An engineer by training, Steven Mollenkopf climbed to become the CEO of Qualcomm—one of the world’s largest producers of microchips for mobile devices. As such, you might think he’d be a big proponent of carefully sketched-out career planning. You’d be wrong. Here’s his advice for new college graduates, from a Q&A style interview in today’s New York Times:
What advice do you give new college grads?
Don’t have a plan, because you can underestimate what your abilities are, and you might limit yourself in some cases with a plan. I also think luck is very important. Be sure that you allow for luck to occur, and when it happens, run toward the fire, not run away from it. The people who are really good, and the people you want on your team, are the ones who see an opportunity and they get excited about it versus shrinking away.
You’ve also got to just trust in your own ability. You can fix everything, basically, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes.