Brooks, Ed.D., K. (2017). You majored in what?: Designing your path from college to career. New York, NY: Plume

Review by: Jennifer F. Lewis, University of Cincinnati, [email protected]

You Majored in What? is a quick read for college freshmen through administrators to guide oneself or students in the career search. Brooks uses Chaos Theory to explain the complexity, yet the simplicity of searching for one’s career. She is recognized as a career coach, trainer, professor, and counselor and speaks to each of these audiences as well as students. The book is approachable and tangible, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the content and truly soul search with the assistance of guided activities, not just by reading page after page.

Starting with chaos theory, Brooks states that the reader will “…create a resilient career strategy, adapt to change, be open to possibilities, know you are in charge, create a vision and have direction, and embrace the chaos…” (p.13). This aggressive - yet friendly approach - leaves the reader wanting more.  On the next page, Brooks delivers as she helps the reader answer THE QUESTION “What are you going to do with that?” (p.1). By using the butterfly effect to explain chaos theory, Brooks writes that “a chaos-based career system allows for change and the unexpected.”  She continues, “Giving yourself permission to explore and let events unfold is a wise and practical approach indeed. After all, employers are more interested in your competencies – what you do well – than in your major.” (p.14).

The book is divided into four parts: discover your strengths, develop your vision, design your path, and deliver your talents, which is inspired by “Appreciative Inquiry”, a positive, strengths-based approach to organizational change (p.14). Each section contains “wisdom builders,” which are a variety of real-life examples, reflection activities, or thought joggers. They build upon the written content allowing the reader to explore their thoughts, ideas, desires, and passions. Brooks delivers a pragmatic approach to guiding a student (seasoned professional) though career discovery. She helps draw connections to everyone to see that you can do [almost] anything you want, with a major in X.

With approachable content, this book is welcoming to a wide variety of readers. When applying it to Academic Advising, it can be extremely functional for undecided students, and students who decide late in their college career that they wish to do something else with their degree. The latter of these two student groups may become discouraged or disenchanted with their degree, however, the book may help them translate their skills and value to their new career trajectory. If you think about your major in college and what you actually became, most of us would not be able to draw a straight line between the area of study and a full-time career. Simply stated, that is just not how life works.

Brooks writes in a way that allows academic advisors to draw connections to NACADA’s Academic Advising Core CompetenciesYou majored in what? provides the advising community with specific examples that link theory (C3) and academic advising approaches and strategies (C4). Advisors seeking to master the competencies outlined in NACADA’s information component will find that this book easily pairs with I6, by providing a theory-based resource that supports student success. Lastly, Brooks helps facilitate problem solving, decision making, meaning-making, planning, and goal setting (R6) throughout the book by never devaluing one’s career choice, but by empowering the reader to draw parallels between learned skills and desired professional qualities.  

You majored in what? can be used in a variety of ways in higher education. Aside from making an appearance in a Career Services office, academic advisors and first-year experience offices could utilize various pieces to help a student explore their career interests from an academic/skills mindset. At the very least, this book can provide insight to the academic advising community on how to coach a student though understanding how their personal interests and skills can lead to just about any career.


Brooks, Ed.D., K. (2017). You majored in what?: Designing your path from college to career. New York, NY: Plume

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core
competencies model. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx

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