Dear Malia: 5 career tips for an Obama daughter

in Potpourri by

First, the good news. As you embark on your search for a college to attend, be assured that your fantastic grades (if not your famous name) will open doors to some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. And while your dad will be about to lose his job when you begin your freshman year, the lucrative careers as an author and public speaker that await him should more than cover your college expenses.

The bad news, though: history has been kind of rough on grown children of American presidents. For every Chelsea Clinton, there’s a George Washington Adams and an Andrew Johnson Jr., both of whom led checkered and failed lives.

Job UAlso, it’s kind of rough out here in the real world. Studies have shown that for recent college grads, only 51 percent are in jobs related to their college major, and only 44 percent expect to make more than $30,000 in their first year out of school.

Still, Malia, we think you’re going to be OK. But what about the rest of us? What about those who are about to embark on their careers—and those of us looking to jump-start one? Here are five tips from two new books: Job U: How to Find Wealth and Success by Developing the Skills Companies Actually Need, by Nicholas Wyman (Crown Business, 2015) and The Career Playbook: Essential Advice for Today’s Aspiring Young Professional, by James M. Citrin  (Crown Business, 2015):

Career Playbook1) Don’t underestimate the power of an associate’s degree. Many companies are turning to people with associates degrees to fill skill-specific jobs in fields such as aviation, computer technology, biomedical design and manufacturing, paralegal studies, nursing, hospitality management, sustainable horticulture to advanced manufacturing—to name just a few.

2) Take advantage of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships offer participants opportunities to learn hands-on skills under the supervision of experts in specific fields. These programs offer a host of benefits that complement, if not exceed, those of traditional education.

3) “Skill Up.” Acquiring skills, a passion for your work, a sense of purpose, and an eagerness to learn and excel are just as important as loading up on information in a classroom.

4) When you land the job you’re looking for, focus on the success of others. In his book, Citrin relates a conversation he had with Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways. “This may sound simplistic,” Branson said, “but always look for the best in others. Be compassionate and praise the people you work with.” Branson said that those who conduct themselves like this “will get on with others and, by extension, get the best results.”

5) Don’t quit. “You have the power to make it through challenging, stressful times,” Citrin writes. You just need to decide that you can.” As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”


Michael Ruscoe is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Southern Connecticut. He is the author of the novel, "From the Stray Cat Files: You’ll Do Anything," the anthology, "Baseball: A Treasury of Art and Literature," and numerous educational texts. An instructor at Southern Connecticut State University, Ruscoe is also lead singer and songwriter for the indie band Save the Androids! In his spare time he earns karma for his next life by ardently following the New York Mets. The proud father of two children, Ruscoe also cares for and supports a pair of goldfish, who, in all honesty, are not very good conversationalists.

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