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Where to After College? A Review of “How’d You Score THAT Gig?” by Alexandra Levit

Where to After College? A Review of “How’d You Score THAT Gig?” by Alexandra Levit

Where to After College?

    One of the few things scarier than going to college is graduating from college. Once you toss that mortarboard in the air, “real life” sets in: it’s time to get a job. Or better yet, to start a career.

    Therein lies the rub. For most college students, not only has there been little instruction  about how to start building a career, there’s also been little guidance about how to choose a career. Universities offer little in the way of self-examination with an eye towards what a student might want to do for the rest of his or her life — let alone whether he or she might actually be well-suited to it.

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    Score That Gig - Levit - cover

      That’s a shame, because it creates a kind of discontinuity between college and career that most students never bridge — leading to a rather detached attitude towards both. Into that gap steps career expert Alexandra Levit, author of How’d You Score That Gig: A Guide to the Coolest Jobs [And How To Get Them]. Levit has worked for years as a career consultant as the founder and president of Inspiration@Work, and Score That Gig brings that experience to bear on the question of how to find a career that best matches both your aptitudes and your personality.

      Levit works from the core idea that different jobs are best suited to different personality types. She outlines 7 broad character types in the book: Adventurers, Creators, Data Heads, Entrepreneurs, Investigators, Networkers, and Nurturers. What suits the detail-oriented Data Head, for example, might bore to death the fast-and-loose-playing Adventurer, while the Nurturer’s concern for others might not suit him or her to jobs that stress self-expression over attention to other people’s needs.

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      The book opens with a simple 20-question self-assessment quiz; at the end, categories that receive the most answer “points” are likely to be the ones you’d feel most comfortable in. Many people will fall into two or more categories; others, like myself, will strongly and clearly favor just one. Each personality type has its own chapter, with around 8 or so suggested careers, each featuring interviews with people who already have “that gig” — as well as a description of the background needed, resources both on and off the Web for finding more information and getting started, and information on how to start building a career in that area.

      Classify Me: What Gig Should Dustin Get?

      This is a book that’s meant to be used more than read, so use it I did. After taking the assessment exam, I discovered I am “The Investigator”.

      Investigators place a high value on learning (ok, I’m a college professor. Check!) and excel at research (yeah, I had to do a lot of research in grad school and was top of my Master’s class. Check!). According to Levit, Investigators are “happiest when they’re using their significant brain power [her words, not mine – but really, I am super-smart…] to pursue what they deem to be a worth endeavor” and therefore prefer work that makes a difference in other’s lives — which seem borne out by my choice of a career in education rather than, you know, something that pays.

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      Investigators aren’t fans of overly structured environments (I used to have panic attacks every Sunday night at the prospect of returning to work the next morning when I had a 9-5 job) and like to do things their own way. Finally, Levit says, Investigators are vigilant about keeping up with the latest developments in their fields — a demand well-suited to both my academic career and my other career as a Web worker.

      Of course, these kind of personality tests can be like horoscope signs — written broadly enough, everyone sees themselves in them. But in this case, Levit seems to be pretty close to the mark, at least so far as sussing out my personality is concerned. For further confirmation, let’s look at the kinds of careers she recommends for Investigators like me:

      • Antiques Dealer
      • Art Curator
      • Classic Car Restorer
      • Criminologist
      • Field Archaeologist
      • Forensic Scientist
      • Futurist
      • Historian
      • Psychology Lab Assistant

      Levit isn’t trying to be exhaustive here — instead, she’s presenting readers with a set of examples of cool jobs they might be comfortable doing. That said, it’s striking how closely this list matches up to my own work and academic history.
      True, I don’t have much interest in classic cars or antiques. But everything else here is pretty close. I’m a trained anthropologist, which in the US encompasses human biology (which is why a lot of criminologists and forensic specialists study anthropology — and a lot of anthropologists become forensic scientists), archaeology, human culture and history, and linguistics. My particular specialty is history of anthropology, particularly the career of an anthropologist who, among other things, organized a huge futurist conference in the mid-70s.

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      OK, how weird is all that?

      In short, if I had read How’d You Score That Gig? as a college student, the recommendation would have been pretty much spot-on — Levit would have told me to do basically what I’m doing today. This bodes pretty well for college-age readers looking for some kind of direction in their lives — and for other adults who might have lost their direction for one reason or another.

      Final verdict: This is a quite helpful guide to careers for the undecided or faltering. Keep in mind that unless you’re intensely curious, or maybe you’re a nurturer who wants to share Levit’s insight with everyone, you probably won’t be reading it straight through — this isn’t a book you have to finish to get your money’s worth! The self-assessment test is well-designed — a lot of tests like this make it clear what the answer “should” be to create a particular outcome, and Levit’s avoided most of those pitfalls. If you or someone you know is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their life, pick up a copy of How’d You Score That Gig — you’re bound to find something you might have never thought of!

      More by this author

      How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works) Building Relationships: 11 Rules for Self-Promotion

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      Last Updated on September 18, 2019

      How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

      How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

      Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

      I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

      One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

      Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

      The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

      And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

      What to Write Down

      Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

      Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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      Dates of Events

      Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

      For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

      Names of People

      Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

      Theories or Frameworks

      Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

      Definitions

      Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

      Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

      Arguments and Debates

      Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

      This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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      Images

      Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

      Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

      Other Stuff

      Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

      I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

      Your Own Questions

      Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

      3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

      You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

      1. Outlining

      Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

      Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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      For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

      2. Mind-Mapping

      For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

      Here’s the idea:

      In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

      The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

      If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

      You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

      3. The Cornell System

      The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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      About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

      You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

      In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

      You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

      The Bottom Line

      I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

      I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

      More About Note-Taking

      Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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