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Planned Happenstance

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Published: 22 April 2020

University of Sunderland in London student planning their career

Your future career plans might be on hold at the moment. It might be time to think differently about what you want to do with your degree from the University of Sunderland in London. 

If you’re coming to the end of your studies at the University, you might be wondering “what next?” Some of you may have had fixed plans which have come undone because of COVID-19. You might be wondering how you will carve out your career path with so much uncertainty about the future economy.

Despite the current crisis, we have seen some interesting changes: businesses that have suddenly come to the forefront of our lives (how many of you had heard of Zoom before the lockdown?), retailers shifting their focus, a new approach to food and cooking, initiatives in physical exercise and education, creative ideas on developing skills as well as community support and levels of kindness we have never seen before. Opportunity is everywhere. 

‘Planned Happenstance’, is a career theory developed by Professor John Krumboltz of Stanford University. It asks you to focus less on having specific plans for your future and more about finding opportunities in unplanned events. Krumboltz theory suggests we actively embrace the up-and-down nature of our careers. Instead, he says we should look for opportunities in the unexpected and do things which fit our natural strengths and interests. It’s about being responsive to the twists and turns of life. It’s certainly true that being flexible is more relevant now than it has ever been.

To make the most of Planned Happenstance, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Can the things you’re naturally curious about be turned in to business opportunities?
  • When you come across difficulties in your career, can you recover quickly and come out stronger? 
  • Instead of saying to yourself, ‘I can’t’ can you ask yourself, ‘can I?’
  • Are you open to new ideas and opportunities?
  • Do you have a flexible attitude? 
  • How can you take advantage of events you haven’t planned for? 
  • Are unexpected events, chance meetings, phones calls, etc., an opportunity that you can follow up? 
  • How can you follow your interests and get involved with activities, learning and developing skills that are taking you in the direction you want to go?

Maybe when the lockdown ends we’ll all be thinking more creatively about opportunities and career development - as the proverb says: ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.