When to plan your career

I received a student’s email where he wrote: “I do not agree with you about having a career plan early. Most 18 years old students DO NOT know what they want and planning a career at this time is a waste of time since things will change.”

Answer: “In that case, what is the BEST TIME to plan your career? When do you think you know what you want? Do you wait until after graduation to plan a career? If you think 18 years is too early then what is the age when you think you will be ready?


It is important for all students to plan your life as early as possible and do NOT let it waste away in fear and confusion. Even you are young, you should know what you want. Ask yourself: “What is your passion? What job you really like and why? What subjects that you like when you are in school?

As a young student, you can set yourself career goals and move forward or you can waste your life into oblivion. As you are maturing and know yourself better, things will change and you know how to adjust to it. To live is to learn and failure is also an opportunity to learn. In fact, failures are things that will teach you how much more effort you need to reach your goal. But not having a plan for what you want will cost you a lot more.

Having a career plan is like having a map when you travel. You cannot travel without a destination, without guidance, and without a map. You can set a short-term goal such as getting a good grade in a class or long-term goal such as graduate in a field of high demand. You can challenge yourself by setting a short-term goal such as studying for a difficult course which you do not like but still do well in it.Or you can set a long-term goal on what you want to do in your life. For example, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to read more articles about startups and follow people who have been through that road before, know what they did to get there and set goals and prepare yourself to do the same.

However, having a career goal is NOT enough. You have to believe in yourself that you can achieve it. Be confident about what you want to achieve. Imagine your future in which you have achieved your dreams. Having more friends who have a similar career goal will help because they will motivate you and help you to travel with them. DO NOT let anyone who convinces you that you DO NOT need a career plan or planning early is a waste of time because they are nothing but a distraction for you. Spend less time on facebook and trivial video games, they are a waste of time. Sharing your career plan and goals with your parents as they always want you to succeed.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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