Choosing a career should be exciting, but let’s face it, most of the time, it’s stress-inducing at best and panic-inducing at worst. I mean, it’s the rest of your life, right? Yes and no. Sure, it’s a big ol’ decision, but it’s also one that can evolve as you evolve.
So here’s the deal: don’t stress about figuring out your entire career path now, but don’t avoid it, either. Start exploring. Dive into a few meaningful experiences, and get inspired by people doing work you think is totally bad-ass. Are you ready? Good, because we’ve got your reading list right here.
The following books will help you delve into your interests, start paving your career path and get advice on how to follow it:
In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe their Amazing Careers (by Deborah Reber): Sure to inspire, this collection of interviews with highly successful women is loaded with advice straight from the trenches. We love the info about the way cool jobs like television production, but mostly we love how it shows you how to conduct the all-important “informational interview” with people doing work you covet. And the interviews go beyond mere descriptions of job duties, covering everything from what you get to wear to how these women combine their work and family lives. (And yes, we’re biased, since it’s written by our very own Debbie Reber!)
Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to your Perfect Career (by Sheila Curran & Suzanne Greenwald): “What can you do with an English major?” Replace “English” with “Philosophy,” “French” or “Creative Writing,” and you’ve got the question asked of every liberal arts major ever. (No doubt some Roman asked Socrates this same irritating question.) So if your interests veer towards the liberal arts, this is a must-read. Filled with stories of real-life successful students, this book emphasizes the transferable skills the liberal arts offer and ways to capitalize on those skills and fulfill your dreams. In short, you don’t have to major in nuclear physics or business to land great work—you just have to be savvy, and this book tells you how to do it.
Luck is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in your Life and Career (by John Krumboltz and Al Levin): Choosing a career path when you’re 18, selecting the corresponding major and going on to work in exactly that field is rare. No, really…it’s practically nonexistent. Most successful people didn’t end up where they imagined when they were 18. So what’s way more common? Starting with one interest, pursuing it for a while, choosing a different direction and then stumbling your way into a path that’s actually way more “you.” But stumbling into your dream career usually isn’t an accident. This book explains how to make the most of happenstance events in your life—and shape them into career-defining moments.
What Color is Your Parachute? For Teens, (by Carol Christen & Richard Bolles): Perhaps the most “classic” of all career books, What Color is your Parachute? has now been adapted with a teen spin. There’s the ageless material about doing what you love, but then the book includes handy sections like “Making the Most of High School.” Along with tackling your passion, we like how it also spends some time on the skills required to actually land that dream job as well.
What Now? (by Ann Patchett): In her commencement address to her alma mater, acclaimed and bestselling author Ann Patchett asked the question all graduating students ask: “What now?” Be it high school or college (or grad school), we ask this of ourselves. And if we don’t ask it, we can rest assured everyone else will—from our nosy Aunt Frida to our favorite teacher. Patchett traces that question at the transition points of her own life, emphasizing the beauty of not knowing and how to keep moving forward even when the future looks foggy. (Oh, and bonus point…this is a small, very quick read. Curl up on the couch and polish it off in the course of a really big latte.)
All Work and No Pay, by Lauren Berger: There isn’t a computerized assessment or Cosmo quiz in the world that can tell you as much about yourself than a hands-on internship. Internships help you clarify what you do (or don’t!) like about a given field and make your resume soooo much more appealing to future employers who want to know you’ve done more than just sit through lectures. And fortunately for us, the “Intern Queen” is here to tell you how to nail the internship and make the most of it. This book guides you towards capitalizing on your internship and ensuring that it paves the way to a job…one that pays. Want to know more? Here’s a taste of the Intern Queen in action!
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