Thursday, March 31, 2011

Summer work option during post-secondary education

One of the software development teams I'm a part of was having a 'lunch celebration' the other day to commemorate another successful release (and a happy business client).  Over pizza I discovered that one of our client business managers is an officer in the Navy reserves.  I was intrigued to discover that he had joined the reserves to keep busy and make money over the summer break after his first year of university.

He did this for each of the subsequent summer breaks while he was in university.  It gave him a source of financial income, a different learning experience, and added some discipline and rigor to his life.  He certainly didn't have to worry about finding a summer job.  Having stayed in the reserves after finishing university and getting a full time job he has moved up the ranks and is now a commanding officer for the local unit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Congratulations! Now What?

Congratulations! Now What? A Book for Graduates
Congratulations! Now What? A Book for Graduates by Bill Cosby is a relatively quick read based on college commencement speeches that that the author has given.  While this is a small book, I found it a bit of a difficult read - I think this was because most of the humor was written for a speech and it doesn't come across the same way in the book.  Or maybe it was just me.  If you are looking for some serious content and advice about what to do with your future, this is probably not the book for you.  It is full of stories and humor though, so it might make a good grad gift.  That's not what I bought it for though.  My hardcover is 130 pages.
2.5 out of 5

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Get Smarter

Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons
Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons by Seymour Schulich is primarily a mentoring book for young adults with entrepreneurial aspirations.  Essentially each chapter is a lesson that Seymour has learned over the course of becoming a billionaire.  The majority of the lessons are very practical and backed up with entertaining, personal stories and advice. The Decision Maker, Patience, and Career Lines are chapters I've definitely recommend. This book was a medium read for me at almost 300 pages. 4 out of 5

Fish! by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen C Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen is another one of those 'modern parable' books (like Who Moved My Cheese?).  This one focuses on attitude and the Seattle Fish Market.  Fish is a fast read that is just over 100 pages long.  There are a lot of good lessons in this book that the reader will find themselves assimilating almost through osmosis.  I enjoyed this book and recommend it to young adults because attitude can make all the difference.  4 out of 5

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The New Global Student by Maya Frost

The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education
The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost is a well written, well researched book.  It offers a different perspective on getting an education for high school seniors and beyond.  Maya Frost writes from her family's experience, but she also includes anecdotes and advice from others that is insightful and would greatly benefit young adults.  I think her perspective and advice on the role of community colleges in post secondary education is invaluable.  My paperback from the library was published in 2009 and around 300 pages.  It was a medium read. 4 out of 5

Monday, March 21, 2011

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway
Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers is a great book I discovered by reading The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. This hidden gem is for people who struggle with making decisions and even fear in general.  Susan offers practical steps to overcome your fear, along with encouraging, personal stories and advice that I found simple yet profound. Her chapter on 'How to Make a No-Lose Decision' is gold! I'm glad I own a copy and I intent on reading it again.  At just under 200 pages, my paperback was a medium read and well worth what I paid for it new.  4.5 out of 5.

Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson is essentially a parable about four characters and change.  This well written book is a very quick read and will give you some good food for thought on how you can mitigate the affect change has on your life.  Spencer includes tips on how to anticipate change, adapt better to it, and even enjoy it. At less than 100 pages in large type, many people could read this entire book in a sitting.  Given the valuable content and presentation, for me it's a 4 out of 5.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Hydro-geologist on the Bus

I take public transit to work here in Calgary.  I have found some good value in getting some reading, thinking, or vegging done while someone else worries about the traffic and road conditions.  An older gentleman sat beside me on the way home from work last week and we got into a discussion about the book I was reading.  After talking for a while, I asking him what he did for work, and he said he was a hydro-geologist in the oil industry.  I asked him if that had provided him with any opportunity to travel. He consented that it definitely did, and proceeded to launch into a description of how he became a hydro-geologist.

Way back in the early 1970's, he was going to the University of Alberta and managed to get a job with the Alberta Research Council. This job lasted two years and involved surveying the water tables of hundreds of small towns in India (around Hyderabad).  He related that this was a fantastic experience for him.  His work allowed him to get into towns that were off the beaten tourist track and see how the people really lived and functioned.  "Bureaucracy in India is something to behold and experience," he exclaimed.

Finishing that work in India, my friend realized that he had landed upon an answer for what he was going to do with his life.  He returned to university and got a degree in hydro-geology.  Since then he has traveled to several other places.  He was telling me of drilling for water in Vietnam and having to leave the wells, the  equipment, and the country behind because the communists were coming.  He never got to finish those wells, but he returned decades later to discover that the communists had finished the wells and were using them for their intended purpose.

"Is the future was bright for hydro-geologists?" I queried.  He replied that things were going to look very positive for hydro-geologists soon as the world is going to realize how precious water is as a resource.  His outlook was that the 'future is very bright'.  He was disappointed that he would be retiring soon.

