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Articles / Majors & Careers / 5 Books New Grads Should Read

5 Books New Grads Should Read

Krasi Shapkarova
Written by Krasi Shapkarova | Sept. 18, 2019
5 Books New Grads Should Read


Reading is essential for growth and advancement following graduation. It can inspire you, help you navigate your professional and personal development, and give you a sneak peek at trends in an ever-evolving world of work. Successful people read books and if you want to be a successful professional, you want to read. Not sure where to start? Check out the five books listed below.

The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career -- by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew

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Whether you are still looking for opportunities or have already embarked on a professional endeavor, this book gives insights into a world of work that is increasingly dynamic. What worked in terms of job applications and recruitment no longer does, and Cavoulacos and Minshew, founders of TheMuse.com career website, draw on personal experiences and lessons learned through their platform to create "the definitive guide to the modern workplace." They challenge the old rules and introduce new ones to help you discover what options would work for you, prepare you to land the right fit, and learn how to thrive and advance.

"No major, no degree, no parental connections, no industry, company, or proverbial north star is going to determine or decide where we are going," the authors emphasize. "It's up to us to choose the destination that is right for us and then design the path that will make it happen." Ultimately, Cavoulacos and Minshew want you to secure an opportunity that thrills and fulfills you, understanding that you will have to go through the process several times in your lifetime.

Hit Refresh, The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone -- by Satya Nadella

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Speaking of an evolving world of work that demands continuous learning so as to understand the impact of technology on economic growth and opportunities, we come to the second title on the list. This is not simply a book about a tech giant or about what's coming next, although Nadella does reflect on the three key technologies to shape the future: mixed reality, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. This is a book about technology that impacts everyone and the need this creates to unlearn old habits and acquire new skills essential for participation in a society that's becoming more digital by the minute. Nadella posits that instead of fearing machines replacing humans in the workforce, we need to focus on "how AI can enhance human abilities to move society forward."

"In Nadella's five years as Microsoft's CEO, the company has radically transformed its culture to one that embraces a growth mindset and learning," says Katy Montgomery, associate dean of degree programmes at INSEAD. Nadella imparts wisdom on how to build trust within a company and in the larger community. "He focuses on empathy and discusses ways to empower employees to learn and grow," says Montgomery. She sees Nadella as a leader who is ahead of the curve in thinking beyond shareholder value: he shows that Microsoft focuses on maximizing efficiency without destroying the dignity of people. "I highly recommend this book for any leader who believes in business as a force for good," adds Montgomery.

The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job FASTER -- by Steve Dalton

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Acknowledging that technology impacts not only what options are available, but also how one searches for and lands opportunities, Dalton proposes a step-by-step approach to help you maximize your job search. "One of my favorite aspects of The 2-Hour Job Search is that it provides a process to a task that can seem overwhelming," says Liz Matthews, associate director of employer relations at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Instead of wasting hours browsing job search platforms, sending hundreds of resumes into a black hole, Dalton offers a timed and much more efficient approach.

"You can go to a coffee shop, get comfortable, and spend 40 minutes creating your list of 40 target employers," says Matthews. "Dalton then guides you through figuring out which of those companies have current or former employees in your network (10 minutes), encourages you to pay attention to motivation as you rank order your list (five minutes), and asks you to look at companies that have current open positions to determine who's hiring (15 minutes)." Matthews calls that the sweet spot. Getting there is what Dalton regards as the hardest part of the process; you then use your remaining time on a focused networking approach that yields results.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now -- by Meg Jay, PhD

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While spending time post-graduation exploring different possibilities in terms of both personal and professional development is important, Dr. Jay argues that too many "twentysomethings" don't take that first decade into adulthood seriously because accomplishments, whether personal or professional, now happen later, in one's thirties. Her research and experience confirm that this attitude is problematic. Jay emphasizes the importance of combining exploration with making commitments to help gain capital. You don't want to just work and not explore, but you also don't want to explore without intention.

"The Defining Decade sheds light on the importance of using your twenties to launch for what's next," says Caitlin Magidson, counselor and career coach in private practice. "New grads will find comfort and validation as they read the stories of other twentysomethings and remember they're not alone in navigating this defining decade." Magidson further reflects that the book gives insights and tools to make the most of these years when relationships, jobs, and the brain are changing and developing. That doesn't mean you need your life figured out in your twenties or that you need 100 percent certainty about the direction in which you are going. What's important is that you focus on being intentional about discovering who you are and what you want.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! -- by Dr. Seuss

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"This book communicates a message that summarizes the journey new graduates can expect as they transition from a full-time student to a full-time professional and beyond," says Christy Murray, assistant dean of career development at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. "It provides a light-hearted and truthful narrative around the reality of developing oneself personally and professionally."

Murray recommends the book as it serves as a reminder of the many variables a young adult may need to juggle in order to have a fulfilling career and life. In fact, she regards the story as valuable advice for new graduates and seasoned people alike. To her, the ultimate message of Dr. Seuss' work is that we are all a work in progress. "We are constantly learning from our successes and mistakes," says Murray. "The capacity to be open to change and feedback, to have willingness to grow from experience, and to accept that the path is often a winding journey full of twists and turns can serve as a good reminder to new graduates that they don't have to have it all figured out when they graduate!"


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,

you're off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So ... get on your way!

Written by

Krasi Shapkarova

Krasi Shapkarova

A longtime careers writer and coach, Krasi Shapkarova serves as an associate director of coaching and education at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Washington, DC, and is also the editor-in-chief of Carey the Torch, the official blog of the Career Development office. She is a Certified Career Management Coach with The Academies, an MBTI Step I and Step II certified practitioner, and has completed training in the Career Leader assessment. Prior to joining the Carey Business School staff, Krasi worked as a counselor at the distance education department at Houston Community College. In that role, she assisted students with career exploration, degree planning, course selection and study skills. In addition, Krasi has extensive experience as a writing tutor assisting students with resumes, cover letters and scholarship essays. She also interned at Shriners Hospitals for Children and has a background in the non-profit sector. Krasi holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Master of Arts in International Human Rights from the University of Denver. When not in the office, Krasi enjoys hiking and camping.

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