Book by Richard N. Bolles
Review by Jeffrey T. Domagala
Office of Integrative Learning and Advising
Grand Valley State University

It is rare to talk to a student during an advising appointment and not inquire about the direction the student is heading towards post-graduation. I often receive questions like: “What can I do with my degree?” This book delivers a clear message to its reader about understanding yourself, interviewing, the ins and outs of job searching, and practical skills that are useful throughout the entire job process. Bolles’ book gives advisors a fresh perspective as to how times are changing in the workforce and how students can remain proactive about their brand, their intentions, and their search.
Many career books leave the reader yearning for more as they close the book with unanswered questions. Bolles’ paperback gives the reader eleven chapters of go-to information useful to the reader who is engaged in self-exploration or learning about vocational guidance.

Although not every page will apply to every person; each page holds its own purpose and might take several read-throughs to find relevant information for the reader. Advisors can strongly benefit from walking their students through the exercises provided throughout the text which will help to evaluate a student’s skills, talents, and strengths. Many of the personal reflection questions will help the student uncover each petal of their “flower.”  The representation of the seven petals; a series of thought-provoking questions helps to actualize a person’s journey from interested fields of knowledge, uncovering their transferrable skills, to developing goals, establishing a mission, and finding their purpose. After one completes their “flower,” Bolles walks the reader through how to actualize all of the values gained from the diagram and how to utilize them in everyday conversations, interactions, and finding careers.

Some of the most helpful and nurturing documents can be found at the conclusion of the book in the appendix, otherwise known as “The Pink Pages.” These pages help the reader find their mission in life by posing questions many college students have not begun to answer because many don’t allow time for self-reflection. Additionally, the last few pages give the reader guidance on locating career coaches all over the world. Each conversation that we have with our students is different; therefore this is not an all-purpose “one size fits all” resource. This book can be referenced, lent out, and used in the context of helping your students make the next step on to whatever that might be.

My dialogue with students about their career path has been positively influenced after reading this coherent, very understandable book. I am now able to give students assurance about handicaps that they think they have and provide them with questions that they might not have thought of before they entered my office. Bolles’ book is just the start of the career conversation. Although referrals to the career center might remain essential, this volume makes the advisor feel just as capable to begin the career conversation.  

What Color is Your Parachute? (2013). Book by Richard N. Bolles. Review by Jeffrey T. Domagala. Emeryville, CA: Ten Speed Press (randomhouse). 368pp., $18.99, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-60774-362-0
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