Must-Read Career Book for Life After College: @ the Entry Level

As I work on writing my own book with tips and exercises for Life After College (major dream goal from the life checklist), I re-read my list of 10 Books that Changed My Life from earlier this year, and realized I'm missing one - BIG TIME. The book that single-handedly changed my attitude toward work and life at the bottom of the ladder is called @ the Entry Level: On Survival, Success, & Your Calling as a Young Professional, by Michael Ball. Ball flawlessly covers managing the transition from school to work, the feelings we all experience when just starting out, how to suck it up and make it through what seems like meaningless work with a great attitude, finding value and connection to your work, and the importance of work/life balance - among many other great topics.

Some quotes from the book that really stuck with me:

  • "Think of your knocks not as a punishment, but rather as an entitlement. That is, you deserve your bumps and cuts at the entry level because you've earned the right to be vulnerable to them."
  • "Symptoms can include deep-seeded feelings of anger and resentment about being overworked, underpaid, and disvalued, as well as a pervading sense of worthlessness and plummeting self-esteem...but while feelings of hostility and bitterness are perfectly normal byproducts of injured ego, these emotions have to be kept in careful check at the office."
  • "The importance of doing the small stuff well - regrettably, it usually doesn't get noticed when you do, but it most certainly gets seen when you don't."
  • "Create a DIGJAM file - Damn I'm Good Just Ask Me - to keep examples of your best work and praise." (Note: I call these "Keepers" - and have a dedicated folder in my email inbox for thank-you notes and other feel-good, pick-me-up emails)
  • "Building effective, productive relationships is how you open up professional channels and position yourself to garner the feedback, opportunities, and contacts you need to be successful."
  • "If you don't identify, tenaciously fence-off, and then keep careful watch on those parts of your life reserved only for you, your company will steadily graze their way into them, leaving you hewn, barren and desolate. By getting good at your "me time" as a career freshman, you'll be able to more effectively handle the heavier weights and strains levied by future positions."
  • "While you may graduate from school, you absolutely never graduate from learning."

There are so many more pearls of wisdom in the book - I highly encourage you to read it if you're just starting out. Ball also gave a great interview to the Washington Post with Q&A about life after college issues in the workplace.