they-dont-teach-corporate-in-college-a-twenty-somethings-guide-to-the-business-world-3rd-editionAuthor: Alexandra Levit
Publisher: Career Press – 240 pages
Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

Millions of people around the world have become successful in business and wealthy without going to business school, and even without going to college. There are lessons one learns in ‘the school of hard knocks’ that are typically not taught in school.

Speaking to some graduates of business school, they’ve told me that what they learned pertains mainly to managing a business, not building it from the ground up. Business builders typically hire college-educated managers to run day-to-day operations while they focus on growing revenues and profits. Courses in entrepreneurship however, are somewhat different.

This book first published in 2004 was the result of Alexandra Levit’s years of personal experience in the workplace. She wrote about the lessons she learned in real life that no other writer before her had done. The book resonated with twenty-somethings who were just beginning to get into the business world.

Everything was going great with her then, as she worked in a Fortune 500 company. But she had her share of ups and downs and in short, was not totally happy with the jobs that followed. This book is about the lessons she learned as she adapted, and what she learned through that process ultimately brought her satisfaction. This book is her way of sharing what she experienced. It is her basic message of career preparedness, and the need to acquire new skills, and be adaptable.

The job market began to get very tough with the 2008 recession. Unemployment and underemployment soared among young college graduates and professionals who lost their jobs. They sat idle for years. One of the reasons for this joblessness was a widening gap between skills required by employers and the skills possessed by jobseekers.

This third and current edition was published in 2014. She writes in the Preface: “only 15 percent of hiring managers feel that current candidates have the requisite skills to fill an open position,” This was based on the Job Preparedness Indicator research conducted by her nonprofit organization Career Advisory Board.

“I’m doing what I can to address this skills gap… this new edition is jam-packed with new content, including advice for navigating a business world that is increasingly global, virtual, entrepreneurial, and unpredictable. You’ll hear thirty-somethings sharing wisdom with twenty-somethings, and you will hear my take on the most frequent questions asked.”

To give you an overview of what you will find in this book, we have outlined the titles of the chapters below:


  1. Find Yourself, Find a Paycheck
  2. Congratulations, You’re Hired !
  3. Working the Crowd
  4. Be the Master of Your Plan
  5. The Purposeful Workday
  6. Check Your Attitude at the Door
  7. People Management
  8. Moving Up in the World
  9. You’re the Boss Now!
  10. Exit Stage Left


This book is also about the need to develop good relationships, and be pleasing even to people you cannot get along easily with. She writes: “One of my managers disliked me so much that I was convinced I had killed her in a past life. I held an entry-level position for 16 months while people with half my intelligence and work ethic lapped me.”

She learned that the world of business and the professions is very unlike academic life,. In college, if you work hard, get good grades, and stay out of trouble, you are happy, and hopeful that you will land a job that you will enjoy doing.

“I complained to anyone who would listen about the death of common sense in the workplace, and how my expensive undergraduate education was being wasted on clearing paper jams from the printers.”

Levit writes that she wants to help those who are just beginning their journey in the world of work, as well as those who have been in it for some time, by assuring them “that it is possible to make sense of this upside-down world.”



Alexandra Levit is the author of six books and has written for The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. An internationally-recognized leader on career and workplace issues and trends, she has consulted for the Obama administration as well as for Fortune 500 organizations such as American Express, Campbell Soup, Deloitte, Intuit, McDonalds, Microsoft, and Whirlpool. Alexandra was recently named Money magazine’s Career Expert of the Year and Northwestern University’s Emerging Leader of the Year. Visit her at