Three days ago, I graduated from college. Seated in the football stadium with 5,300 of my fellow Tar Heels, I wore yards of Carolina blue nylon, chatted throughout the commencement address, and then tossed my cap skyward. Now I must confront the daunting reality of postcollegiate life: a job.
I am not entirely bereft of future prospects—I have a six-month internship at a magazine in Santa Fe that starts in June. But an internship is not a job, nor is it certain that whatever I think I want to do at age 21 is what I should do with the rest of my life. So, I did what any recovering grad would do: I took a trip to Borders and picked up armloads of career guides to see if they could help me find my calling.
I selected books that would help me figure out what career to pursue as well as those with practical advice on how to obtain that perfect job. Some were helpful on both fronts, and some on neither. All assured me, thankfully, that work doesn't have to be miserable. My crucial considerations included:
Usefulness: How insightful was the text? Did the book tell me something more novel than "follow my dreams"? Did it give me constructive tips?
Applicability: Was the text appropriate for recent graduates? Or more geared toward those in midcareer? If it included profiles of individuals, were their stories interesting and informative?
Readability: Was the tone too reminiscent of a high-school guidance counselor's? Did it pander to college students with its "hip" lingo? Would I consult it again?
The results, from worst to best:
How To Find the Work You Love, by Laurence G. Boldt, 158 pages, $12