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Some students have known that they want to be a doctor or lawyer since preschool. Not everybody's path and goals are so clear though. Whether you are close to graduation or simply want to plan for your life after college, there are books, resources and professionals that can help.
One good place to start is your college's career center. It can provide advice and assistance finding employment, but that might not always be enough. Another option is to seek help from a professional career coach but this option is beyond the price range of many students. On the other hand, buying (or borrowing from your local library) and reading a few books with career and life advice is an excellent way to start.
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What These Books Can Do For You
Career and life planning books can be very helpful in helping students plan for life after they receive their diplomas. Most of the books in this field cover similar issues, albeit from different perspectives. Before you rush out and buy one of these books, it is worthwhile to understand what these books cover and what they do not cover.
- Personality Tests: Most of these books contain exercises and worksheets that help readers better understand their passions, skills and experiences. These exercises help readers to see new connections and career possibilities.
- Introducing the Job Market: You may have had internships or part-time jobs as a college student, but searching for (and getting!) a full-time job is a different story. Typically, you can find advice on how to write a cover letter, resume and network.
- Managing a Budget and Life: Some college students have no trouble managing money but others struggle with high student debt and living costs. By learning how to navigate the confusing world of personal finance better, you can pay off debts faster, save up for trips and even plan for retirement.
- Your First Job: Success at a full-time job requires different skills than being an A student in college - most books in this genre advice readers on how to learn the unwritten rules of the workplace.
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Career Books for College Students
There have been many different career advice books for graduates over the years. Too many of them cover the same ground and make the same points. This short list of leading books in the field gives you the full range of recent books in the genre that cover choosing a career, personal finance and the pursuit of happiness.
- You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career (Katharine Brooks): Written by a widely published career counselor, this book is particularly well suited for liberal arts majors or others struggling to find a path. Brooks's book focuses on career advice and planning; the book's greatest strength is helping students come up with career and employment ideas that take advantage of their experience.
- Generation Earn: The Young Professionals Guide to Spending, Investing and Giving Back (Kimberly Palmer): Palmer is a personal finance journalist at U.S. News & World Report who has written a highly readable book that introduces readers to the basics of personal finance. The book is best suited for recent graduates who have started their careers. If you have no idea what a 401(k), the basics of investing or living a sustainable lifestyle on a budget, this is the book for you.
- They Don't Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something's Guide to the Business World (Alexandra Levit): Many college students struggle to adapt to the expectations of office life. In this book, Levit walks the reader through office politics, managing your reputation and obtaining employment through networking. Despite the title, this book is useful for students in non-corporate settings as well. Levit also writes a blog and articles on Generation Y work issues. If you just started to work at a Fortune 500 company and feel lost, Levit's book is what you need to read.
- Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want (Jenny Blake): Published in 2011, this title is one of the newest entrants to the college student career advice genre. Blake is a 20 something young professional at Google who took time off from work to write this book and share her knowledge. Unlike some of the other books discussed here, Blake aims to cover money, work issues and the challenge of happiness.
- Good to Go: A Practical Guide to Adulthood (Sharon McKay and Kim Zarzour): If you spent all four years of college living in a dorm room with a meal plan, you probably need to read this book. The practical challenges of finding a place to live, cooking, living with roommates and staying healthy are covered here. This book does have some career advice, but it is best at providing the kind of "household management" advice that many graduates lack.
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National Association of Colleges and Employers, http://www.naceweb.org/home.aspx
Image Credit: Graduates on the field in front of Convocation Hall, University of Toronto, Wikimedia Commons/Benson Kua, Public Domain