10 Books Every College Grad Should Read Before Their First Day of Work

Leaping from college to corporate America can be a fun and scary time. Chances are this is the first you will be having significant money coming in. This seems to be around the time people hop off their parent’s insurance, cell phone plans, etc. These transitional periods definitely come with their challenges but from experience have been the biggest opportunities for growth. Since that transition,  I have read countless books and my only regret is I didn’t start reading sooner. Here my top ten that I wish I read before my first job.

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When I was interviewing at different places I underappreciated the value of a 90-day plan.  First impressions last a lifetime. Being able to come to an interview with a 90-day plan shows a ton of initiative and a testament to your willingness to prepare. Not to mention, when you get the job and officially start that 90-day plan is there to assist you in whatever generic onboarding process they already have in place.

What Got You Here Won't Get You There

Biggest takeaway is just because the strategy you are using now is leading you to be successful it doesn’t meant that same strategy will work in the next role. In college, a lot of times you are given assignments, tests projects, with rubrics, study guides etc. You are tasked with regurgitating material. Depending on where you work, it’s not as straightforward as doing what you’re told. Doing what you are told is the equivalent of being a C student. Going above and beyond and finding ways to find ways to provide value is what makes you an A+ employee in the workplace

How To Win Friends & Influence People

The pessimist reads this title and thinks the goal is to manipulate and the optimist realizes they can learn to more effectively communicate. This book has been around for decades. There’s a reason for that. At the end of the day, people are still people with little much changing our egos over all the years. If you want to learn a little more about what makes people tick and how to be an effective communicator you can’t go wrong with this classic.

The Greatest Salesman in the World

Perhaps you don’t work in sales for your company but you are still selling every day. Whether it’s a manager on a new idea or you are bargaining on a car purchase. It’s a pithy book that wallops a punch. If you like to read things that can be a shot of adrenaline and sow seeds of confidence this quick read is the trick.

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Written by Robert Cialdini, who is a consultant for Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet. If that’s enough of validation to convince you that this read will benefit you I don’t know what will. This book does a phenomenal job pointing out different marketing tactics we fall for and how we are all being influenced and don’t even realize it. If you have never studied marketing this can be as refreshing as a cold shower. You are in for some eye opening discoveries.

So Good They Can't Ignore You

Great piece of work that hammers home the point that skills trump passion anyday. You may be the the most passionate basketball player but if you don’t have any skills then you won’t become anything significant in terms of playing basketball. In a current, climate that is high on following passion by any means this is an antidote that talk about working hard, refining skills and becoming passionate about the work you do later. Always important to see the other side of the spectrum when so many people are falling for the passion fallacy in droves.

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Great book about challenging status quo of corporate work life and so many preconceived notions we all have about this big world. I think this book forces you to think creatively in ways to elevate your current performance in your career. Or start drumming up that side hustle you have been thinking about.

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You may do a double take and think this book doesn’t belong but trust me when I say it does. This book helps put in perspective how much we are in control of our thoughts and lives. We control our thoughts and how we choose to react to things. Whether it is a frustrating meeting or your boss is a jerk. This book helps put things in perspective.

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing

There always seems like there is a ton of investment advice being thrown around in the workplace. “My cousin works for so and so and they are going to double in size next year, buy now while it’s cheap” – Random Coworker. This is an all too frequent occurrence and this book helps dispel some of the myths and helps provide clarity for funds you may want to be selected in your 401k, Roth/Traditional IRA, etc. 

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This book is fun. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening in our little world of work then sometimes we forget about the vastness and beauty of this world. It’s about one cranky NPR reporter’s quest to find the happiest place on Earth. Provides wonderful insights into how the rest of the world operates.

Believe it or not, I haven’t read every national bestseller ever written. So given that disclaimer, this list is only a drop in the bucket. But these are books that have had a profound impact on me thus far. Please use this as a guide and a starting point not as an exhaustive comprehensive list. What’s your favorite book? What would you add and remove?

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