BOOK REVIEW: A Career In Your Suitcase

by Lauren Keith, 25/09/2013


I must admit that, when I first received my copy of A CAREER IN YOUR SUITCASE I didn’t really have high hopes for it. Don’t get me wrong - I didn’t doubt that it would be a useful book for those looking for career opportunities they could pursue while living abroad - I just didn’t think it would be particularly relevant to me.

Although I’m an expat, I do not fall into the category of those wanting to pursue a career in their suitcase. Indeed, my need for a suitcase came as a result of my career choices. Still, given the book’s easy-to-read format, with its short, clearly labelled sections within each chapter, I thought it would be a good book to dip in and out of on the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) on my way to work in Singapore.

I guess this is why you should ‘never judge a book by its cover.’ In spite of myself, I found that reading A CAREER IN YOUR SUITCASE was not merely confined to my morning commute. It accompanied me on my breaks, to the pool, and anywhere else I happened to go in the time it took me to read it.

Early on, the book states that it “has much to offer the global nomad who needs a career with global networks” and that “it also speaks directly to anyone, anywhere, who has ever wanted to discover, once and for all, what they really want to do for a living and how to turn that dream into a reality.” Of the second part of the quoted text, a full stop could easily be placed after the words “it speaks directly to anyone”: because it really does.

One of the things I liked most about the book was the friendly tone used by the authors, Jo Parfitt and Colleen Reichrath-Smith, because reading it was almost like an old chum giving you advice over a cup of tea. Especially as I noticed quite a few similarities between the writers and myself - for example, I also know that “I won’t go to the gym if I’m alone.” And after years of being teased for being a ‘clean freak,’ I read the comments about the importance of your physical space with a certain degree of satisfaction. Also, I often think that it sometimes takes someone else to point out the seemingly obvious to you - things that sound so simple that you can‘t believe you didn’t think of them yourself - and the authors both have a talent for this.

I think that the book’s messages are so powerful, precisely because they are so simple. There were many moments while I was reading when I thought ‘that is exactly what I did.’ But until I’d seen it written down, I didn’t recognise that some of the processes mentioned were ones that I had gone through (subconsciously), when taking the decision to ditch good old England for Singapore. And statements such as: “sometimes we need to look more closely at the choices we make in order to spot the elements that excite us”, really resonated.

Style of writing aside, there is also much to be said for the content in A CAREER IN YOUR SUITCASE. It is full of practical advice and demonstrations of how this can be put into action; the “Ten Steps to a Career in Your Suitcase” are further broken down into small, manageable tasks. The result being that, having read the book, I felt ready to take on the world, and confident that I could build a career from MY suitcase! In addition, at the end of each chapter a wide range of resources are included to help you achieve your goals.

The topics covered are also accompanied by short accounts from expats sharing their experiences, both positive and negative. And I must admit, the highlight of the book for me was reading the accounts shared by the expats who contributed, including the authors’ backstories recounted in “Setting the Scene” (because I am shamelessly nosy!).

This is a must-read for all expats, those trying to turn their career dreams into reality, those who want an insight into working and living abroad and; indeed, for anyone who just wants to discover a little more about themselves. I was pleasantly surprised by A CAREER IN YOUR SUITCASE and would definitely recommend it.

See Lauren Keith's blog for more information about the author. 

A CAREER IN YOUR SUITCASE Jo Parfitt and Colleen Reichrath-Smith Summertime Publishing USD25.47

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