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15 Little Life Hacks

Book Review: The Brazen Careerist (and a book giveaway)

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(The bottom of this review has a giveaway for 3 free books and 1 grand prize of a 30-minute phone call with the author of the book.)

Pluralistic ignorance is a fascinating concept in social psychology. It’s a phenomenon “which involves several members of a group who think that they have different perceptions, beliefs, or attitudes from the rest of the group” (more). For example, Prentice and Miller, two Princeton social psychologists, found that college students tend to think other students drink more than they actually do. Schroeder and Prentice noted that “the majority of students believe that their peers are uniformly more comfortable with campus [drinking] than they are.” This means that

“…because everyone who disagrees behaves as if he or she agrees, all dissenting members think that the norm is endorsed by every group member but themselves. This in turn reinforces their willingness to conform to the group norm rather than express their disagreement. Because of pluralistic ignorance, people may conform to the perceived consensual opinion of a group, instead of thinking and acting on their own perceptions” (source)

I find this time and time again when I talk to my friends. People will say things like, “Everyone’s earning $70,000/year when they graduate, so I should, too.” Or “nobody lives with their parents so it would be embarrassing if I did.” We often make decisions based on what we see of our friends, but we don’t see the bigger picture and realize the differences in internal attitudes and behaviors across individuals and groups. Pluralistic ignorance colors our decision-making and the worst part is, we don’t even know it.

That’s why I like the new book by Penelope Trunk, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. Penelope writes for the Boston Globe and Yahoo Finance (she’s covered me before), and she has an attitude. I mean that in a good way: Unlike so many books for young people, this one reads like a real person wrote it, not a damn robot. You can actually hear her in her writing. Now, she and I disagree about some career-related things, but she does a great job explaining her reasoning.

And her advice is good. She talks about issues we care about – living with our parents, getting our first job, negotiating salaries, starting a company, how to make ends meet – but reassures us that the things we feel guilty about are actually very common (see my thoughts about young people and guilt here).

For example, she writes that “Job-hopping in your early twenties is a great idea – especially if you’re still sleeping at your parents’ house. After all, the point of this period in life is to find the right work for you. But if the job-hopping doesn’t stop by age thirty, the feeling of instability intensifies to crisis.” How many of your friends don’t know what they want to do, but feel pressured to pick one single job and focus on it?

I know plenty. I also know plenty of friends who don’t know what they want to do, so they go back to grad school. Penelope shows a better way to think that decision.

That’s what’s interesting about the book: It includes not only advice on how to think about large, ambiguous topics like going back to grad school and office politics, but also includes tactical advice that’s actually good. When it comes to creating your resume, for instance, she writes,

One page. That’s it. I don’t care if you are the smartest person on earth or if you have founded six companies and sold each of them for $10 million. The point of a resume is to get you an interview, not a job.”

She writes excellent tactical advice for building your cover letter, negotiating your salary, writing a resume that stands out (“Ditch the line about references on request. It’s implied. Of course if someone wants a reference, you will give one”).

But more than tactical advice, she uses research from places like Harvard Business School – not just her personal opinions – to remind us not to feel guilty about what we’re doing. For instance, did you know that 50% of the Class of 2003 was still living at home 3 years later?

This book reminds me to stop fighting against the same things that everyone else my age is struggling with. If I wanted to live at home so I can afford to take a low-paying job that I love, that chapter on living at home would be worth the book alone. In other words, stop worrying and feeling guilty about what other people think and focus on the important goals. The best thing a book can do is reassure us, refocus us, and then give us the tools to do more than we thought we could do. This book is a great start.

Brazen Careerist isn’t perfect, of course. It’s overly list-y for my tastes, reading in some parts like a “Top 10 Reasons to…” blog post. Also, the book is itself a bit unfocused, with points on starting your own business, perfecting your resume, working with your manager, optimizing your personal life, and doing yoga (?). But the number of insights I got from the book made up for it.

A few things that stood out to me:

  • The importance of telling stories on page 52 is absolutely 100% true. So many people take the engineering-esque mindset of “If I just explain my accomplishments, they’ll understand.” Wrong. Craft a story and you win.
  • A controversial and pointed suggestion about harassment on page 123 (“Use harassment to boost your career”). I don’t know what I think about this, but I’m curious to see others’ reactions.
  • A pointed reminder to ask your company to pay for your training on page 178. Not only will you be more valuable to your company, your career will be enhanced. It just takes you asking.
  • One more thing: What the hell is wrong with young people being afraid of using the phone? One of my stupid friends lost his Wells Fargo password and looked completely helpless. “Hey idiot,” I told him, “why don’t you just call them and get your password?” “Umm…,” he said like a beaten, sad man, “it’s not that important. I’ll just wait until I go in there next time.” On page 42, Penelope lays out why to use the phone. Key point: “You can’t lose making a cold call. No one ever says to themselves, ‘I wish I hadn’t been so aggressive in trying to get what I wanted.’”)

