Writing Activities to Kickstart Your Career Exploration

By Rebecca Schramm, Undergraduate Career Development

If writing puts you in the zone and helps you clarify your thoughts, think about tapping into this talent for exploring career possibilities. Here’s a short list of our favorite writing activities to start creating your career story.

The $50 Million Exercise

Congratulations! You just won the lottery. What are you going to do with all of that money? Take 10 minutes to free write.

  • Where would you go?
  • In which causes would you invest?
  • Who would you give money to and for what purpose?
  • What businesses might you start?
  • In which businesses might you invest?
  • How would you spend your time?

This activity helps you uncover motivations and values. It also frees you from worrying about financial constraints at this phase of your exploration process. Plus, you might even uncover a new interest area or business idea or two!

The 7 Stories Exercise

This exercise will help you uncover a lot about what makes you tick. It will also leave you with some great interview stories.

The 7 Stories Exercise from Get Five prompts you to list 20 accomplishments from your life, write about what parts of that experience made you proud, and what skills you enjoyed using. You can write about anything from saving a cat from a tree when you were eight to backpacking during a summer break, taking on your first part-time job, or learning a new language. This worksheet is all you need to get started.

Your Retirement Story

While you’re just starting to think about the next steps in your career journey, let’s travel into the future. Imagine that you’re at your own retirement party. Write a speech from the perspective of your best friend, partner, or former boss.

  • What did you do throughout your career?
  • What did you feel great about?
  • What kind of employee or manager were you?
  • What were your achievements and contributions to the world and your industry?
  • What are you going to be remembered for?

Be generous to yourself in this speech, and uncover new and meaningful patterns and goals.

The New York Times Writing Prompts

The New York Times offers 1000 writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing. One of our favorites is this question: “Are there things you enjoy doing that are so exhilarating or challenging that you find yourself feeling stronger, more alert, or happier? What activities make you feel more alive?” Write away and see what you come up with. What career options might these point to?

Your Family Career History

If you like writing, history, and genealogy, interview your family members to learn about jobs and careers they held, as well as those of your ancestors. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What patterns do you see?
  • How do these choices affect your ideas about careers now?
  • Where is this story limiting your career ideas, and where is it expanding them?
  • How does your family’s career history affect the way you feel about what you might want to do next?

You might even pick up a few family stories that surprise you and help you feel more grounded in your decisions.

More Career Exploration Resources

For more on career exploration, check out our resources about major-to-career connections, industries, student experiences, career assessments, and alumni connections.