A career, according to the OED, is 'an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life'. However, in the modern age especially, it has become more of a series of occupations taken over the course of one's life. We switch and change job lanes whilst hopefully always advancing forward and okay, maybe if this is a real drastic alteration of ones profession then we call that a "career change" but without getting into the semantics of where one career begins and another ends I think we can all agree that changes to our working life is what forms our careers. Whether we should actively craft this, deciding and planning each change or if we should let the chips fall as they may and allow it to cultivate is my question.

A graduate career is by nature, a planned career, at least to begin with. If you have studied at university and gained a graduate degree then that was a conscious decision in order to progress your career (some would call it a tactical short cut). Choosing what subject(s) to study was also a career forming decision, whether you chose it because of this or not is another matter. And the next career forming decision is choosing your first graduate job, right?

Yes and no. The idea that once you've chosen one occupation you will be carrying it out, albeit in more advanced higher paying forms, until retirement is no longer true. The average person has 2.5 (can we round that up to three?) "careers" in their lifetime - which I suppose means distinct professions such as marketing, advertising and banking...I told you, I'm not getting into semantics! The point is what proportion of these people purposefully plan these movements and which float around, and which is the better course of action?

Planning is always a worthwhile activity. It's a way of preparing for possible outcomes, so it's good to always have multiple plans. Regarding anything, a decent tactician will always come up with a series of plans based on predicted contingencies. These are predetermined strategies that can be enacted upon when the foreseen circumstances arise. The merit of a tactician is based upon their ability to see possible outcomes and then the possible outcomes of their actions upon those initial outcomes and so on and so forth. In essence it's the art of being "x number of moves ahead of the game" - a cliché that I would guess to have been lifted from the world of chess because that's exactly what the game entails.

Transposing this methodology to the working world is a good idea and essential if you are to purposefully mould a career. A plan of where you will head and when and also plans considering the "what ifs". What if this or that doesn't work out, or I have to stay in a certain job for longer because of other reasons. Remember that there are many, many things that can affect your career, personal issues such as getting married and having children to name a couple, and they are the ones that you be almost certain will happen. What about the things that you haven't considered yet?

This isn't to say that planning is a complete necessity. Many people have done very well progressing step-by-step and taking opportunities simply when they have become available. After all if you work hard and are good at your graduate job, you will be promoted and successfully move onwards and upwards.

It all depends on your aspirations. If you have a concrete idea of where you want to head, then you best go ahead a plan your graduate career path. If you are happy in your graduate job and the industry you are working and will be happy generally within that field then it wouldn't be as necessary.