Interview with writer/author Neil O’Donnell about The Career-Minded Student

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
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!
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
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?
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
Thanks for being here today, Neil!

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