Most of us have questioned what we decided to major in. We wondered if it would become a good job or if it was the best choice for us. Well, wonder no more. Katharine Brooks puts us at ease in her new book, “You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career.” She shows us that no matter what we majored in, we can still reach the career of our dreams.
1–A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings and You Find A Job: Chaos and Your Career Path
To be fair, I consider myself an experienced job hunter. Being from a journalism background, I have completed a pile of research on how to get a job and what my career path will look like. That being said, I was not impressed with the first chapter of Brooks’ book. I felt that I could have written it. She starts off by explaining that our career is not a linear path by matching up people by their major with the jobs they ended up in that were distantly related to their major. This is suppose to be shocking, but I believe that the average college graduate knows that it is likely that they will end up in a different field from their chosen major. She goes on by explaining the chaos theory and how it works into your career.
2–Connecting the Dots: Uncovering the Power of Your Wanderings
This is what I call the soul searching piece of the book. Brooks challenges readers to create a web of significant things that you have done and things that are of interest to you. When you have completed this task, she has you put them into categories and identify the themes. This is a wandering map. I found this exercise useful, even though it is very simple. How many people actually take the time to complete this exercise? The idea is to find the career that you didn’t know you took an interest in, but was right under your nose!
3–Mental Wanderings: Your Mind Can Take You Anywhere or Nowhere
This chapter is about good thinking, which is key if you are looking for a job. In this economy, it is even more important than ever to have a positive attitude. If you think that an employer is going to hire someone that is down and depressed because they haven’t found a job in the last six months, think again. Your attitude plays a big role in whether you get the job or not. Keep that negative thinking away. Brooks explains the 10 mindsets that employers are seeking, which include: problem solving, systems, creative, strategic, positive, global, collaborative, analytic, reflective and flexible.
4–Wandering Beyond Majors and Minors: Make Your Education Relevant to Any Employer
The idea is to make your classes and experiences relevant to any employer. This seems like common sense, but how often do job seekers miss this opportunity? Brooks helps you capitalize on your experiences and pull material out of classes that you have taken. If you haven’t realized this from the previous chapters, you will want to get a journal or large pad of paper to use while reading this book. It is a hands on, workbook style read. You will need a journal to discover what your past experiences yield to future employers.
5–Why Settle for One Career When You Can Have Ten: The Wise Wanderer Explores the Future
Brooks challenges readers to identify their possible lives. What if you became a writer or a FBI agent? No matter how apart careers are on the spectrum, they are attainable. Get out your journal and create another map. This time about all of your possible options. Are you considering graduate school or the Peace Corps.? It is time to create a vision and see if you can picture your life in that career. This would be a good exercise to do when deciding upon a major when entering college and when choosing a career after college.
6–Even Wanderers Make Plans: Where Are You Now and Where Do You Want to Go?
This chapter works on assessing the present and choosing a future based off of past exercises. Brooks leads readers through creating a possibility plan. This plan consists of a goal, what it takes to attain the goal and the time frame for completing the goal. For example, your goal can be to take the GRE. Brooks pushes you to work on your plans. She goes as far as asking what you will do in the next 24 hours to promote your plan, which she does at the end of most chapters. In this sense, Brooks works as an inspiration to accomplish your dreams. Since it is only a book, you have to push yourself to act.
7–Paging Dr. Frankenstein: Experimental Wanderings with Big Payoffs
Brooks has readers explore the fields that they are interested in. What are the jobs in that field? What are the entry level jobs? All of these are things that I wish I had thought about before graduations, which is why I recommend buying this book before you are a graduate. You will get more mileage out of it this way. Brooks tells you how to engage with people to make your dreams come true. She asks readers to be curious and let people know what they are interested in. I felt this chapter was a little to late for me, since I am graduating in two weeks! It gave suggestions for summer jobs, internships and study abroad experiences that would help your wandering. These ships have sailed for most graduates. But the idea of interacting with people and networking is timeless.
8–My Job as a Krackel Bar: Creating Irresistible Resumes That Will Get You the Interview
Brooks is your personal resume adviser as you put yourself on paper. She asks if you can visualize your writing and if you have spelled everything correctly. She just might save you a trip to the career center, though if you were smart you would still book yourself an appointment. She asks readers to keep in mind who they are writing to. This is an important step that I feel many college graduates miss. They write up one resume, call it good and send it out like a massive text message. Resumes and cover letters must be custom tailored for the job.
9–Channel Jane Austen: Writing That Will Get You Hired
Its time to write that cover letter! Brooks will take you through her five-step method for crafting a cover letter and help you format the letter accordingly. While this chapter was a good review, I knew most everything that was in it. If I had read it a couple of years back, I would have found it more helpful. Hence, why I think this book should be marketed to a younger, still-in-college crowd.
10–Wandering Into the Workplace: Interviewing and Impressing
So your resume and cover letter did the trick and you have the interview. Now what? All of Brooks’ past exercises and strategic planning should already have you a leg up for the interview. That kind of deep soul searching will come in handy when you are faced with questions about yourself and your future plans. But, Brooks is back with more insight and advice to get you through the process. She outlines different types of interviews and how to create compelling stories at the interview. She will help you create strategies to best communicate your experiences and ultimately land the job.
11–Wandering After Graduation–You Mean the Chaos Continues?
The last chapter is all about graduates. My favorite part was, “It’s September and I still don’t have a job.” This is very appropriate for the economy that graduates are facing. The statement is remedied by the fact that this negative attitude is not helpful. Brooks is right, yet too many of us fall into this trap. She answers other common questions and then recaps the highlights of the other chapters.
The end of the book is filled with resources such as websites and blogs for job seekers. This is only 18 sites to check out, including ones that should already be known such as coolworks.com, linkedin.com and jobsearch.about.com. In my eyes, this is not a real help, but you might find a website or two that you didn’t know of before. In the hit or miss category, I say that this book is a hit. I recommend buying it well before graduation, perhaps even freshman year. It is important to start the career exploring process early as to get in those internships and summer jobs that can add experience or let you know that that it is not the career for you. I also recommend purchasing a fat journal to help you personalize your read. For more information and job advice, visit Brooks’ blog on the Psychology Today website, called Career Transitions. To order yourself a copy of Brooks’ book, check out Powell’s Books or Barnes and Noble. Also, check out the book’s website with special sections for educators, parents and students.