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A Novel Idea: Advisors’ Book Club

A Novel Idea: Advisors’ Book Club

EACE Blog contribution by Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director, Virginia Tech Career Services

Seeking a less costly professional development program for your advisors?? Do you lead a team of new professionals? Are you looking for a teambuilding initiative? An Advisors’ Book Club can do this and more!

Student in Deet's Place Coffee Lounge

Student in Deet’s Place Coffee Lounge

It all started after I read a book review of The Career Counselor’s Handbook in NCDA’s web magazine, Career Convergence, a few years ago. As I prepared to lead a four-member team of new professionals, I sought to implement an initiative that would grow our knowledge about our craft and make us a more cohesive group. I thought the Handbook would be a valuable resource for each of us, so with funding support from my supervisor, I introduced an Advisors’ Book Club. Since that first book, we’ve moved on to several others for what is now our third year of this club (see Reading List below).

The club meets on a bi-weekly basis for an hour at an on-campus coffee shop on the Monday mornings we don’t have Staff or Advisor Meetings. What an energizing way to start a week! In addition to the team with which I work, we opened the club to all advisors, with anywhere from 6-10 participants for various books.

Our Reading List:

  • The Career Counselor’s Handbook by Howard Figler and Richard N. Bolles
  • How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath, Ph.D. and Donald O. Clifton
  • Luck Is No Accident by John D Krumholtz
  • The Appreciative Advising Revolution by Jennifer L. Bloom , Bryant L. Hutson, and Ye He
  • You Majored in What? by Katharine Brooks
  • Little Princes by Conor Grennan (Virginia Tech 2013 and 2014 Common Book which all first year students receive, http://www.commonbook.vt.edu/)
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Well Being by Tom Rath, Ph.D. and James K. Harter

Advisors’ Speak:

To me the book club is a great way to grow as a career services professional, and to take control of your own professional development. Since our book club is “opt-in” and not mandatory, you also get people who genuinely enjoy reading, and are engaged in the conversation.

Katie Steuer, Career Advisor

The Book Club has been a delight. I feel like the book club allows for greater cohesion and understanding of one another’s strengths and perspectives. I am very glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and participated. Even if our book choice is not my preference, I will still participate in the Advisors’ Book Club because the camaraderie and personal/professional development it yields is well worth the time reading the book.

Johanna Smith, Assistant Director

Reading Cheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” as a male career counselor in a predominately female office setting really allowed me to reflect on my male-identity within the context of the work that I do. Unpacking the challenges and considerations of students whose gender may be atypical within the profession that they worked has allowed me to better advise students trying to navigate searching for, researching, and entering into those professions.

Mark Smiley, Graduate Assistant

The “Advisor’s Book Club” was also one of the most productive uses of my time, in that I was learning more material, I was then able to reflect on this material, and I was able to reflect with other professionals with similar experiences and hear their views, which informed my views. Also, I think it really brought us together as a group, so that we have been working more cooperatively as a whole group as a direct result of this group. And, one last thought, this was a very inexpensive investment that resulted in these enormous benefits and gains! I certainly think that spending this time every 2-3 weeks was the BEST USE of my time in any activity I have done professionally in the last 3-4 years!

Carol Robinson, Director, Health Professions Advising

What Book Do You Recommend?

book clubAs advisors share above, the Advisors’ Book Club provides an inexpensive means to grow our knowledge, discuss our readings as well as issues we’ve encountered, and build our work relationships. Although I don’t have the quantitative research to prove it, I know I’m a better advisor thanks to my involvement in the Advisors’ Book Club. In closing, if you have a book you think our club should read or want more information, I would love to hear from you.


Claire Childress

Claire Childress

Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director for Job Search and Graduate School Preparation, has worked for Virginia Tech Career Services over 17 years. A 2012 graduate of the Appreciative Advising Institute and self-described appreciative advising groupie, she was a featured blogger on the LinkedIn Career Service Professionals Group with, “You Had Me at Hello” and co-presented a webinar with Dr. Jennifer Bloom on Appreciative Advising and Career Services in April 2013. A former President of the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers, Claire currently serves as 2014 Local Arrangements Co-Chair for the 2014 SoACE Annual Conference and Hospitality and Entertainment Co-Chair for the 2014 VACE Annual Conference. Claire obtained her MBA, from Virginia Tech; a BA, economics, cum laude, from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, VA; and spent a year studying abroad at the University of Reading, England. Claire writes regularly for her career advising blog, CareerChassé.  Feel free to connect with Claire on LinkedIn.

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