Widgets Magazine

Not planning ahead

“What are your plans when you graduate?” I have some version of this question asked on a frequent basis, especially lately. I am four quarters from graduating, so I don’t dismiss the inquiry as unfounded. The question is valid; I just do not have a valid answer yet.

Sure, I have had passing thoughts, some ideas I’ve run through, but I do not have a decision. I am undecided on a particular job, a particular place – even a particular region in the United States (yes, I think I will stay in America). Moreover, I am not going to start looking for a reply to my future’s question until the time is right. Just when? Soon, but not right now.

I spent several years away from Stanford before returning this past September, and during my initial time off, I had several tries that didn’t become fully realized. Many of these attempts involved searching for a job and trying a different route to further my education. I say “attempts” because my efforts were so consumed by bidding for the future that I didn’t  look at the steps close ahead. Many times, life got in the way and shifted my trajectory. Now, I take a different approach.

I take everything week-by-week. I often have some assignment due, and figure that completing one thing is a good start to a near-finish. Also, we are on the quarter system: Taking things week-by-week is our natural approach. While I know what is ahead, I don’t address things far from my reach. Though courses are still very much in the now, my plans when I graduate are probably a couple months away – to put a timeline on it. Sure, I could begin browsing some ideas for jobs, research a few possibilities, look at potential places to live, but the endeavor would end at browsing. I don’t want to feel as though I am searching for something I’ve yet to arrive at, scavenging for an answer when the time is not yet right.

Despite all this, I do have an idea of what I want to do. This is not to say that not planning ahead means I have no clue where to look when the time comes. Instead, I am not going to get ahead of myself, and think about mere ideas I cannot take any action on. When the time is right, I’ll begin seriously addressing avenues I might take. Instead of casting a mental net out to the future, I have enough this week to be concerned about. Yes, the time will come when the week will need to be focused around a cover letter, a resume, an application, and when it does, I’ll know what I need to do. Until then, I’ll continue with this week.

 

Contact Courtney Clayton at cclayton ‘at’ stanford.edu.