The book is good. So is the blog. And Penelope is a great woman with tons of interesting thoughts about career issues.

4 prizes
Penelope generously agreed to provide 4 prizes for iwillteachyoutoberich readers.

  • 3 free signed, pre-release copies of The Brazen Careerist. As a special bonus, if you leave a comment with your best career story, 10 people will win pre-released, signed copies of The Brazen Careerist. The story can be about your best job, your biggest mistake, what you did on your job search, what your friends did during their college interviews…anything. Just make it interesting! Leave a comment now.
  • The grand prize: a 30-minute call with Penelope Trunk, the author and columnist for Yahoo Finance and the Boston Globe.1 commenter will win the grand prize, a 30-minute phone call with Penelope to chat about your career and anything else. Remember, she’s a columnist for the Boston Globe and Yahoo Finance, so if you’re interesting, maybe your story will show up in the future.

[Update]: Again, the comments on this post are astonishing and honest and, in some cases, disturbing. I honestly believe that some of the best comments being made anywhere online today are right here on this post.

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Soukyan
Soukyan
9 years 4 months ago
I hopped jobs AND majors throughout my twenties. Now I am 30 and working on a graduate degree in a field that I enjoy. I can’t say that I feel pressured to catch up with friends and colleagues as I see many of them are struggling with their careers because they aren’t doing what makes them happy. To me, that means they will remain unhappy or they need to start over, so I’m not so bad off in comparison. At any rate, I may be at the end of the target age range for the book, but it looks to… Read more »
Renee
9 years 4 months ago
Good advise and great article! One good question to ask yourself when deciding on a career or job is, “Would I do this even if I was not getting paid?” When I started down my career path, I chose a path that I thought was a way to make a living. Now, I am in the process of getting back to my passion and searching for a way to generate an income while I live. After many different boring jobs, I now realize that I would be in a totally different place if I had started with the career that… Read more »
shawna
9 years 4 months ago
Seems like an interesting read. I’m wondering if there is any advice in it on what to do when you have an interviewer that is not an effective interviewer? I’m job hunting right now and I have encountered more than one interview where I have actually had to lead the interview! And bu this I mean that the interviewer did not really know what to ask, etc. so I had to lead her. And when you have an interview where all the questions are stiff form questions – how do you make yourself stand out? The story thing has worked… Read more »
homeimprovementninja
9 years 4 months ago

I think that when you are young, it’s the best time to job hop. After you begin your career, much of your future progress is path-dependent and will be affected increasingly by past choices. As you get older, it’s harder and harder to switch trains (especially if you have a family and financial obligations like a house).

Andre
Andre
9 years 4 months ago

First three get a copy, is that it? Oh, well, I just lost it. But I will go after the book anyway 🙂
Oh, and maybe I’ll post a career story later.

Chris R.
Chris R.
9 years 4 months ago
I dont have a very good story, but I got out of college last may with a degree in Econ. I was frantically searching for an IT job because I needed a job and I needed money. I basically took the first job that came around – its a good job, dont get me wrong, I just dont know if its what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I have been looking at other career paths, but since I already have a job, I am not looking for a different job very hard. I’ve been… Read more »
Stephen
Stephen
9 years 4 months ago

As a graduating college senior moving into my first full-time job, the main advice I can give to college students is to JOB HUNT EARLY! I eliminated all of the stress of searching for a job by having one set up only a couple of months into my senior year. I was able to relax and concentrate on school work and getting ready for my job while my friends were stuck traveling for interviews and stressing about what to do post-graduation.