Don't miss the 'Career Resources for Graduates and Young Adults' here on the site!  It's got lots of good links to various resources you might find interesting.

The Element by Ken Robinson

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson is a fantastic book about helping you find 'your niche' in the world.  A New York Times Bestseller (I like read best sellers as they are usually good indicators of a good book), it's well organized and thought out, and full of colorful and applicable anecdotes that help get Ken's points across. He covers various topics related to finding your passion, including how the modern idea of education works (and doesn't work), mentors, creativity, being 'in the zone', and much more.  My personal Penguin edition is almost 260 pages and a solid medium read, but well worth it. 4.5 out of 5.

Our River Rafting Guide - Following His Passion Around the Globe

Our family went river rafting on the Kicking Horse River in British Columbia last summer with Wet'nWild Adventures.  The picture on the left was taken at lunch before we got into some good whitewater.  The scenery was fantastic - check out that rock strata on the far bank of the river. Oh, and the white water was good too :-)

We had a fantastic guide who was very experienced and knowledgeable.  I don't recall his name right now (Kyle?).  My wife thought he looked like Harrison Ford.  Anyway, during the more relaxed sections of the river there was time for discussion.  During one of these 'lulls' Kyle asked if anyone had been rafting anywhere before.  Several people had rafted previously in different parts of North America (a river in the Grand Canyon, another in California, and one or two in BC).  Kyle was very interested as he had rafted one of those rivers in the past.  As the discussion progressed, it turned out that Kyle had made a career out of being a river rafting guide.  He was so passionate about it that when the season was over in North America, he would travel somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Africa) and work for river rafting tours in those countries!  Apparently he has been doing this for quite a number of years now.

What an interesting career option for other young adults to emulate!  Don't let the seasons or the weather constrain your career.  Follow your passion to the side of the world where it's in season.  Skiing, mountain biking, rafting, golfing, treeplanting (ha, just kidding), etc.

Another example of this I got just today was to observe the number of young people from Australia and New Zealand work at the ski slopes here in Alberta and BC.  Likely they can't ski in Australia in the middle of March (end of their summer).   What an opportunity to come to Canada, work on the slopes, and experience another country all at the same time!

Don't miss our 'Career Resources for Graduates and Young Adults' page.  It has some helpful links to videos, sites, and articles related to careers and career direction for grads.  Our 'Travel Resources' page is also full of links to sites for young people interested in doing some travel abroad.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content.
The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Timothy Ferriss is a very interesting tome with some great food for thought.  Timothy does a great job of balancing practical advice with stories, personal anecdotes, and resources.  There are also some creative ideas for boot-strapping small businesses inside.  I will definitely re-read this book in the near future and use it as a reference for my own business ventures.  The practical advice Tim gives for utilizing Adwords to see if your business will be successful is almost invaluable. If it wasn't for the occasional expletive, this book would be at the top of my list of recommendations. Its around 370 pages and and medium read. 4.5 out of 5

Update July 2014 - I'm reconsidering my review of this book.  While it is well written and offers interesting insights into 'alternative' options for a career, the more I've considered Mr. Ferriss' premise in this book, the less I think it's good advice for young adults to follow.  The 4-hour work week may work for some people, but I don't think it would work for the majority of the population.  It does offer some creative insights into passive income generation, but I don't think it's practical advice for the majority of young adults out there.  Certainly not when I compare it to books like Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott!

The Career Chronicles by Michael Gregory

The Career Chronicles: An Insider's Guide to What Jobs Are Really Like - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Over 750 Professionals
The Career Chronicles: An Insider's Guide to What Jobs Are Really Like - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Over 750 Professionals by Michael Gregory is a comprehensive reference book about 24 different types of careers.  There is a lot of subjective feedback (so read them keeping that in mind) about specific careers from individuals current engaged in them.  Michael also has objective sections for each career that give valuable and relatively current (as of 2008) information about them.  The book is just over 260 pages and a solid medium read.  I borrowed my copy from the library. 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Gap-Year Advantage

The Gap-Year Advantage: Helping Your Child Benefit from Time Off Before or During College
The Gap-Year Advantage: Helping Your Child Benefit from Time Off Before or During College by Karl Haigler and Rae Neslon is a great book, full of resources, stories, and encouragement about gap-year experiences.  If you are considering doing a gap-year, I would strongly suggest either signing this book out of the public library, or purchasing a copy.  It is well written, with good insights based on experience.  And it has a lot of good suggestions for resources to tap in your quest for finding the right place to 'land' for you gap-year. This book has 240 pages and it's a medium read and will likely be a good reference if you plan on taking a gap-year.  4.5 out of 5

