May is commencement month, a time for saluting students as they cross the academic finish line. In honor of the occasion, we’re featuring two terrific books that will empower graduates as they prepare for the future.
What comes next? It’s a question most grads ponder—and one that’s not easily answered. For those looking to land a dream job or pursue another degree, Meredith Fineman’s Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion is a must-read. Fineman is CEO of the professional development company FinePoint, and in this eye-opening guide, she explores the ways in which bragging—a practice that’s often equated with pushiness and aggression—can serve as a key to success.
Fineman takes a bold approach in this accessible book. Her advice: Go ahead and sell yourself! “Bragging better,” she says, “requires cultivating pride in your work and then taking small actions that help you share it with those around you.” She offers pointers for identifying and articulating personal strengths and helps readers leverage that info to create standout resumes, social media profiles, personal websites and more. She also provides tips on how to make a great first impression. When done in the right way, Fineman says, speaking up about skills and accomplishments can change a life trajectory for the better. Her book will give a boost to grads who are grappling with big career questions and help them move forward with confidence.
Navigate Your Stars
As grads say goodbye to fond friends and familiar routines, it can be helpful to remember that the path to fulfillment is often indirect and that finding a new sense of direction can take time. Jesmyn Ward, the award-winning author of Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing, emphasizes these ideas in Navigate Your Stars, a beautifully illustrated edition of the commencement speech she delivered at Tulane University in 2018. Paired with whimsical visuals by artist Gina Triplett, Ward’s text mixes moving personal anecdotes with words of inspiration.
In this exhilarating little volume, Ward shares memories of growing up poor and black in Mississippi and looks back at the obstacles she’s encountered over the years, including the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. She also provides insights into her evolution as a writer. Throughout, she stresses the importance of identifying goals and ambitions and then pursuing them. “Take a step that will lead you toward the realization of your dream,” Ward writes, “and then take another, and another, and another.” Her reflections will fortify readers as they embark on a new phase, whether that’s entering graduate school, starting a job or a business or slowing down to decompress and strategize.
Commencement is a time to celebrate—and recalibrate. Ward’s book will help grads do both.