S
S
9 years 4 months ago
Funny Story? Funny Career Related Story for a Young Youth? Here’s two… Why “respecting” your coworkers is vital… (true story) During my junior year of college, a best friend named “Mike” got an internship at a big san diego photonics company. Though an electrical engineer by study, his heart was always for management. For his first week at work he bought a new black suit with an oh so powerful “power tie” (three of them actually). A little much for a college engineering intern wouldn’t you say? So it turns out that during his first week as the “college intern… Read more »
Jason
Jason
9 years 4 months ago
One of the biggest lessons I learned in the workplace happened on a casual Friday. I was at the office in a t-shirt and jeans, which was acceptable per the dress code, but the VP of HR made an off-hand “you look pretty casual today” comment to me. He was very rude about it, and I was a little put off by the whole thing since a lot of people were dressed more casually than I was, but I got the point that I needed to dress better. Now I make a point to dress more professionally than the average… Read more »
S
S
9 years 4 months ago
Trust me to slap you silly. Last year my company was ordering the usual branded giveaways for the students at a local university. The problem was the stuff we looked at was BORING. Catalogs showed logo key chains (who really uses those anyway) logo lanyards (screams “I made this at camp”) and the like. I have to thank my musician friend Curtis Peoples for the big idea. I saw something on his merch table that really caught my eye. So one morning I came to my boss’ office and told him what the college students would really like. “Slap bracelets.”… Read more »
Kinney
9 years 4 months ago
I am currently working in the family business (real estate) and am in quite a conundrum. I want to be sucessful on my own, but know that I am learning valuable lessons from people that are very good at what they do. I keep looking at jobs that I know I wouldn’t like as much because I wouldn’t be working for my dad. Much like the “living with parents” above. I know I will stay where I am, because I am getting experience and I enjoy what I am doing, I just need a side project to do my own… Read more »
J.R.
J.R.
9 years 4 months ago
I got 9 interviews and 3 job offers from one college career fair. The same career fair where my friends came back empty handed saying “no one is hiring, they’re just there for show. The economy is bad.” So what is the difference between them and me? Was it that I had a better GPA? No, mine is abysmal, I graduated with a 2.09 (I listed 3.2 as my ‘Major GPA’, which was indeed the gpa of my major related classes). Was it my sexy and prestigious degree? No, I failed out of electrical engineering (and georgia tech entirely, hence… Read more »
E.H.
E.H.
9 years 4 months ago
I’m in the final year of my master’s degree, and I recently landed a job with one of the most sought after it-consultancies in my country. I don’t have a 4.0 GPA, instead I’ve been focusing a lot on my own consulting/contracting business during my years in college. During one of my interviews, the interviewer revealed that they don’t really hire people with 4.0 GPAs, at which point I had somewhat of an epiphany: If you do what you want, you’ll get what you want. Doing all these things on the side, and to some degree neglecting my school work,… Read more »
AMD
AMD
9 years 4 months ago
I am a recent college graduate (1yr) with a background in engineering. Just over a year ago, I was tripping out about being so close to graduation and not having a single job offer on the table. Unlike many people I know, I could not imagine not being in school and not having a job (or not doing something else productive with my life). I knew that my dream job wasn’t going to fall on my lap. I don’t even think I was sure of what my dream job was. I just applied to every possible career relevant job that… Read more »
Chris
Chris
9 years 4 months ago

So Far my biggest career mistake was following my wife across the country without first lining up a job. With a degree in Sociology and not a clue what to do with it (except pay back the loans) here I am in a job that is the same day after day. But at least it has given me some time to work on a finance plan. Not a terribly interesting story but I am not a writer. Cheers.

