Getting From College to Career

College to Career–News Millennial Can Use

By Stuart Nachbar

{mosimage}Before becoming a writer, I spent ten years marketing Web-based job posting and resume tools to college and university career centers. This put me in contact with career counselors at all types of schools each day ranging from community colleges and trade schools to national research universities. For the most part, career counselors are very thoughtful and resourceful people, but they are too often underappreciated and underutilized.

Based on past experience, I venture to guess that only one-third of most graduating college seniors venture inside their career center before they have received their diplomas. That creates a strong market for career books at the bookstores; approximately 1.5 million people received bachelor’s degrees last year and probably 1 million of them did not know what they wanted to do.

Lindsey Pollak’s Getting from College to Career, 90 Things to Do Before You Join The Real World is one book targeted at this market, though the author’s intentions appear to be broader, to get the undecided student to act faster.

Pollak, who took a round-about approach to becoming a writer, starts by using herself as an example. She originally decided to apply to law school because that was what she was told that graduates “do” with a liberal arts degree then, she backed out and networked, first into a Rotary-sponsored scholarship to a graduate woman’s studies program, then later into a writing position on a woman’s business Web site.

If this book sells well among recent graduates, it will be because the reader will consider Pollak more of a peer counselor than a career counselor; she hasn’t done what any other bright college student couldn’t do. Although Pollak is a Yale graduate, I’m sure all of us know non-Ivy Leaguers who got a similar start in their working lives.

Pollak provides numerous tips that are easy to follow; some are obvious such as visit the career center or err on the side of cautious conservatism in dressing for an interview, but some are more interesting because they address the Millennial job seeker. For instance, Pollak does a good job explaining how to use social networking tools such as MySpace and Facebook to advantage, as well as how they can become a job seeker’s downfall. She also does a good job explaining practices of e-mail etiquette. She has also touched on the increased importance of community service to students, colleges and universities as well as employer attitudes towards Millennials in the work place. I wished she had spent more time on these subjects; that would set the book apart from the other titles that share the same shelf space at the bookstore.

The major weaknesses of Getting from College to Career are structural: tips are not organized chronologically, and I found myself reading tips meant for students after I read tips meant for recent graduates. I don’t know if the Millennial reader will have the patience to thumb through the book like that. Pollak’s Web is similarly unstructured.

I also found too much discussion of career coaching, which is a service better utilized by more experienced workers and not students or recent grads; they would be better off working with a college career counselor. I also wished there were more anecdotal stories like Pollak’s personal tale; the targeted reader would relate better to them while they can see how the tips are best put in practice.

But College to Career is not Pollak’s first book; this is her third and she writes numerous pieces on Millennials in the job market. I believe this book is more of a springboard into more detailed works and online services to aid current students who are undecided about a major and career, graduating students who have made their choices and entry level/under-employed workers who want to reconsider them.

Stuart Nachbar operates , a blog on education politics, policy and technology. He was involved with education politics and economic development for two decades as an urban planner, government affairs manager and a software executive. His first novel, The Sex Ed Chronicles, about sex education and school politics in 1980 New Jersey, was published this past fall.

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