The C Student's Guide to Success

The C Student's Guide to Success: How to Become a High Achiever Without the Best Grades, Connections, or Pedigree
The C Student's Guide to Success: How to Become a High Achiever Without the Best Grades, Connections, or Pedigree by Ron Bliwas is an encouraging book for people who didn't fit into the public education mold.  It chronicles Ron's success story, along with others, providing creative, insightful, practical advice for new graduates.  I thought his chapters on Taking Responsibility Seriously and Mastering the Art of Purposeful Learning were particularly applicable to his audience. I enjoyed this book. It's a medium read with a little over 230 pages.  4 out of 5

Don't Sweat Guide for Graduates

The Don't Sweat Guide For Graduates: Facing New Challenges with Confidence (Don't Sweat Guides)
The Don't Sweat Guide For Graduates: Facing New Challenges with Confidence (Don't Sweat Guides) by Richard Carlson is part of the 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' series.  This small book has 100 suggestions for (college) graduates to consider after they have finished school.  Each chapter is self contained, so you can easily skip around and read what you feel like, when you feel like it. Richard's advice is practical and well rounded, but I didn't find it very engaging.  This book makes a great gift, but I don't know if it would be read more than once.  I'm giving it a 2.5 out of 5.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Wealthy Barber

The Wealthy Barber, Updated 3rd Edition: Everyone's Commonsense Guide to Becoming Financially Independent by David Chilton is a great read. David uses an engaging story format sprinkled with humor to get some essential points across about personal finances.  In my opinion this is a must read for young adults.  The concepts are introduced in a conversational format which makes understanding them practically effortless.  This is a medium read at 190 pages, but well worth the purchase price.  It's a 5 out of 5 for me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Color is Your Parachute?

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2011: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles is a classic that is reprinted every year so it's kept current.  This book is full of practical advice, exercises, and resources to help anyone in their career search.  While I don't buy into doing exercises to map your personality type so much, others may find it valuable.  Certainly there are other parts of the book that are extremely valuable - interview tips, resume tips, job hunting tips, and more.

At over  350 pages, this book is a long read but one you'll likely go back to as a reference.  I plan on purchasing a copy myself.  I got it from my local library for my first read through. I'd rate this book at 4.5 out of 5.

What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens, 2nd Edition: Discovering Yourself, Defining Your Future by Carol Christen and Richard N. Bolles is similar to What Color Is Your Parachute? 2011: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers but targeted to youth and young adults.  I found this book to be even more full of exercises and have less content related to what I thought this age group would find interesting.  It is definitely a shorter read than it's parent book at 192 pages.  If you like doing exercises to find out who you are and what you are made for, then maybe this is the book for you.  Otherwise, I'd suggest looking at What Color Is Your Parachute? 2011: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers.  Since I don't like exercises as much as the next person (and I get to be a little subjective because this is my blog) I'm going to give this book a 3 out of 5.

What's Next

What's Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job by Kerry Hannon targets readers that are looking to do a mid-life (40 to 50 yrs old) career change.  This should not deter a young adult from picking this book up.  Every chapter is someone's story of how they changed from one career into another - sixteen stories in total.   Most chapters are followed up with a valuable overview of lessons learned and sometimes a list of resources.

I enjoyed this book.  Kerry covers a broad spectrum of careers and people, and every reading should be able to relate to one or two stories.  I found this book to be a medium read (larger format @ a little over 200 pages). I'd recommend it even if you are just starting your career search.  I'm going to give it a 4 out of 5

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dream Jobs

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dream Jobs by Brian O'Connell was published in 2005 and has some thought provoking ideas about possible careers.  Brian organizes the book into categories of jobs:
- An introduction
- Glamour Jobs - Floodlights, Fame and Fortune
- Physical Jobs - Jobs related to the Outdoors, Animals, and Sports
- The American Dream - Being your own Boss - Entrepreneurs and Home based jobs
- Mind, Body, and Soul jobs
- Finding coolness in work - Brian wraps it up with some observations about job trends, offbeat careers, and more.

There are literally hundreds of jobs covered in this book.  The author gives a good overview of each with pertinent information like salary expectations, perks, and resources.  Some of the jobs aren't particularly applicable to what most people would be interested in (elephant trainer?)  while others people will certainly find a good read (traffic reporter).

You might be able to buy this book used online - I'm not sure that there are new copies available for purchase anymore.  Check you local library if you are interested (that's where I got the copy I read).  This book is just over 300 pages long and I'd say its a medium read and I'd rate it at 3.5 out of 5.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned by Michael J. Fox is about the 'twists and turns and lessons learned' that Michael had after he dropped out of high school to pursue an acting career.  This almost reads in parts like a memoir, and I didn't find this quite as engaging as The Last Lecture.  However there were several gems that I enjoyed - The professor and the pickle jar, Michael's father's advice for lumberjacks, and the chapter on Economics.  There was some profanity used in the book.  It has 100 pages and it's a quick read.  I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5.