Have a Plan and Be Willing to Change It

Darran Simon ’98

Q. What is your job and what do you like about it?

A. I am a senior writer for CNN Digital. I like that every day is different. I have covered mudslides and wildfires in California; mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Sutherland Springs, Texas; fatal police shootings of black men nationwide; and terrorist attacks in London. I recently traveled to Philadelphia, where I wrote about librarians using Narcan to save heroin addicts. I even crawled through the Everglades with a real-estate-investor-turned-part-time-python-hunter searching for the invasive species.

Q. Did you have a plan for your career when you graduated from URI?

A. I graduated at 21 years old, an English major, and had my life mapped out. I had planned to graduate from law school by the age of 25 and live in the Washington, D.C. area. I applied to seven law schools, and every school rejected me. I had written for the Good Five Cent Cigar at URI and I decided to try journalism. I really fell into journalism.

Q. What has helped you most in your professional life?

A. I am not afraid to work hard and I’m not afraid to fail. I have failed and stumbled many times. I have had some luck, and prayer has helped a lot, too.

Q. Did you have a mentor?

A. Yes, many. They have guided me, challenged me, and held me accountable. They have believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. They have helped me to put things in perspective. I am grateful for them and I hope, in turn, to be a mentor for young journalists.

Q. What’s your best career advice for students or recent grads?


  • Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Outwork everyone.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, you’ll figure it out eventually.
  • Have a plan, but be willing to follow the direction your career takes you.
  • Make time to breathe and to do things that make you smile. You still need to live.

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