or practice their “elevator speech” as well as how to transition into other salient interview points. Plus, students were able to receive feedback from a number of professionals. I look forward to seeing how those who participated improve and hope to see others take advantage of this Advisory Council program the next time it is offered.

  3. In addition to “seconding” the comments already shared, the speed networking experience was a tremendous exercise for students to think about – and even practice – their “elevator speech” as well as how to transition into other relevant points. Plus, it provided students with an opportunity for feedback from a number of professionals. Dr. Beth Goodier shared with me that we may do this at a future Advisory Council event. I look forward to seeing improvements in those who took part in this one as well as hope to see others take advantage of the next one!

  4. Thanks Steve for sharing your perspectives on this experience for students and council members. I would add that in this “speed networking” setting I found I was most impressed with, and students should stress when they are in real interviews, the experiences outside of school they brought to the table. I’m always interested in young people who have shown initiative in finding internships, volunteer opportunities and part-time jobs. Hiring managers expect you to learn on the job, but the characteristics of being a hard worker, one who takes feedback well, and learns and builds upon the time invested in them by those in my department – that’s who I want on my team. Also the experience as a cashier – in my business, that means you’ve witnessed payments. Working for a start-up as an administrative assistant? In drilling down this included managing social media, providing tech support and customer service, monitoring and reporting inventory levels. The students at the College of Charleston know more than they realize, and it is such a good use of our time to help them get a leg up in a competitive job market. We all look forward to hearing about their successes as the build upon what they’ve learned from this excellent faculty.

  5. Amen, Beth. Success is all about conquering one’s fears and challenging the unknown. And, also being open to failing many times in order to succeed. Inertia, on the other hand, is literally a non-starter.

  6. I “second” everything Dr. Goodier and Mr. Cody expressed. As a newcomer to the College of Charleston, I am absolutely amazed by the involvement of the Advisory Council. Our majors should count their lucky stars to have the opportunity to interact with and learn from such innovative, hard working, passionate leaders in the field of communication. So thank you to our Advisory Council for setting aside such valuable time and energy to help our students succeed.
    This generation still has some growing to do if they want to survive in our ever-changing field. The workplace has changed. The media landscape has changed. Our majors must realize that the moment they stop learning and exploring is the moment they become “irrelevant.” Part of that learning and exploring is doing all those things Dr. Goodier suggested. As one Advisory Council member advised: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
    Thank you again to our Council and to everyone who organized the networking event.

  7. Thanks to Repman Steve Cody and all of our council members for participating in this exercise. Offering students the opportunity to network and engage with council members of this caliber during sessions like this is one of the things I love most about my job. As a spectator, I enjoyed watching the students move from states of sheer panic to positions of relative comfort, ease and even poise in many cases. I spoke with a first year student who looked particularly nervous about the experience who said, “I am terrified! I think I might throw up. What do I do?” My response? Do it anyway. Just start. Life is full of opportunities – most will be scary and uncomfortable at first. Learn to be comfortable with your discomfort. Learn to embrace the fear and channel it into something great. Take that knot in the pit of your stomach and consider it the foundation on which you will build your next talent. The students who channel their fear into motivation — the ones who push themselves out of their comfort zone — are the ones who benefit the most from their college experience. Take a class that will challenge you (by choice). Find an internship that will push you. Take every opportunity to network and build relationships. Study abroad. Volunteer. Surround yourself with people who aren’t just like you (at least every once in a while). It will be scary. It will be uncomfortable. You might fail. You might even throw up once in a while…. do it anyway. It will be worth it.