Revising Future Plans in Light of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Students reflect on the changes in their future plans amidst the current Coronavirus pandemic.

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Afran Ahmed

While it is not uncommon for many original career goals to have been changed in pursuit of more approachable plans, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Afran Ahmed ’21 took the pandemic as an opportunity to seize the moment and use his free time to make his literary dreams a reality.

Imagine yourself on the moon, strapped into a spacesuit while your name circulates around the internet. Or perhaps imagine that you are a CEO making millions of dollars on a weekly basis. Although these ideas may sound impossible, career goals are often set in extremes in pursuit of empowerment, out of a strong dedication to get somewhere of which we have always dreamed. With time, we expect that a firmer grasp on reality catalyzes the evolution of the tremendous occupational dreams that we made as children. However, it could also mean that young individuals become more willing to give credit to all of their future potential. Regardless, the famous phrase, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” has recently received diverse answers and brain-stumping reactions, all of which, for the most part, experienced a significant transformation amidst the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has redefined the entrepreneurial mentality. Even for Bronx Science students like us, the change and tragedy was an opportunity to rethink who we are and what we can achieve. For most, the past 18 months have been a period of reinvention. Everyone has had to make some difficult decisions, but out of these came a gain in self-knowledge.

Mauro Guillen, a sociologist, political economist, and management educator at Wharton, studied the correlation between the accelerating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and the gradual revision regarding one’s personal progress. In his new book, “2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything,” Guillen discusses how the age of COVID-19 has intensified what business owners hope to get out of their platform, and how discrete workers strategize their career plans to seize what is, at the moment, the best opportunity. All together, this accumulated global mentality came with the acknowledgment that what is modestly pursued tends to be more “realistic” and “approachable,” but also on the direct path of what genuinely makes us happy.

When the topic of the Coronavirus pandemic potentially transforming future career plans was introduced to the Bronx Science community, many students agreed that creating “realistic” and “approachable” future goals right now is the most appropriate option.

“With COVID preventing a lot of what would have been the opportunity of exploring, my motivation for the future was dampened,” said Joyce Chen ’21.

On a similar note, some students began comparing what they previously had hoped to pursue pre-pandemic to their most recent goals. Sydney Siskind ’23, for example, said that her career plans tended to be more broad yet extravagant, leaving enough unknown so that her future plans could be maneuvered into reality, yet solid enough to remain a serious goal. However, following what is hopefully now the end stages of the pandemic in the United States, Siskind said, “In 10 years, I just hope to find myself in graduate school pursuing a degree. If I’m not in graduate school, I hope that I will be traveling — this is something that I have always loved to do!”

This change in future perspectives was not the only takeaway of the Coronavirus pandemic. Some students redefined their bolder dreams in order to take on a more manageable future vision, simply through reinterpretation. “I always wanted to write a book of some sort, but I got very discouraged about this future possibility, because there’s a substantial deficit when it comes to an emphasis on anything humanities-based in the world at large. I love writing, which is why it was a dream in the first place. Now, I think that dreams can become more revitalized from the experience of living through the Coronavirus pandemic. For instance, now I actually have more time to pursue my writing,” said Afran Ahmed ’22.

For students like Afran Ahmed, initial career goals were not stopped, but instead changed to adapt to our new reality of living through a pandemic. Regardless of whether your goals are reserved or remain extravagant, they should reflect your future potential and interests. You are in control of who you become. 

Mauro Guillen, a sociologist, political economist, and management educator at Wharton, studied the correlation between the accelerating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and the gradual revision regarding one’s personal progress.

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