Book Reviews

Book by Katherine Brooks, Ed.D 
Reviewer: Michelle Barbour 
Career Counselor
Marshall University 


How do students start their career development path? What steps need to be taken and when should these steps occur?  In You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career, author Katherine Brooks provides engaging material that helps the audience answer these questions and chart their professional development trajectory.  Brooks addresses the many complicated processes involved in beginning and developing a career including choosing and enhancing an academic major, establishing professional networks, writing resumes, and interviewing for particular positions. 

The book engages the reader with anecdotes, thought provoking questions, and stories that help the reader create a mental picture of the processes that surround career development. Brooks takes the concepts she wants to expand and combines them with activities to help make the information personal and applicable to individual situations. Brooks provides information and examples for multiple audiences including but not limited to: academic advisors, career counselors, higher educational professionals, students, and graduates. 

The “Possible Lives Map” (p. 118) is one example of a valuable exercise where individuals put their dreams and experiences on paper to assist in developing a career path. One of the goals of this exercise is to illustrate to students that dreams are possible and life is not a linear path.  This is one example of a fun and hands on activity that can be shared in a variety of audiences.

Each chapter begins with an engaging question or story to grab the reader and develops on that question or story throughout the chapter. One of my favorite opening questions is “Did you know that your love of learning could make you a valuable employee?” (p.83). This question reminded me that learning does not end in class, college or the start of employment, it is a continuous and developmental process. The book also has a strong conclusion for each chapter with an excellent summary and introduces upcoming chapters to keep the reader engaged.  Brooks also does a great job of connecting information in past chapters with information in present and upcoming chapters. 

The strongest part of the book is how the author uses a variety of examples and supplemental material to highlight points. One example is where brooks takes the idea of storytelling to ace an interview and provides the reader with an outline of the idea they want to convey and how this can highlight interview answers and relate to the job for which they are applying (p. 265).  The chapters and information flow from beginning to end and have excellent transitions.  Brooks begins this journey with chapters to assist students in academic degree selection and career choices and ends with “Wandering through the Workplace” and “Wandering after Graduation.” The book provides information to guide students through career development path during college and after.  

I highly recommend this book for academic advisors, career counselors, higher educational professionals, students, and graduates.  The book provides tangible exercises and information combined with theoretical career and professional development knowledge. It is versatile and has the ability to work with large audiences, groups and classroom settings and is excellent resource when working one-one-one with students in advising or counseling sessions or as a personal career development guide for students. I would consider this book to be a must have on higher educational professionals’ and students bookshelves.   


You Majored in What? Mapping your Path from Chaos to Career. (2010). Books by Katharine Brooks. Reviewer: Michelle Barbour. New York: Penguin. 320 pp., $16.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-0-4522-9600-8
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