Advice From a Planner: Don’t Plan It


By Chris Devadatta

Many interview questions crack me up, but my favorite has to be, “Where do you see yourself in “X” number of years?”

It’s remarkable a.) how different everyone’s answers are and b.) what we believe can get us to this goal. A proud planner myself (I don’t go on vacation without every day scheduled), I had my goal in mind, and how I’d get there. Little did I know I’d be sent down a path that I never predicted.

I went though it all: interviews, networking, the whole gambit. If I worked enough, I thought, I’d get a full-time job six months after graduating college in June 2015. Instead, I interned for over one year at multiple PR agencies. It wasn’t until October 2016 that I got hired full-time as an AC at Ketchum New York – working on the Mastercard and Frito-Lay accounts.

Did I ever think I’d be working for such clients in the biggest city in America? Absolutely not. Am I grateful that this happened? Absolutely.

I’ve learned much from this experience, but the biggest takeaways:

  • Don’t plan too much. While you should be proactive in your professional growth (I couldn’t have gotten here without who and what I knew), don’t pressure yourself too much. The PR industry is an incredibly fluid and dynamic industry, and – for better or worse – it’s constantly changing. Think about what’s best for you, and have an idea of what you want, but be open to new possibilities.
  • It’s not easy. I won’t sugar-coat it: moving to New York is hard. Housing is incredibly competitive (and expensive!), and you’ll likely have to save money and leave your roots. If you can, dedicate at least a month to looking for a place – especially if you’re not working. It’s difficult, but possible – as long as you (pardon this cliché) see the light at the end of the tunnel. Literally speaking, picture yourself coming out of the Holland or Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan – it’s quite a sight.
    • Helpful resources include: Gypsy Housing, Naked Apartments, StreetEasy, Trulia and any personal resources in NY. Also, consider a broker – they can help find cheap and nice places (although they might want you to look with a roommate)
  • Who do you know? Constantly ask yourself that question. Your best friend from HS? A casual college acquaintance? A distant family member? Hit them up. Every person you know, even if it’s not that well, will make this enormous city seem smaller and less overwhelming.

I often think: what if I did it differently so I could have been hired six months after graduating, instead of being a “super intern”? However, I answer this question with the adage of living for today. Think about your future, but don’t live for it. It’s amazing how fate will steer you elsewhere – and you might like it more. Just go with it! 

P.S. to Chicagoans:

  • Generally, winters aren’t as cold here
  • Good luck finding deep dish, Chicago dogs or anything-Cubs
  • CTA is not that bad

  chris-devadatta A native of Naperville, Illinois, Chris Devadatta is a graduate of the PR/AD program at DePaul University. He now is Account Coordinator at Ketchum New York.




2 thoughts on “Advice From a Planner: Don’t Plan It

  1. Hi Chris!
    Thank you for your post, I found it extremely insightful! I consider myself a planner as well and can relate to a lot of what you said. I am currently a senior studying PR and marketing at Southeast Missouri State University, and I am looking to move to a big city after I graduate. I have a few questions!
    1. What made you choose New York over Chicago (I also live in Illinois and am looking at both cities for post-graduation life)
    2. How does your job adapt to the changing PR environment?
    3. How did your past internships lead you to Ketchum?
    Thank you!

  2. Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found it insightful! Us planners got to stick together 😉

    To answer your questions:
    1.) I went to school in Chicago, and I wanted a change of scenery. I’ve been to New York and loved it. The pace, atmosphere and opportunities aligned more with my goals. At that period of my life, everything pointed to NY, and I was ready for an adventure.
    2.) My job adapts to the changing PR environment by constantly rolling punches (great questions, btw). It’s never a dull moment in PR, and work as an AC proves this. You’ve got to maintain a level head, keep up and juggle a heavy workload, much like the constantly-changing PR environment.
    3.) I had a diverse set of positions before Ketchum, including those at another PR agency, law firms and a restaurant group. My prior experience, and getting in touch with a college friend, allowed me to get a foot in the door at Ketchum Chicago – which at the time was an internship. After the Chicago office I moved to the NY office. Like I said, though, don’t pressure yourself too much when looking for work. Many of these past positions were from knowing the right person at the right time. I think these are just as, if not more fulfilling, than going the traditional, apply online approach.

    Hope this helps!

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