Book Reviews

Book by: Fred J. Hecklinger & Bernadette M. Black
Review by: Jenine Buchanan          
University of Delaware


In our work, we often discuss goal-setting, prioritizing, reflection, and planning with our students. We encourage them to be self-aware, to explore, and to make informed decisions after weighing their risks. We draw parallels to our own experiences, or refer students to colleagues, students, and alumni for advice. We might refer them to online resources, career counselors, or paper-based assessments. At times, we may recommend multiple resources for a student to begin exploring the world of work, narrowing their interests, creating resumes, preparing for interviews, and navigating a new position once obtained.

This book eliminates the need for students and advisors to compile information from multiple outlets. Training for Life: A Practical Guide to Career & Life Planning is a comprehensive manual for career development. The authors, Fred J. Hecklinger and Bernadette M. Black, cover all stages from career exploration to maintaining career development once a position is obtained. Those who might benefit from the book include those exploring interests, those who are job searching, those considering a career change, or those simply looking to reflect on their values, interests, and goals.

Each of the thirty-six chapters begins with information on a specific topic, with references to scholarly work where appropriate. Presented more like a workbook than a textbook, each topic is accompanied by exercises, tips, assessments, and activities for reflecting and planning. The exercises sometimes seem simplistic, but it is clear that the authors have set out to assist all readers, even those at the very beginning. Users could refer to the book over time, approaching each topic as they move through stages of career exploration or development.

Training for Life: A Practical Guide to Career & Life Planning is very versatile and has many potential applications for academic advisors. The book could be effective in working with undergraduates who are beginning to explore the world of work. Advisors may elect to use small portions of the book in work with pre-college students, students in a first-year seminar course, or working with students who are undecided about their career or major choice. Individual exercises could be useful in regular appointments with our students. Additionally, career advisors may find that this book would be a good textbook for a career seminar for upperclassmen.

For personal and professional development, this book would be good for advisors at any stage of their careers. Even advisors who are not looking to change positions may find portions of the book helpful for prioritizing, organizing their time, or reflecting on their positions leading up to an annual review. Supervisors could use self-assessments or goal-setting activities in this book for staff development or retreats.

The book may also be helpful to graduate students who are preparing to identify their functional area within student affairs or even a specialized population within academic advising.

In approaching career development and exploration, Hecklinger and Black focus on the individual. They present informative and thought-provoking ideas in an easy-to-read format. Readers are able to learn about key factors in career exploration, then immediately assess, reflect, or plan. Students and advisors will find this a useful tool for navigating the process. 


Training for Life: A Practical Guide to Career & Life Planning. (2013). Book by Fred J. Hecklinger & Bernadette M. Black. Review by Jenine Buchanan. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt. 350 pp. $68.78. ISBN #978-0-7575-6048-4.




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