Kate
9 years 4 months ago
After college I took the first job I was offered. It was at a Fortune 500 company, but I absolutely hated it. The company offered to send everyone in our department to 2 American Marketing Assoc. luncheons a year, where we could learn about the current trends. I’d always been told about how the best jobs come from knowing someone, or networking, and not of Monster or HotJobs. So I found a luncheon I thought looked interesting, and went. There was a networking portion before the program started. Being fresh out of college, and never having been to an AMA… Read more »
Eric
Eric
9 years 4 months ago
My best advice for job seekers is to make a job out of the search itself. It’s easy to slip into sleeping late, not showering, and searching for job postings from your dimly lit bedroom in your sweatpants. Instead, get up early, shower, shave, and get dressed like you’re going to work. Commute to the library or career center at the local university and spend the day researching companies and careers. Go out and meet some people at a bar or networking event. You’ll get a lot more out of your search that way and you’ll feel better about yourself.… Read more »
laura
laura
9 years 4 months ago
I graduated last year from a great college with a degree in a specific field where I have lots of internship experience and a clear passion for the subject. Feeling confident about my prospects, I moved somewhere where I’m not fluent in the language to be with my boyfriend and because I love the city. I still expected to have career success, because of my degree and skills; but in the end I have had to make it as a penny-pinching freelancer. Every single job (I do catering, research for a consultant, and web design, among others) has come about… Read more »
Aditya Kothadiya
9 years 4 months ago
Hi Ramith and Penelope, I would like to share my story of job search after Graduation. The story has happy ending of getting 6 job offers from World’s top 5 Companies like Microsoft, Intel, Broadcom, Freescale Semiconductor, Altera. Here is how I achieved that – Dream Big: I believed in “dream big” attitude. Once in a casual conversation with my friends, I had shared my dream with them, that I will secure a job in one of the World’s Top 5 companies. I had no clue how was I going to achieve it. But it was a dream that time.… Read more »
Matt J
Matt J
9 years 4 months ago
I lay in bed fretting the night before, trying to think of just the right words to say to a boss and mentor. How do you say “I’m leaving”? My first job after university was with a Big 4 accounting firm. While I knew all along, this would not be a long term career choice, I ended up working for a partner who mentored me and provided me with significant opportunities to grow and develop. He went to bat against HR, first to bring me on board, then to give me a pay increase, and finally to obtain an early… Read more »
Jason
Jason
9 years 4 months ago
My advice…use any and all avenues to find what you are looking for, whether it be that first job or finding the right way to create a budget. When I graduated from grad school I, like so many other young, aspiring graduates, started sending out resumes to as many prestigious firms that I could find in my area. I thought that I was above perusing the classifieds or using other traditional means of finding a job. “I had a new diploma in my hand,” I thought. When I got all my rejection letters back from the “prestigious” firms I decided… Read more »
The Editorialiste
9 years 4 months ago

I couldn’t agree more about cold calling.

It took a lot of pandering before I made my first cold call in college, but it ended up nabbing me my best first clips (which I used to bolster my application to graduate school) as well as some in-demand, big-name internships.

Amazing what fear can do to one’s career path! Cold calling is a barrier-breaker.

Cheers,
The Editorialiste.

Ryan
9 years 4 months ago
I’ve done pretty well with my cover letters over the years. They’re personalized, clever, and demonstrate my knowledge of the company. I love responding to job postings that are written with a distinctive voice, rather than just being sterile corporate speak. I play off their style with some of my own. One company in particular had a job posting that hooked me immediately. I sent back something quite similar, and immediately got an interview. But when I got there, the interviewer was not at all what I had expected. He had me do some interesting tasks, but he didn’t seem… Read more »
Scarfish
Scarfish
9 years 4 months ago
What a timely post on an interesting book. When I left college, I moved across the country for an unpaid internship which I ended up hating. I stayed in NYC working at Starbucks until I got a job doing marketing (which I had no experience in) for a radio company (which I had very little experience in). It ended up being a lot of fun but after a couple years, I got bored. I wanted to work in publishing, which is notoriously difficult to get into AND notoriously low-paying. I managed to land an entry-level position with a prestigious publishing… Read more »
J.B.
J.B.
9 years 4 months ago
I job-hopped a fair amount in my early 20s and landed at a PR gig that I wasn’t thrilled about. I tried to make the most of it, though, by going to luncheons and PR functions that put me in touch with other people in my field. One of these lunches featured a panel of experts, and one of the panelists was a guy who worked at a company I really wanted to work for. After I read in his bio that he had attended my university, I charged right up to him when the session was over, bonded with… Read more »
Sandy
Sandy
9 years 4 months ago
I had a job interview for an executive assistant position in the political field. Extremely nervous, and doing my best not to show it, I was asked to wait for several minutes in the lobby. Finally my prospective boss appeared to welcome me into the offices. I rose to greet him and his current assistant….. and I tripped. I didn’t fall, but I came close. And I got the job. On my first day, I asked the former assistant what stood out during the interview and she told me that I had managed to recover from an embarrassing situation by… Read more »
Charlie
Charlie
9 years 4 months ago
I had a recent example of pluralistic ignorance. I work at a ‘prestigious’ firm for people just out of undergrad (think top tier consulting or banking), where the perception is that everyone goes straight to business school after a few years at the firm. Because of that, I was feeling pressure to also apply to B-school even though I knew that I didn’t really want to for a number of reasons. I went as far as taking the GMAT, creating online accounts for my applications, and outlining essays. Then I actually sat down and made a list of the people… Read more »
adam
adam
9 years 4 months ago
The story I usually tell (true story!!) is when I am asked about dealing with irate customers or employees. In college, I worked part time in an ice cream store and we would often do tricks with the ice cream to entertain customers and encourage them to give us tips. Early one morning, I hadn’t quite ‘warmed up’ yet and attempted to throw a scoop of ice cream behind my back and catch it on a waffle cone, something I had done countless times with a pretty good success rate. Needless to say the ice cream didn’t go into the… Read more »
Marisa
Marisa
9 years 4 months ago
I’m almost thirty. I have a career I love, but it has nothing to do with my degrees. I have an English BA. I worked in the non-profit sector for a year after college, but decided to go on to grad school because I couldn’t figure out what I could really *do* with an English degree. I went on to get an MA in History. While working on my PhD (also in History), I took a position in IT at my University just to make some extra money. It was a “soft” position – not at all technical – but… Read more »
Brian
9 years 4 months ago

