Friday, June 8, 2012

Life After College Doesn’t Have to Suck: A Book Review

I am the wrong person to write this review.  For starters, this book is written for college graduates (the soon-to-be, the just-last-week, and the-few-years-ago.)  Considering I recently felt morally obligated to stop using my student ID at Harris Teeter about 2 years ago, I think I am (sadly) out of the context of college graduate.

Secondly, I picked up Life After College Doesn’t Have the Suck mainly because I know the author and I was impressed one of my peers had done something I've always wanted to do (written and PUBLISHED a book), and wanted to see what it was all about.  This, of course, makes me moderately biased which I think is fair to state up front.  Nonetheless, my friend Jess asked me the other day if I wouldn’t get on Goodreads (because I fear getting sucked into another social media outlet), if I would at least blog from time to time when I read something I liked.  So here we are.

I downloaded it on a slow Saturday evening (see: definitely not a recent college graduate) and dove in, figuring I’d read a few chapters to get the gist of it.

I didn't go to bed until I had finished it that night.  I was sucked in immediately, drawn in by the outrageous chapter titles and the fast-clipped, in your face writing style.  I may not be the target audience for this book, but I was highlighting lines, nodding my head and literally stopped twice to text the author to tell him I was laughing out loud at certain points. 

Let's get down to it.  I want you to buy the book (and John Murdock, the author, does too) so I'll be sparse in my details about content.  The basic premise is that while it used to be a pretty safe bet that a 4-year degree was the all-express pass to The Perfect Job post college, the times they are a changing.  And yet… no one really seems to be passing that memo along to college students (and recent grads) until they get out in the "real world."  And when they get there, they are flailing and have no idea what to do.

I think this topic is incredibly relevant.  We're hearing more and more about the burgeoning student debt problem as it's taking college grads longer and longer to find employment, along with the rest of the country.  We’re still churning high school students out on to the conveyer belt to the 4 year liberal arts school with little to no warning that the next stop of the fulfilling, quickly obtained, lucrative career is becoming more and more elusive.

I love that this book is addressing this issue, but more importantly, I love the way Murdock addresses the issue.  He's pretty blunt.  I have to admit, I was taken aback at first.  I'm a long time reader of personal development blogs like White Hot Truth and The Happiness Project, and I'm much more accustomed to ingesting information in quirky, happy sound bites.  My initial gut reaction was to be put off by the shock-value tone. But there is enough humor after the initial blows to balm the wounds and keep the reader going. The more I got into the book, I realized that the HEY YOU! WAKE UP! tone is exactly what’s needed. It's a fine art to know when to wield tough love and I think he gets it right here.

I was also initially struck by the brevity of the book. The chapters are short, the points are made quickly and then it’s on to the next thing. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this delivery was actually perfected suited to the intended readership too. John's writing to the audience that is 100% accustomed to getting information in feeds, tweets and texts. Information is ingested quickly before moving on to the next salient point. If his goal was to capture the attention of the recent college grad, shake them by the shoulders, scare them a little bit, then reassure them it was going to be okay – if they were willing to make the effort to make it that way - he hit the nail on the head.

The book is timely and arrives on the cusp of a conversation about the unique problems the next generation of worker bees is facing. They're at the intersection of Steve Job's admonishment to "keep looking" and the economy's advice to "take whatever you can get."

My sense was the book is meant to be a catalyst. It's not a how to guide to find the perfect job after college, but he succinctly addresses the common pitfalls college grads are falling in to and outlines some basic ways to change course. It’s a must-read for any soon-to-be or recent college grads, but it’s also an interesting read for anyone who is participating in the conversation of what’s next for Gen Y in the workforce. If the reader finishes the book and feels like there IS a 3rd option between a soul-sucking corporate existence that pays the bills and bunking in Mom & Dad's basement until inheritance kicks in, then John has succeeded.


You can pick up the e-book here, read more on John’s blog here or follow The Young Professional on Twitter

And the necessary disclaimer: I was not paid to read or review the book.  All opinions are mine and all moola spent was mine.


Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Is this a book that will get the 23 year old, college grad working minimum wage job, out of my den and living on his own? If so, I'll buy it!

SaundraM300 said...

Just found your blog and love it. I grew up in Winston Salem many years ago. STill have family there (on Main St).

A Glenn said...

So maybe I will buy this as a present for all graduates that I know in the near future!

Keep the reviews coming, I love knowing how people feel about books, good or bad.