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Book review: Career Rules— How To Choose Right And Get The Life You Want

LiveMint logoLiveMint 09-07-2017 Pooja Singh

What is it like to be a cybersecurity expert, a data scientist, a casting director, a medical entrepreneur or an auditor? Career Rules—How To Choose Right And Get The Life You Want answers these questions, as well as what it takes to chart a successful, fulfilling career path in an increasingly competitive world. 

The book, by Sonya Dutta Choudhury, compiles profiles of professionals, from 18-year-old interns to 60-year-old chief executive officers, which were first published in Mint’s Get A Glimpse series. These professionals tell Choudhury, who writes for Mint, what made them choose the profession they did, what kind of skills are required to succeed in their profession, and what the best and worst parts of their profession are. 

For instance, Yaquta Mandviwala, partner at consulting firm Bain and Co., says the constant travel can be challenging, but the good part is “the opportunity to be able to create impact fairly quickly through changes one suggests, since you work with people at the CXO (top-executive) level. Also, being able to do lots of different things—in different industries and different geographies. You also get to work with a bunch of really smart and ambitious people.”

Then there’s Amish Tripathi. The banker-turned-author talks about his career shift, and the new normal these days. The Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, alumnus says: “You must use your heart to decide the destination but use your mind to plot the journey. I found people who have not thought through the change that they want to make; they just want to kick their boss, kick their job and jump right into something quickly and then they fail at it, and that becomes a source of dissonance and sadness in their life. At the same time, someone can refuse to listen to their heart and just keep compromising, and at the age of 50 or 60, when their career is over, they are unhappy with the way their life has turned out. So you need a balance of both.”

Towards the end of the book, Choudhury offers a list of career hacks. Sample this: “Your résumé is the most important document in your job search. Put the colourful (interesting) pieces of your life together to create an interesting story—your education, work experience and the people who may have inspired you along the way. Nothing sells better than a story. If there is a chance that the interviewer will remember you, it is because of your story. Not your name, not your face, not even your grade point.”

Interning at different organizations is also good when one is just starting out, says Choudhury. “Internships give you a network that’s completely different from your existing college network. It looks good on the résumé and gives you independence, experience and some pocket money as well,” she writes. To land a good internship, Choudhury suggests that one should begin the search early (“check websites”), choose the sector (“decide what it is, banking, consulting, marketing or programming, that you would like to do and why”) and prepare for the internship interview (“figure out what kind of people and role companies are looking for”).

A good mentor is a must. “They give good advice, access to different networks and exposure to different roles,” says Choudhury. But how do you find a mentor? Reach out to your college alumni, explore online mentoring platforms, network in person if you can. 

Finally, the author provides a list of eight books that she says are packed with life lessons: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Open by Andre Agassi, Brief Candle In The Dark: My Life In Science by Richard Dawkins, Russian fiction (from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy to One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, The Godfather by Mario Puzo, and the Mahabharata (a true study of “human nature, character and motivation”). 

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