Penelope wrote an article a month or so ago about blogging as a networking tool and I think she’s spot on. I’ve been blogging for a little over a month and have been contacted by 5 or 6 people who work in my industry who I wouldn’t have “met” otherwise. More importantly, someone contacted me about a job opening and I have a phone interview with his boss this afternoon.

topseekrit
9 years 4 months ago
I would have to say that I fell pray to the ‘do what everyone else is doing’ when I graduated in Spring ’05 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. I wanted to work in the Defense Industry and landed my dream job. As a minority female in the Engineering field, I felt pressured to make it happen at a big time Defense Contractor. I landed the job, and tt turned out not to be so rosey as I’d hoped. After 6 short months I was looking for work. It took me 5 whole months to find another job! I’m now… Read more »
Brian
Brian
9 years 4 months ago
I am a 27 year old who did everything wrong as an undergraduate. I went to an engineering school and studied History and Political Science. Foolishly, I majored in History and Political Science because I excelled in those subjects in high school, and felt I wasn’t good enough to branch off into another area (such as business or computer science). I was afraid of failure. I combined my foolishness with a complete lack of forward thinking and laziness. I was aware that internships were somewhat important, and even contacted a professor about helping me get one. But, by the time… Read more »
J.R.
J.R.
9 years 4 months ago

Not that this is a democracy, but I vote for #19 to win the grand prize. Clearly they want the phone interview. And they’ve asked for it. More importantly, they carefully planned out an appropriate response to reach their goals. This was exactly what I was talking about in my post. I applaud Aditya.

