Review by Gregg A. Henderschiedt
Career Resource Center
University of Florida
Colleges and universities spend a lot of time preparing students for the “real world,” and much attention is given to prerequisites, general education courses and major requirements. Often lacking in college curricula are the basics of workplace etiquette and career planning. Backpack to Briefcase is a good start in filling that void.
This no-nonsense primer for new professionals is broken down into themes such as professional dress, networking, and understanding employee benefits. Its straightforward, short chapters could easily be read on a new employee’s lunch break or commute to work, and its paperback format and reasonable price easily fits a young professional’s budget.
The authors cover an impressive range of topics, but some of the themes are only discussed superficially, leaving the reader with little practical knowledge on more applied subjects. For example, the short segments on business letter writing and common grammar mistakes do not address the subjects with enough depth to substantially improve writing, and a reader would get more benefit from a business writing manual. Many of the tips are also outlined in lengthy bullet-pointed lists, which can make for tedious reading at times. The authors could have punctuated the list format with case studies to illustrate how the principles are applied on the job.
Despite its orientation toward new employees, the book covers several topics which could benefit even more seasoned professionals. The chapters on staying competitive and networking both outline a convincing case for staying current with industry trends and taking advantage of connections made through professional involvement.
Backpack to Briefcase is a straightforward, readable introduction to the world of work which could be useful for college seniors, new professionals, or more established colleagues. Whether the book is used in a career planning class on campus, as a graduation gift, or at a professional development seminar text, the authors have laid out a solid path for career success.
Backpack to Briefcase (2006), Review by Gregg A. Henderschiedt. Bainbridge Island, WA. Life After Graduation, LLC. 144 pp, $15.95. ISBN # 097009447-7