10-Point Plan to Land Dream Job for Millennials, Gen Z & All Generations

Small children have big dreams. As a kid I wanted to be everything from a NASA astronaut to a Major League baseball star.

Yet as most people age and mature their dreams tend to evaporate and morph into something more practical and attainable.

But impractical does not mean impossible. That is, if you’re really willing to work for it and go the extra miles.

The future is now, as they say. Therefore I want to share some professional advice for all the teens and 20-somethings pondering their dreams and preparing to embark on their career paths.

Early in college I developed a career plan to help land my dream job. My goal was to work in the White House after graduation in June of 1992.

I was 19-years old. It was 1988 and George H.W. Bush occupied the Oval Office. I had never even heard of Bill Clinton at the time. Yet somehow it all magically worked out in the end.

While this plan is applicable for people of all ages, I think it’s especially ripe for a new generation of leaders.

Thus following is a 10-point plan for Gen Z and their Millennial predecessors to help make their professional dreams become reality:

1) Define your vision.

  • First, one must have a dream. Be bold and think big. Just make sure to be specific.

2) Build Around Your Dream.

  • Obtain the professional knowledge and expertise to best position yourself in a competitive marketplace. This includes pre- or post-graduate studies, jobs, internships and mentorships early on.

3) Remember the three “Ps”:

  • Perseverance, Positivity and Personality – all of which go a long way toward achieving success of any kind in life.

4) Network, network, network.

  • Be fearless, relentless and tireless. Knock on every appropriate door and leave no stone unturned.

5) Reject the naysayers.

  • The bigger your dream is, the more likely people will tell you it’s out of reach – if not impossible. But don’t let negativity steer you off course.

6) Visualize it.

  • See yourself having successfully accomplished the goal. Make positive affirmations. Write them down. Create a scrap book. Be passionate.

7) Believe!

  • Have faith and know in your heart that nothing will stop you and that nearly anything is possible. As 20-something Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks advises, just ask yourself: why not me?

8) Expect good luck and timing.

  • These are the intangible and uncontrollable factors. But the more prepared and well positioned you are, the more likely luck and timing will go your way.

9) Take risks.

  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out on a limb. Take a leap of faith. Do it while you’re young before becoming too cynical and jaded about the world.

10) Never give up.

  • If you don’t succeed at first, then keep trying. Redouble your efforts and revise your strategy periodically, as needed.

By acting on these points and principles in a strategic manner you may soon find unique job opportunities opening up before your eyes.

Your dream job may even materialize, just as it did for me when I was of a certain age.


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* All views and opinions are those of the author only.

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Leland L. "Ted" Cogdell, Jr.

Good stuff, David. I’ll share this with the twins when they get home from school. They sure have some big dreams, as you did as a boy–as we all did, probably.

I would just add one thought that comes to mind. Number four above has me thinking about how everyone seems to want to have a mentor these days. Well, that’s all well and good, but it really helps if your mentor also wants to be your champion, advocate, and sponsor in what you want to achieve. These are additional roles, and that should be understood. I see lots of mentoring programs popping up, but these programs should be much more than a lunch once in awhile and a meeting here and there. When you get the whole package, your propensity for career success and happiness increases considerably.

Carol Kruse

I’m a BB, and these sound great to ME, who is right now looking for a job. Thank you for the common sense, rational thought, and boost of Possibility, David! Going to post these at my desk and at home so I can see them several times daily.

David B. Grinberg

TED — Thanks so much for your comments, which I appreciate. You make an excellent point about mentors and getting “the whole package.” Exemplary feedback, as usual. Good luck with the twins!

CAROL — Thank you for the kind words, I’m much obliged. I’ve found that a little inspiration can go a long way. I wish you well with the job search and everything else. Remember, it’s only impossible if one gives up before even trying. You know that saying, a good attitude = altitude.

Carol Kruse

MORE good wisdom, thank you for those good quips — I’d actually not heard either of those.

And I’d also like to second what Ted says about mentoring. So many of the new, formal mentoring programs that are available for purchase are just schedules for meetings and paperwork filed…there is little real coaching involved, let alone advocacy. It depends on the specific mentor and mentee, I’m sure, but I can’t think many of the formalized programs are very effective.

Bob Fritz

Great information. Exactly what many of us non-government employees and small business owners tout when we counsel Millenials. Focusing these 10 points on a lifelong government position highlights the traits that separate entrepreneurs from employees. My approach is to apply #2-10 to #1 and venture out on your own. Concluding that “…you may soon find unique job opportunities opening up before your eyes” is only applicable to a limited dream. The economy grows when individuals venture out from the safety of a “dream job”. The Founders never envisioned lifelong government service, and none of them practiced it.

David B. Grinberg

Bob, thanks very much for the constructive feedback which is appreciated. A few thoughts:

1) I’m not suggesting that everyone’s dream job should be lifelong gov service, although there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Young people’s dream job should be whatever they want it to be.

2) Gov employees are hard-working, dedicated and patriotic Americans committed to serving the public, even if some private sector folks don’t see it that way. You may want to read my post: Federal Salary: It’s About Principles, Not Pay (Nov. 2012).

3) There are plenty of innovators in government, even though gov innovation may get a bad rap by some private sector folks who have never worked in the public sector.

4) One of my points was not to have a “limited dream”. As I wrote, “Be bold and think big…Take risks, don’t be afraid to put yourself out on a limb. Take a leap of faith.” I don’t consider that limited thinking.

5) Since many folks never land their dream job, I’m not sure there’s much “safety” to it — as you say.

6) Your point about “the economy grows…” Just remember it was the public sector creating jobs during the aftermath of the Great Recession when the private sector unemployment rate was skyrocketing. Moreover, some people have broader visions in life than just “economic growth”.

7) Were you around to have this conversation with “The Founders”? I think not. Thus your assertions henceforth are speculative. Personally, I think the Founding Fathers would be proud of citizens who dedicate their lives and/or careers to public service. Isn’t that exactly what the Founders did?

Again, I appreciate your valuable views and important insights. Thanks for the feedback, kind sir.