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Will there be a collapse in plan A through Z?

Having a back-up plans would get you in a safe way of managing your career planning. #planning #event-management

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Anna’s Answer

There will be setbacks, not everything will go your way. A good question to ask yourself is, how badly do you want to achieve X? How important is it to you personally, to have this job? I have seen people change careers mid-way, but it is always deliberate. Sometimes it's because they don't see good opportunities in their current path, or they are more interested in something else. And that's ok and totally normal!
I think it's important for young people to realise that you don't have to commit to a job for life. Typically people change roles once every 2-3 years. There are many ways that you can do what you enjoy but in different industries, different roles, different companies. Ask yourself, what would get you excited to get out of bed each morning? Chase that feeling, but know that you don't have to be in the same job, do the same career throughout your life to get there!

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Alan’s Answer

My interpretation of your question is how to create the right optionality in your future career, and how to plan and prepare for this early.

I've been quite fortunate to have a relatively smooth run in my past 15+ years of professional career, starting in banking then switching into consulting and now back in banking with a senior strategy management role, three jobs in total thus far.

Through the years, I did have some plan Bs in my mind from time to time, but the plan Bs generally only gave me a direction, and never really turned out the same way as I had thought.

Instead, consciously and unconsciously, I have been very careful in choosing industries and jobs that can create good optionality, and avoiding the ones that can be limiting; and once decisions are made I keep my head down and do the best I can in the job / industry I've chosen, while staying vigilant of emerging risks facing my industry and continuously building new, relevant skills to hedge the risks and expand my earnings potential.

In other words, instead of keeping too many back-fall plans which would cause confusion and not to mention stress, I think it's better putting time and effort in making good industry and job choices, working hard in the industry / job, while learning new stuffs to stay on / ahead of the curve for the next job.

For example, looking back in my senior year at college I evaluated a few job offers based on several criteria:
1) pay,
2) experience and skills (both technical/"hard" skills and general/"soft" skills),
3) optionality to switch employers within the industry, and
4) optionality to switch to a different industry if things do not go as smoothly as planned.

Based on these criteria, I decided to take a job in a commercial bank after graduation:
1) The job did not give me the highest pay compared to the other job offers I got.
2) But it'd allow me to learn about banking and finance (technical/hard skills) and team and client management (general/soft skills) which would be quite transferable if I decided to work in treasury functions in a corporate or in other client facing jobs.
3) There were (and still are) many banks to switch jobs to in Hong Kong, which implies a potentially higher pricing power for employees too; whilst many other industries had just 2 to 3 major players that I could switch jobs between (e.g. there're only two large airlines meaningfully based in Hong Kong - not a good industry structure for an employee at all even before COVID).
4) Many international companies still based their finance and treasury management out of Hong Kong, offering good exit options from banking. Also banking is well respected for general skills training by other major employers in Hong Kong. Thus the optionality to switch to other industries was quite good.

After a couple years in banking, I found that the skills I'd continue to develop if I stayed in banking would get narrower and narrower, potentially limiting myself to a specialist / professional sales role within the bank rather than a senior management role. This was quite different from my original assumptions. Meanwhile, I also found myself getting more interested in understanding other different industries, and would like to get my career outside of Hong Kong to further broaden my options. So, deviating from my original plan B but adhering still to my decision principles, and with some hard work and luck, I made a move into strategy consulting, a very different career than I had originally planned, and stayed in the industry for quite many years keeping my head down on work without thinking about alternatives much.

But, over time, I again started to sense my growth and experience becoming limited to certain specific of consulting skill sets, and the consulting industry was getting more and more challenged amid digital and tech disruptions. Thus I went back to banking taking a senior strategic management role, not really executing a plan B but taking a forward-looking career move that hopefully would set me up well for the next 5 to 10 years.

So, overall, I don't think as young as you are you should worry much about uncertainties. You may stress yourself out too much, too early. Just make the best industry and job choices possible, work hard and do your best, allow your self to fail confident in the hedges you've already built in with your earlier industry / job choices, and keep yourself at / ahead of the curve by continuously recognising and acquiring new, relevant skills that will future-proof your career.

Hope my thought process and experience help, and good luck!

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Kimberly’s Answer

Can you expand on what you mean here? What do you mean by plan A-Z? What do you mean by collapse? If you can rephrase to be more specific I will try to help! Thank you