Help Wanted: Tales from the First Job Front

Sydney Lewis, Author
Sydney Lewis, Author New Press $25 (310p) ISBN 978-1-56584-369-1
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
Paperback - 310 pages - 978-1-56584-745-3
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Twenty-five young people tell Lewis the good, the bad and the ugly about their first efforts to find a full-time job in this informative study of the real world of work. A prot g of legendary oral historian Studs Terkel, Lewis (""A Totally Alien Life Form"": Teenagers; Hospital: An Oral History of Cook County Hospital) astutely allows 20-somethings to tell their stories in their own words. Marc Spiegler, for example, explains how his first gig at a market-research firm taught him to hate the corporate workplace; after an exasperating two years, a casual conversation led him to journalism school and a successful career as a writer. Max Leonard, on the other hand, deferred college for a year to participate in Boston's City Year program, a kind of urban peace corps. ""I have inspiration for years saved up from this experience,"" he told Lewis. Of course, life isn't always so rosy: Grace Tilsit, working at a Big Six consulting firm, told Lewis how she made a disastrous mistake on a client's account. Some of the people profiled are simply more compelling and eloquent than others; there are also too many platitudes (""You gotta experience, you gotta live, you gotta do"") and banal conclusions: internships are invaluable; make as many connections as you can; switch jobs if you're unhappy. However, these are lessons many young people want--or need--to hear, which positions Lewis's book as a potentially popular graduation gift. Most of the interviews date from 1997, and a ""Where are they now?"" epilogue allows the reader to see how the people Lewis profiled succeeded--or failed--in following through on their dreams. (Jan.)
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