Money To Live

August 9, 2008

Review: Grindhopping

Filed under: career,review — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

Grindhopping: Building a Rewarding Career Without Paying Your Dues by Laura Vanderkam

Students at top universities frequently take high-paying entry-level jobs, and they are not passionate about their day-to-day work. Maybe in 5-10 years of “paying your dues,” those who stick it out will get their hands dirty with the fun and interesting work.

Instead of building a career the standard way, Vanderkam says to hop over the grind and build your career around your passions. Her main point to identify your passion and get someone to pay you for doing it. She writes great case studies of young people who do what they love in spite of opposition from family and big risks from starting a new business. She gives useful suggestions (“always be your own boss” and “think projects, not jobs”) and insight into common concerns (how to get health insurance). She gives advice on how to get by financially in the early years of a new business (the words “ramen noodles” are used a lot).

One of the most interesting parts of the book is about advanced degrees and the use of adjuncts in higher education. Vanderkam says not to pursue an advanced degree unless it is necessary (i.e., M.D. and J.D.). An adjunct is hired by a university to teach one or a few classes at a time. It is a temporary position with no formal guarantee of work from semester to semester.

Universities boast of the high percentage (some even boast 100%) of classes taught by faculty, but the truth is that lots of universities hire a lot of adjuncts (REFERENCE). To someone on the academic job market (a lot of the people I know), this is bad news. It is cheaper for a university to hire adjuncts than create another tenure-track position. Some might call it as outsourcing within the United States. What Vanderkam says, though, is that this is good news for everyone without a Ph. D. Ever wanted to teach at a university but did not want to spend 5 to 10+ years in school earning what might qualify you for food stamps? You might be able to teach as an adjunct.

I interpret her advice more about business school than a research based graduate program. Without a Ph. D. in biology, it is difficult to get lab space to run experiments about your passion, such as finding a vaccine for HIV. During the two years it would take to complete business school, though, you could start your own business and learn hands-on from its failures and successes.

I left Grindhopping feeling a little disappointed because I do not have just one passion. My passions include personal finance, reading, practicing yoga, and math. Now I am reading Marci Alboher’s One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success to learn what it means to be a “slash.”

Note: I considered a “thumps up, thumbs down” rating system for book reviews. This would never work because I would give 95% of the books a thumbs up. I am too nice.


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