Create a Career Wish List


As we turn the calendar to December, the holiday season is in full swing. Hanukkah is beginning, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lights are shining and every ad on TV and online relates to shopping, shopping and more shopping.

I plan to do all of my holiday shopping online this year, as I do most of my shopping all year round (yes, I am planning a very nice holiday gift for my UPS guy, who, since I work from a home office, is the person I see most during the day!).

One of the features I’ve seen popping up on more and more e-retailer sites is the “Wish List,” where you can save all of the items you want to buy later or share with your potential gift givers. This got me thinking — wouldn’t it be cool if people had Career Wish Lists?

I’m sure you already have a few ideas of companies you’d love to work for, internships to apply for, jobs that sound interesting, successful entrepreneurs you admire or people you’ve been meaning to talk to for advice or contacts. Why not write all of this down into a Career Wish List?

Open a fresh Word document or buy a crisp new notebook and start an ongoing list of every career possibility that comes to mind. Try not to censor yourself at all; just write. Your Career Wish List (something I call your “Really Big List” in my book, Getting from College to Career), will come in handy in a variety of ways during your career planning and any job search you undertake now or in the future:

  • Your Career Wish List will give you assignments. Whenever you feel motivated to work on your career planning, it will serve as a to-do list of opportunities to research. Once you begin to gather information on any idea on your list, you should start a folder for what you find to keep track of it all.
  • Your Career Wish List will help you network. Glance through your List to prepare for any informational interview, networking event or meeting with a career counselor. Better yet, bring your list along. The people you meet are likely to know some of the companies or people on your list—or how to reach them. Your list will turn a vague, “Can you help me find a job?” into a specific request for specific leads.
  • Your Career Wish List will help you assess yourself. As your list grows, you’ll begin to see patterns of what kinds of opportunities attract you. Perhaps you’ll notice that many of the items on your list point you towards creative jobs, small companies, political work, Asian American mentors, living in Chicago, making a difference, going to graduate school or something else. Or maybe you’ll find a mishmash of stuff—which is okay, too. Don’t see an all-over-the-place list as frustrating; instead, see it as reflecting the fact that a lot of different things will make you happy.

Have you ever tried writing a Career Wish List? Will you start one this season? Please share your thoughts in the Comments!

Share this post

hi, i'm lindsey!

Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


Learn 25 Practical Ways to Manage Across Generations