Lakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Blogs from Lakeisha Matthews.
A few months ago I wrote about 10 must-read books for career professionals. Now I would like to draw attention to a few must-read books for any student who aspires to be successful, a leader, or simply to be ready for the world of work.
With information always at their fingertips, students can access tips, samples, and information on career and professional development in a split second on Google, YouTube, Pinterest, and so forth. However, many professionals can attest to the book that changed our lives, or the author that helped us mature and think differently about ourselves. Our students should be encouraged to have the same encounters with books that help them grow and mature professionally. Whether it’s a hard back, soft cover, or e-book, books are beneficial to help students grow professionally and we should be recommending them.
Lifehack.org, a website dedicated to providing tips for productivity, features an article entitled “10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day.” The author asserts that reading increases knowledge, improves your ability to articulate, strengthens analytical thinking skills, and has a positive effect on writing skills. Another website, Persistence Unlimited, offers 26 benefits to reading in an article, “The 26 Major Advantages to Reading More Books.” And, “Why 3 in 4 People Are Being Shut Out of Success” explores improving creativity, making more money, improving reasoning skills, and building expertise as benefits of reading. What do you know? Surprisingly, many of the benefits of reading are a direct match to the skills and qualities employers want from candidates. As noted, in the 2015 Job Outlook, employers seek candidates who are strong in communication, analysis, problem-solving, and creativity skills.
It’s safe to say that reading books can have a positive impact on students’ professional and career development. For that reason, I recommend providing students with suggested reading materials as a “career task” to address skill gaps, expand industry expertise, and help make informed career decisions. At the University of Baltimore, we have begun recommending books to help students write resumes and cover letters, learn about the federal hiring process, effectively use social media, build a professional brand, and increase understanding of career planning in general. And, to our surprise, students have embraced our recommendations.
Below are a few books, in no particular order, which had an enormous impact on my professional development as a college student and entry-level professional.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace by Daniel Goleman
- My Reality Check Bounced by Jason Dorsey
- Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson
- Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
Of course books are not the sole format to recommend to students. Periodicals (in print and online) such as newspapers, professional journals, and business magazines are other sources for rich reading material that will help students grow professionally.
Dr. Seuss wrote in I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
If you had to identify five books that had a positive impact on your professional development or success what would be on your list?