Brad Maier
Brad Maier
9 years 4 months ago
Hi Ramit, Honestly, I don’t have a career story because I don’t want a career. I want a life. I’m working right now to start a business that coincides with what I enjoy doing everyday. A business that I wont mind working on and definitely something I won’t refer to as a “job”. If I fail I will have at least gained valuable experience. Experience that is likely superior to what I’d get at the entry level. Besides, you only fail when you stop trying, so I don’t see failure in my future. Anyway, you often tell us that if… Read more »
Arthur
9 years 4 months ago
I’m one of the many mid-twenties- college graduate- -still don’t know what the heck I want out of a career- guys. I got a degree because that’s what you were supposed to do after high school. I’m married and am very active outside of work, so for now I’m happy with whatever will pay the bills and allow me to spend time doing what I love outside of work (while paying off a mortgage, etc.). Although I wouldn’t say I have a “career” at all, I have already learned an important lesson. The last two job offers that I accepted… Read more »
Andrew
9 years 4 months ago
I entered college as a information technology major. Oddly, all I’ve ever wanted to do for a career was write. I new it back when I was in high school, and I sure as hell knew it when I was suffering through classes on programing in college. I was good with computers, but I looked in horror to a work life of hell centered around fixing printers for idiots. The only reason I had avoided English was for fear of low paying jobs, and as my Freshmen year drew to a close, I realized that doing what I loved was… Read more »
Willie
Willie
9 years 4 months ago
My mistake was taking a job right after graduation — succumbing to the pressure of a stable job, to the fear and ambivalence of life after college. So I took the first job offer from a reputable company in defense contracting. “Good money, a stable job, what else could you possibly want?” my friends would say. In my own foolishness and confidence, I thought so too. But I have had 2 years to learn the hard way that I was wrong. Not only was I not happy with my job, I still do not know what I want to do.… Read more »
Liz
Liz
9 years 4 months ago
Before I graduated from college I decided my first real-world job should be working abroad. It seemed like a simple enough goal to me. I was realistic in expecting that the search would be a challenge. I was an above average student but I didn’t go to Stanford and I didn’t have any hard-to-find skills. Nonetheless, I wanted to get paid and work in my field. I figured there had to be a way. Anything is possible, right? After graduation, I continued working at my college supplemental hostess job. I continued living with the budget of a student. I sent… Read more »
Almost 30
Almost 30
9 years 4 months ago
I was harassed by both of the partners in my company at different times. I love the company because it’s small, growing, and it provides a service that I believe in. Emotionally, it was challenging to get over, but I didn’t feel like quitting something I enjoyed because my bosses couldn’t control themselves. 6 months later I have to agree with the comment “Use harassment to boost your career.” I was able to get past it and learn from the situations. It has made me realize many things; that the bosses are human, it has given me more courage to… Read more »
Carise
Carise
9 years 4 months ago
Networking in college really helped me land my first job. A friend managed to convince his boss to hire me as a contractor without an interview. I don’t have the best school transcripts, but I’m blessed with being able to learn fairly quickly. On the flip side, I found my second job with the help of a recruiter who was doing a cold call. I probably did everything wrong (that one can possibly do) in an interview – I admitted I didn’t know how to solve a particular problem but if I had a manual, I’d figure it out, I… Read more »
Sarah
9 years 3 months ago
I mostly grew up in the US, moved over 1,000 miles to attend a college in the northeast, and instead of studying abroad, did my Master’s in England. Fell in love with England, as many people do, and about three months before my course ended, I got an IT support job at the university I was studying at. I hadn’t really been expecting to stay in England (didn’t really think I knew enough to get the job when I applied, and I wasn’t spectacular in the interview), but given that everything was falling into place, I decided to go with… Read more »
Laura
Laura
9 years 3 months ago
By far the most…interesting…job I’ve held landed me in front of multiple clogged toilets with the objective to unclog the monsters. A few weeks earlier I applied for and won the job of Maintenance Manager of my college co-op. My school, UC Berkeley, has a very established and popular co-op system in which small groups of students live in and operated their own homes. My esteemed position of Maintenance Manager came with one huge perk: the much coveted Single Room. It was worth it for that alone. I learned a ton during my tenure and wouldn’t trade it for all… Read more »
Mike
Mike
9 years 3 months ago
During my senior year in college (1998), I interviewed a lot with local NC engineering companies, but my heart was in SoCal. Ever since I could remember, I wanted to try living/surviving in SoCal. Long story short, I never accepted any of my offers straight out of college. Instead, I packed up a Ryder truck and headed west. I finally stopped six days later, on July 4th, in San Diego. Despite sending out literally hundreds of resumes, it took me nearly six months to land my first “civil engineering” job… I was down to about $200 in the bank, loaded… Read more »
Dawn
9 years 3 months ago
Every once in a while at your job, you get to find out how you are valued. My last job was my best job, in many ways. I earned more money than I had before. I had great benefits and worked with bosses that seemed appreciative. I got to learn and try new things. I made several close friends that I still keep in touch with (they closed our office and most of us were laid off after more than five years together, some longer). I worked with hundreds of coworkers on a regular basis and got along swimmingly with… Read more »
Richard
