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Embrace the Unexpected

We are amid a time of unpredicability and flux, COVID-19 has been a gamechanger, we are all in this common experience together and, yes, we will come through it. It is remarkable and inspirational to observe our resilience and ability to quickly adapt to new situations when called to do so. 

You have successfully learned to adapt to new situations all your life... learned to ride without stabilisers... learned to adapt to third level learning... learned to quickly adapt to online learning and examinations... to your Work Placement... to working abroad over the summer... to Erasmus... the list goes on and on.

Openness, flexibility and a ‘can do’ attitude

You may have already worked in several part-time and summer jobs, gained a unique perspective, set of skills and workplace knowledge from each - these have contributed to the adaptable person that you are today. 

Did you know that it is normal, acceptable and common to build a professional career path through an eclectic, steppingstone approach (and it always has been!). Career planning is not one decision or event. It is a rich tapestry of experiences that lead to launching and creating your career path, career decisions can be changed again and again. 

Many graduates opt to take the non-linear approach to their career working in a sequence of varied types of jobs that may or may not necessarily connect to their university degree.  It has many advantages: allowing you to earn money while figuring out the career direction you ultimately want to take; allowing you to try a variety of jobs; and through experience, you can become clearer about your true career path; allowing you to pick up a host of transferable skills that can prove highly useful to your career of choice. It also demonstrates to employers that you are industrious, willing to work, are adaptable, and can learn and apply new skills promptly.  

  • You develop well rounded and wide-ranging combinations of skills 
  • You naturally strengthen an openminded adaptable, resilient growth mindset  
  • You open doors to new, previously unconsidered careers. 

The Happenstance career path

Did you know that Happenstance (a circumstance that is due to chance) and Planned Happenstance (creating opportunities for yourself out of aspirations that you would like to pursue in your career) plays and always has played an important part in finding employment opportunities and building a good career? Countless thousands of people end up in jobs and careers by pure chance. 

This has always been the case, whether in thriving strong economic periods or challenging ones. Why? By being in the right place the right time and having a positive openness to trying things out and taking risks.  

The 'right place at the right time' does not refer to a physical  location – it can be many things: a state of mind, a connection or interaction with someone that turns out to be  significant.  It can be an interesting piece of information, or opportunity that turns out to be a gamechanger in someone’s life.  

'Jack graduated with a degree in Architecture, he then spent six months travelling and on his return met someone at a BBQ in his uncle's house. Equipped with a friendly openness to conversation and curiosity, Jack heard about the fascinating world of Sustainable Business, Environmental Economics and Reducing the Industrial Carbon Footprint.  Five years later, Jack is still working in this sector and has already made a second career move with a new employer'. Read more Career Stories here

Happenstance Career Stories:

Happenstance and Planned Happenstance is probably the most useful guide for growing your career because it describes how most careers naturally get launched and it persuades you to adopt and apply a few simple attitudes and actions that work.   

Even if you don’t know exactly where your actions will lead, just by being active and curious and doing the right kinds of things, great things can and will happen.  

  • Curiosity to explore learning opportunities 
  • Persistence to deal with obstacles 
  • Flexibility to address a variety of circumstances and events 
  • Optimism to maximise benefits from unplanned events 
  • Risk-taking to be willing to step into new experiences and uncertainty   

Four core steps:

  1. Clarify ideas: follow your curiosity and identify your interests 
  2. Remove perceived obstacles:  ask yourself ‘how can I rather than I can’t because… 
  3. Expect the unexpected: be prepared for chance opportunities, such as unexpected phone calls, chance encounters, impromptu conversations and new experiences 
  4. Take action: learn, develop skills, remain open and follow up on chance events 

Find out about how students in McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada got involved in the Planned Happenstance Project “.  It only takes 21 days to change a habit! Why not take the 21-day challenge and adopt the Happenstance mindset and actions?

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