Neil O’Donnell is here today and we’re chatting about his non-fiction/self-help book, The Career-Minded Student.
Welcome, Neil. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a clinical anthropologist specialized in career and personal counseling with nearly twenty years of experience helping students and seasoned professionals find jobs. It is from that experience that I wrote this book, my goal being to make college grads as competitive as possible by the time they graduate. Additionally, I have certifications in stress management, integrative mental health and trauma & crisis counseling.
Please tell us about your current release.
My current release is essentially a blueprint for undergraduates on how to determine the best career path for them while also guiding them to excel in classes AND gain career-relevant experience before they even graduate. It is a plan that I have seen work countless times and help people (like me, who has degrees in Anthropology) find good jobs after graduation (jobs related to their major/career goals).
What inspired you to write this book?
My own college journey. These steps are essentially all that I did to be competitive with my Bachelor’s in Anthropology (a degree many argue is a useless degree). Every career goal I’ve had I have achieved through the steps I discuss in the book.
Excerpt from The Career-Minded Student:
This is your journey and yours alone! Parents, teachers, friends and others will provide all sorts of advice on what majors and career paths you should pursue. They are well intentioned, but much of the advice given is based on hunches. When I was in high school, guidance counselors and other educators pushed students towards a small set of careers, most emphasis placed on biology, chemistry and computer science. I actually intended on pursuing biology with a focus on marine studies, but anthropology and the study of other cultures dominated my interests. Thankfully, my parents pushed me to pursue my interests. I am quite happy with my major and career choice twenty years after graduating from college, and I owe a lot of that to having pursued my interests. Meanwhile, I watched a lot of friends and students, pushed by family and teachers, struggle through STEM majors (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) until they either switched majors or dropped out of college. Why did many of these students struggle? As a tutor and academic mentor, I found a lot of students struggling with STEM classes because they were not truly interested in the material. They actually were more interested in Communications, English, History or something else, but they bowed to outside pressure. As for the actual job market, things rarely work out the way “experts” anticipate. I know quite a few STEM graduates who took a long time to find employment after graduation where as my friends with Arts and Humanities degrees often found degree-related employment right after graduation, if not before. What really made the difference for most? Those interested in their studies seemed more energized about their field and likewise entered the job market enthusiastically.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am returning to my fantasy series before my publisher kills me.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I knew I was a writer a couple years before I turned ten. I wrote short stories and even started a novel when I was 13 (finally published that novel in 2009).
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write a considerable amount and serve as an editor for colleagues and various departments at the colleges I’ve worked at. My primary job is as a clinical anthropologist, providing personal, academic and career guidance to college students. I also periodically teach cultural anthropology, archaeology, museum studies and critical thinking courses.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love rearranging the offices of my colleagues. I love it even more when they get me back.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Archaeologist/Anthropologist and Marine Biologist
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Don’t fear following your passion, and remember that you are permitted to change your passion and career goals.
Thanks for being here today, Neil!