9 years 3 months ago
About 6 years ago, my last year of high school, I had an internship in the IT department in the local city government. Being a typical teenager, I thought I already knew how to do everything that they showed me to do. One day, I was given the task to start re-imaging all the new PC’s we just got in. They showed me how to do it, but of course I thought I already knew how it was to be done. After about 30 minutes of re-imaging these machines (15 at a time), I get a call from my boss.… Read more »
Aaron S
Aaron S
9 years 3 months ago
After graduating with a degree in civil engineering in May of 2004, I took a job with a slightly below average salary for my field in a city I loved in the upper midwest. My living expenses were probably higher than they should have been for my age and income and to top it off, my student loan grace period was over and another $300/mo was coming out of my pocket. I was scared that I was having trouble saving. I simply did not think I had the money to save much or contribute to any investments or retirement plans.… Read more »
Brian
Brian
9 years 3 months ago
Thank you for bringing Penelope’s book and blog to my attention, Ramit. It’s been ten years since I graduated from college, and I’ve been so torn choosing what has value (for me) and what will earn me a living that I’ve ended up paralyzed between them. I’m now thirty-two years old . I work at a university–and I love having access to all that a university environment offers (especially the libraries)–but I end up so exhausted from my day job that I end up not really pursuing my art. I make 26K–the most I’ve ever made–and have no opportunites for… Read more »
Don
Don
9 years 3 months ago
I graduated in December from college, and am now starting my thesis for an M.S. After this, it’s likely that I will continue on for a Ph.D in the same field. Despite this, I really don’t quite know what type of ‘career’ I want to have yet, let alone what specific area. Throughout college (at a good public institution with in-state tuition), while I didn’t have a job outside of a summer research position a couple of years, I watched my spending. I bought books used, tried not to eat out that often, didn’t get new clothes, had no television… Read more »
Jigish
Jigish
9 years 3 months ago
My biggest mistake so far: Has been to not take my past-time activities more seriously and not having tried to excel in them. At 26, I’ve a Bachelors in Engineering (India), Masters in Computer Science (USC) and 2 1/2 years of work experience as a software engineer. I’ve made really good progress at my job. In this time, I got promoted to Sr. Software Engineer and today, I make 50% more than what I earned 2 1/2 years ago (which was a good salary to begin with). However, I find myself a bit stuck when I think of applying to… Read more »
TJ
TJ
9 years 3 months ago
Failed startups make excellent resume material. During my summer before senior year, I decided to start a small company while working on a full time internship. I got together with a friend and worked evenings and weekends to get the company off the ground. The company did modestly; we recovered our initial investment and made a small profit. Once school started, it became difficult to continue with it and we had to eventually close the company down. I however included it prominently on my resume. At all the interviews I attended the interviewers expressed great interest in it. I was… Read more »
sfordinarygirl
9 years 3 months ago
My biggest career mistake was settling for a job just for the sake of having one. I majored in journalism and dreamed of working in newspapers as a reporter. My first job didn’t go very well because I needed to work on my writing so my boss and I agreed to a voluntary separation. So I didn’t know what to do at that point except move back home and feel guilty for months that I failed at being the reporter I wanted. When I came back I started to look for journalism jobs again but at a place where I… Read more »
Dima
9 years 3 months ago
When I got my bachelors degree in Computer Science I realized that I really have not learned anything in past four years. I wanted to work on avionics systems for airplanes so I decided to go to grad school instead (at a different university of course). Fast forward two years, I have a week before I graduate and I have already secured a job working on flight management systems for the top avionics company. Moreover, all four major players in the field were interested in my qualifications. The past two years have been pretty intense, but in the end, it… Read more »
Adil
Adil
9 years 3 months ago
I couldn’t agree more about job hopping until you find something that makes you happy. I graduated 4 years ago and have held as many jobs in 2 continents. I also did a co-op program which placed me in 6 different jobs for a total of 2 years of experience while studying. When else are you going to be able to move around like this than in your twenties? Most people I talk to ask, “But, don’t employers hate it when they see someone who job hops because they view them as not loyal?” It’s true that most interviewers have… Read more »
Liza
9 years 3 months ago
Talk to people, and tell them you’re looking for work. Have chutzpah. I got a great research assistant position in graduate school, because I went to a party where I met a famous (MacArthur Fellow) professor who had just been the subject of an incredibly mean, horrible article in a local magazine. After “nice to meet you,” I told him I’d seen the article, and that what I’d gotten out of it was a question: “Why am I not working for you?” He looked startled, and I basically said that I thought I had the skills he needed to be… Read more »
S
S
9 years 3 months ago
Another true story from my work experience… During my Junior/Senior year of High School I got a job as a telemarketer. With an hourly pay of $9/hr and commission on top of it, I felt it was worth a shot, and get me used to cold calls, phone confidence, etc… Selling products like Girl Gone Wild, Highlander Collectible Items, Gold Coins, Travel Clubs, gets you all sorts of crazy people on the other end, who on top of their normal levels of craziness, hate telemarketers. One day, I placed a call to a lady who really really liked the pitch… Read more »
Ranjan
9 years 3 months ago

