Life Lessons of All Sizes in Ben Carpenter’s The Bigs

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Serious question time: What do you want to do after you graduate? Do you see yourself working in finance? Start-ups? Owning a bar? As a CEO? Are you currently looking for a job, internship, or thinking about making a career change? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ll find something of use in Ben Carpenter’s new book, The Bigs (Wiley, 2014).

The Bigs began as an email Carpenter was writing to his daughter who had just graduated from college and was about to start her first job, and morphed into a massive undertaking that outlines his entire career to date and offers advice for those crucial early stages of your career.

The book is divided into two clear halves. Part One, “How to Survive, Thrive, and Have Fun in the Big Leagues,” gives you the lowdown on Carpenter’s career until now. He organizes his life into a series of anecdotes like “The Rat Bite” and “If You’re Lucky Enough to Get Rich Once” to share general lessons about how to approach your career and professional relationships.

Part Two, “How to Choose, Get, and Do a Great Job” offers a much more strategic approach to your job search and career development, with advice you can put into practice right away.

I enjoyed reading about Carpenter’s adventures growing up and during his early years on Wall Street in Part One, but for a recent grad or current student, I think it actually makes more sense to start in Part Two. This is where you’ll get a detailed plan of how to go about your job search (hint: it involves A LOT of networking), including actual scripts you can use in your emails and conversations, and a breakdown of what you should be doing at each stage of your academic career.

We recently learned that a lot of students (83% to be exact) aren’t finding jobs before graduation, even though the majority of them said that they were already looking. One reason is that a lot of students are simply applying for jobs online and hoping for the best (students rated job boards and company websites as their top two job search methods).

If that’s been your tactic until now, you’ll definitely want to read Carpenter’s step-by-step guide to expanding your network, learning more about your industry and potential employers with informational interviews, and impressing your interviewer with your diligence and enthusiasm once you actually get invited to an interview.

Whether you read it cover to cover or just dive in to the sections that are most relevant to you, The Bigs will help put you on the path to answering all those big questions (and some of the small ones, too) about life after graduation.

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Giveaway! Win a copy of The Bigs by leaving a comment below answering the following question: Which area of the job search do you feel like you need the most help in?

Contest will run from May 19 to June 2. We’ll choose one winner based on quality of response.

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