There are self-help books for everything. Most of them just reiterate things you already know. For the right price people buy these things just to feel more confident making decisions that they would have made anyway or to feel more confident doing things they can already do. So what should you think if you see the new "personal development" book "Dorm Rooms to Boardrooms" by Victoria Pilate?
No surprises, it's just another one of those self-help books.
As the subtitle so keenly points out, the book serves as "A Guide For all Majors In Making the Transition from College to the Real World." And, as you may have guessed, making the transition from the student life to the working life is something we can all do just fine without a guide. But the book does make you feel more confident about the change of pace.
The author mixes in some of her real world experience with that of other professionals in a well-organized book that makes you feel better about moving into a career after college. Pilate interviews more than 200 people to get their advice on such topics as writing resumes to dealing with "deadbeat roommates." And that is just in the first chapter. From there, "Dorm Rooms to Boardrooms" moves from finding that first post-college job to "Hitting the Pavement," to coping well in your career in the later chapters "Living the Good Life" and "Reports, Meetings, and Presentations."
"Dorm Rooms to Boardrooms" also has many helpful text boxes that point out interesting statistics and quotes from some of the quality interview responses. One of the best ones covers what to do if you don't have a job right after you graduate. It urges the jobless to flex their creative and investigative muscles as they pursue more permanent employment opportunities through networking. "Write for [a] local paper or alumni magazine including doing interviews. You get experience, you meet others who may have job leads, and you build a portfolio. Even science graduates could use a portfolio that includes a published writing sample."
Of course there are many other great tips throughout the book, but it is, for the most part, advice that many college graduates won't need. This self-help guide, as one of the many before it, just gathers in writing all the lessons that can be learned on a subject through personal experience. If you desire a successful career, get an internship, work hard, pay attention and you will save yourself the time and money it takes to read a self-help book like "Dorm Rooms to Boardrooms." It's doubtful any of the Fortune 500 executives ever read a book like this and got anything more than a little extra self-confidence.
Pilate's new book gives readers the courage they will need to be successful, only not in the way she probably intended. The book covers almost every nook and cranny when it comes to career-related issues, but it soon becomes monotonous. Through their own personal experiences, many college students will have gained most of the advice and experience Pilate can hand out. With every part-time job and volunteer stint a student commits to, he gains invaluable experience and will receive endless advice from co-workers and bosses. This is more important and useful than reading about how to use that experience. If the job or internship is done well, the student will have received all the insight she can handle.
"Dorm Rooms to Boardrooms" does give some good advice though, like make sure to include any fast food experience you have on every resume — if you are detailed enough in describing the job, it is bound to sound better and more demanding than it really was. Even this minor embellishment will increase your chances of getting hired. Seriously.
Grade: 2 out of 5 circles.