I have had over 16 years of work experience and have just realized that I don’t want to continue doing what I’m doing right now. But the thought of making a shift/jump is a bit scary.

I want to shift from mediocrity to something more challenging. Maybe that’s where the book might help.

Penelope is a charmer. Hoping to get the book:)

Brian
9 years 3 months ago

Brian from comment 30 again (don’t enter me in the contest twice), I got the job!!!

And here’s Penelope’s article that I was thinking about (it’s actually about networking, but point 5 is about blogging):
http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/careerist/27020

James
James
9 years 3 months ago
A colleague told me that her dad, a high school principal, got an e-mail from another principal in the state. That principal, in fact, had e-mailed EVERY principal in the state to tell them this story: A candidate for an art teacher position came to interview in jeans, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap. When the principal asked the candidate to come back the next day dressed for an interview, he became indignant. He told her “You obviously don’t know what an art teacher does” and turned to storm out of the office. On his way out he uttered an… Read more »
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midwatchcowboy
9 years 3 months ago

Take advantage of the freedom you have to discover what you hate to do and hopefully, what you love to do. You’ll not feel as free in you career choices if you find yourself married, with a kid or two.

I’m happy that I found my avocation before I found myself responsible for three other people. (but it’s tons of fun)

milqman
milqman
9 years 3 months ago
For a period after my graduation I worked for Intel. The facility was large enough to have it’s own cafeteria (where a majority of employees would normally eat lunch). Well, one day, in the cafeteria, a guy I didn’t know sat down and struck up conversation with everyone who was already there. One thing led to another and I got on my rant about how the work I was doing was trivial, simple, and hardly deserved a college degree as a requirement (I am an engineer). I continued on this path, talking about how this particular job (not career, there’s… Read more »
CheeseLover
CheeseLover
9 years 3 months ago
I am 37 and have hopped around from job to job since college. I average 3-5 yrs at a job and have stopped listening when they talk about pension but pay close attention to 401k and matching etc. This article made me think about my career and what I like/dislike about it. Currently, I am doing Consulting and a large computer retailer and services organization. Let me get to the point… I learned a couple of things years ago that have helped me in deciding where to go next and may at some point help me to decide where to… Read more »
BK
BK
9 years 3 months ago
I’m hoping you’re still accepting comments for the Brazen Careerist book! Here’s a quick run down of my life in the real world as of today. I am currently a graduating senior in my 5th year of college. I took the “average” college student’s path through switching majors several times through college and finally landing in Accounting. I was originally an Economics major that decided Communication was really my thing. I entered the school of communications for a year and a half and built up my transferable skills. However, I didn’t believe that this would be my career path. So… Read more »
John Ratcliffe-Lee
9 years 3 months ago
One word: passion. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today and it’s hard to imagine I’d be able to recount the amazing opportunities I’ve come across over the past year. Half-way through college I took a photography class to fulfill part of my major’s requirements. I started the class not really knowing or caring and by the end of the semester it was 3am during finals week and there I was in the Fine Arts building perfecting and mounting my prints. When you’re passionate about something, everything else is 10x easier. All that “hard work” is worth it,… Read more »
Twich007
Twich007
9 years 3 months ago
Going into college, I wanted to go into advertising, because I loved ‘ideas’ and print media. However, I chose a college for reasons other than it’s advertising department. In fact, I went to a college with no advertising department, so my major was ‘marketing’. Junior year rolls along, and I realize 2 things – 1. that i have enough time to get a second major, and 2. that this marketing degree is teaching me little except for a lot of vocabulary words. I had really liked my intro Finance class and, being more of a math oriented person, I thought… Read more »
Chiru
Chiru
9 years 3 months ago
Very interesting review. 🙂 well I wanted to write about a mistake I did recently when I was moving to a different job. I had a good working relationship with my boss and I wanted to help him out telling him about my move so that he can fill the position soon. But all didn’t go well when his boss came to know about it. They ended up walking me out a week before the day I mentioned on my resignation letter. It was a very unpleasant experience and my boss did not help me at all. One thing I… Read more »
Kimble
9 years 3 months ago
Although I’m just now finishing my first year of work after college, I have to admit that I’ve learned some great lessons. One of the more vivid lessons in my mind happened on my first day at work. I’m an engineer and had interviewed with this particular company once on campus and once at their headquarters. Although I understood that the company was manufacturing and that I would be working at one of their plants, I was completely unprepared for what that actually meant. Thus, as most people do, on the first day I showed up wearing suit slacks, (small)… Read more »
Fusebox
9 years 3 months ago

one page resume??

Interesting. Id like to know what the stats are for people getting interviews with one page resumes.

3 pages is probably more appropriate.

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Jason Alba
9 years 3 months ago
Ramit, you have an amazingly talented readership – awesome comments! Here’s my best career story, in the making. I got laid off in Jan 2006 and began my very first job search (I had always networked into jobs and never “had to” look). After a few weeks I realized that personal, job seeker CRM was something needed and I couldn’t find it anywhere. So I set out to make it (JibberJobber.com) and it is being recommended by career experts across the globe. I always knew I wanted to own my own business but didn’t know that ugly unemployment would be… Read more »
Line
Line
8 years 3 months ago
I have a story to share that actually happened yesterday. I have a friends who after graduating got restless looking and waiting for the right job and instead started working at the sales department in a phone company. She didn’t enjoy it at all, but stayed there for two years since she found it harder and harder to find time to look for other jobs, and she had a steady paycheck coming in – but she really wanted something more challenging. Her work place opened up a copywriting position that they wanted to full up through recruiting internally , and… Read more »
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