06/01/2005

What Do I Like to Do?

Book Review by Thomas F. Harrington

What Do I Like to Do?: 101 Activities to Identify Interests and Plan Careers by Janet E. Wall (2005) 200 pages

The Content of What Do I LIKE to Do?

The book's focus is on interests and the impact they have on our lives, positive and negative. The book prepares counselors and workforce development professionals to know how their clients can take charge of their life decisions. The uniqueness of this book is its comprehensiveness. Typical textbook chapters on this subject range from 35 to 40 pages. What Do I LIKE to Do? contains 193 pages, resulting in a more thorough coverage. My experience has been that students (i.e. counselors in training) would relish the specific materials and would gladly pay $28 to know what to do when they first encounter their clients. Many textbooks only provide a brief survey of the topic. Dr. Wall's book has been designed to develop skills and competencies in ten specific content areas which, without question, would help clients.

The Book's Key Points:

  • Demonstrates many activities using the Holland RIASEC theory with applications to school subjects, out-of-school activities, education and training, and occupations and jobs.
  • Gives 101 unique activities to identify interests and plan careers. The activities can accommodate elementary, middle, and high school students as well as adults. The topics, ranging from Thoreau to movie stars and TV programs, will definitely catch people's attention. Many of the activities can be integrated into academic content areas such as math, science, etc.
  • Supplies reproducible forms for Elementary, Middle School, High School, and Post-secondary Career Plans.
  • Illustrates how 'likes' can be measured quickly without a published interest inventory and matched with occupations.
  • Details how to select a commercial interest inventory with nine inventories presented in detail.
  • Describes how to involve local employers in a career development program.
  • Supplies listings of related web sites and occupations by RIASEC area.

Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Activity materials will accommodate many different learning styles. A visual/spatial learning style example is "Picture This (you might want to work with the art teacher on this activity) Identify some pieces of art work in each of the six interest areas of Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C). Show the pieces of art and ask the students to determine the interest area that each piece of art represents." Possible pieces of art work include: 'Dance Class at the Opera by Degas'; Musee d'Orsay, Paris (found at http://www.musee-orsay.fr) .' (Web sites are given for seven other art works.)
  • Hands-on involvement will stimulate interest and involvement. "Word Search (shows an anagram): Find and circle the word representing the six basic interest areas of Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. The words can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal."
  • Helpers can be teachers, counselors or a parent(s)/guardian and the delivery can be done either in groups or individually. Tell the students to do this exercise with their parent(s) or guardian and say the results will be discussed in the next class. "TV Programs Have the family agree on their favorite three television programs. This can be done through a brief discussion and compiling a list of favorites and then a vote for the top three. Ask the family to identify the occupations of the major characters in each show and match the occupation according to its primary interest area. Ask the following if they apply: On television are there particular occupations that seem to be represented more than others? Are there particular interest areas that seem to be more prevalent than others? Do the occupations represented on television seem to be similar or different from what is typical in our society; in your family?"
  • Activities have been designed to produce practical and measurable outcomes. An example of this type activity is "Birthday Presents Using six different colored pencils or crayons, one color for each interest area, draw a line between the interest area in various birthday presents that a person with that primary interest area might like to receive. Some birthday presents would be appreciated by people in more than one interest area. Can you identify these?"
  • Training programs: because of a time crunch to cover other competency areas such as theory, research and evaluation, etc., training programs may shorten the supervision time given to new learners to develop the full expertise that is covered in this book
  • The rich content of this book could have been presented as the basis for developing a curriculum in career planning.

Judging from the varied strategies noted in the Strengths above, you can see how clients can better understand their interests in a fun way. What Do I LIKE to Do? demonstrates methodology to show how interests permeate our lives. Many activities clearly illustrate how to learn about more occupations and information about them. Helpers using the skills described in this book will facilitate their clients to make more informed life decisions.


Thomas F. Harrington holds a Ph.D. in counseling from Purdue University and teaches vocational psychology and career counseling courses in the Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology at Northeastern University in Boston. In 2004 he received the National Career Development Association's highest honor, The Eminent Career Award. He is the co-author of the award winning Harrington-O'Shea Career Decision-Making System; the Ability Explorer; The College Majors Handbook: The Actual Jobs, Earnings, and Trends for Graduates of 60 College Majors (2nd ed); Career Planning; and the Handbook of Career Planning for Special Needs Students (3rd ed.). He can reached atEmail: harington@comcast.net

Wall's book is available in NCDA's online Career Resource Store .


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