Book by Troy R. Nielson
Review by Kelsey Smyth
Academic Advisor
University of Central Arkansas

In his preface, Troy Nielson states, “Learning key principles and tools to improve your odds of an effective career is the purpose of this book” (p. xiii).  The trials and tribulations of career search, selection, and planning are elements of life that all college graduates must employ in the real world.  Career Trek does a great job outlining the different steps involved in finding a career in a way that is easy to understand and use.

Nielson uses Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster as a foundation for the analogies in this work. The “career trek” is likened to a trek up a mountain, or more specifically here, up Mount Everest.  The comparisons illustrate Nielson’s points. He has chosen this overall theme to emphasize the importance of the career search. He acknowledges that while it is not quite as dangerous as undertaking a climb of Everest, career search is something that should not be taken lightly. Nielson compares what a climber stows in his pack to the traits, skills, and talents the applicant brings to a job (Chapter 4). He compares the résumé and cover letter to the passports needed to begin the trek (Chapter 5), and the climbing party to networking (Chapter 6). His theme reinforces that preparation is needed, and that there are unavoidable steps to take, or legs to climb, to reach the summit of the career trek. Despite the impact of the analogy, the theme may read a little young for the intended audience: college seniors or recent graduates. 

The suggestions in Career Trek actually apply to individuals in all stages of their career journey.  Advisors at schools lacking a career/job search preparation course will find that this book fills in some of the gaps.  While the book is written for soon-to-be college graduates, there are many resources and exercises that can be used with students throughout college, from the undecided freshman, to the corporate minded senior. Nielson includes information about several online interest inventories, and also gives examples of interview questions, résumés, and cover letters that could be easily used in both seminars and individual advising sessions. This book would best be used for students interested in the corporate world.  Many of the illustrations and examples are taken from interactions that the author has had with corporate executives, and thus provide an excellent picture of how to find a corporate job. However, while there are many great suggestions for those searching for jobs in other circles, those readers will need to sift through the corporate information to find what would apply to their chosen fields.

While this is a well written, easy to read text for a career seminar, it also would be effective for the solo reader. Career Trek would be a good resource for advisors working with seniors, particularly seniors in the business field.  For advisors working with younger students or students interested in academia or non-profits, it is a more than adequate way to nudge students in the right direction.  


Krakauer, J. (1999). Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. New York: Anchor Books.  

Career Trek.  (2008).  Book by Troy R. Nielson.  Review by Kelsey Smyth. Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education, Inc., 171 pp. (paperback).  ISBN # 978-0-13-119304-8
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |