Author and serial entrepreneur GL Hoffman introduced me to Karen Burns this week, author of “The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use.” Karen has an awesome blog packed with great career advice so naturally I had to share her story, blog and book with you!
What’s your career story/background?
Simply this: I have had a ton of jobs. I didn’t start out life trying to work as many jobs as possible, I never wanted to be a “job hopper.” But not long ago when I decided to count up how many jobs I’d had, it was 59! I can think of three reasons for this: (1) I started young, (2) for many years I worked two jobs at a time, and (3) also for many years I worked freelance and had numerous clients. Oh, also I moved around a lot. I guess that’s four reasons. Result: Over a period of 40 years I worked 59 different jobs in 22 cities and 4 countries. What kind of jobs? Well, I’ve been a secretary, bank teller, waitress, teacher, model, ditch digger, bookkeeper, middle manager, journalist, dishwasher, editor, cashier, and more. I did not enjoy all my jobs, and had to search for quite a while to find work I loved, but I learned a lot about resourcefulness and flexibility.
How did you decide to write a book?
The project started when I was taking a writing class. I wrote about some of my jobs for one of the assignments, the teacher suggested I write more, and when she realized how many jobs I’d had, she said, “This would make a great book!” The rest is, as they say, history.
What is your book about and which types of girls benefit most from reading your book?
My book has 59 chapters, one for each job. Each chapter tells a story from a job and then gives career/life advice based on what happened in the story. It’s everything from salary negotiation to how to handle criticism to boss management to finding your dream job. The book also has illustrations: cartoons, graphs, charts, diagrams. It’s short and fun and easy to read but has actual real advice that actually works. The “target audience” (that’s publishing talk) is young women just out of high school or college, but older women (thirties, forties, and beyond) who’ve read the book have mentioned to me they also really enjoyed it. Even if you already know something, it’s nice to have it confirmed. And it’s comforting to see that others have gone through the same things you have.
What advice would you give to twentysomething-aged women who are just starting out their career?
I would say don’t get too nervous if you don’t find the job of your dreams right out of the chute. You may have to try out a few less-than-perfect jobs before finding The One. You may even completely change your mind about what career you want. More than once! This is okay. You should try your best, and give every job an honest effort, but it can take time to find your niche. You don’t need to beat yourself up about it. Our jobs are a big part of our lives, and can be the source of a lot of happiness and fulfillment. But finding good work takes, um, work.