A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work

Review of I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This by Julie Jansen

I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This

I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This: A Step-by-step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work by Julie Jansen wasn’t the first book of its kind that I had read, though it was the first one that I have finished. In general, it has the same advice as the rest of them. Some other similar books that I have started, but not yet finished include Next Gen PhD by Melanie Sinche, ReSearch: A Career Guide for Scientists by Natalie Lundsteen, Nathan L. Vanderford, and Teresa M. Evans, and A PhD Is Not Enough! A Guide to Survival in Science by Peter J. Feibelman. At the core of this book though, is completing assessments provided in the book about your interests, skills, values, and other career-related categories. Some of the questions to ask oneself include the following: What are your values? What do you value in your work? What do you value in life? What location would you like to live in? What type of work do you want to do? What are you good at? What do others say you’re good at? To determine what you want to do in life, you have to do the hard work of introspection and self-reflection. Sinche’s questionnaires to help guide you through this thinking process.

It is important to go through all of the questions and to be brutally honest. You want to figure out what works best for you, not what sounds the best. Because being so honest and introspective can be a challenge for most people, this process may not happen in one sitting. This exercise may need to be revisited repeatedly for days, even months. Over time, your ideas, values, and skills may change, so this type of career reflection should happen on a longer time scale as well.

Once you have a good understanding of what would you want to do, what you like, what are you good at, etc. the next step is to research potential jobs. Evaluate how they match your interests and skills. Read about them and even take it a step further and talk to people who work in the industry. When approaching someone that you would like to talk to, ask for an informal meeting and offer to pay for their coffee or banana bread or whatever. If possible, work in that field by either working as an intern or volunteer or take any other opportunities that exist.

Why I Chose This Book

So, when I first read this book, this was around the time when I knew I was preparing to graduate from graduate school. I understood that I should be more intentional about developing my career and seek a career path, but I felt that I needed some guidance. Did I want to stay in academia, go to industry, or what? I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I did what I knew best, sought information, especially in the form of books.

One day I was looking on the website RBdigital.com and I searched for books about careers or determining a career path and I came across I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This: A Step-by-step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work by Julie Jansen. So, I downloaded the audiobook and got right into it.


This book doesn’t seem to be a bad introduction to career assessment and advice. There may be better books, but reading this one won’t hurt either.

Sidenote: Scientists can also use the website myIDP for more career assessments.

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