Working as a waitress at T.G.I. Friday's, Ann Patchett couldn't help but wonder why she had landed in such a line of work after six years of higher education. Based on the commencement address she gave at her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, What now? follows the renowned novelist through college and beyond, with inspiring and humorous anecdotes of the many stops and starts in her career as an award-winning writer. Patchett's essays prove that the greatest life lessons occur at the oddest of times, such as when you're scrubbing dishes with a graduate degree. This gift book is ideal for the anxious college grad who could use a reminder that there is joy to be found in unplanned moments.

Tanner Stransky has found a way to convert those couch potato hours into tools for the young professional. In Find Your Inner Ugly Betty, the Entertainment Weekly writer gleans lessons from popular TV shows like "Ugly Betty," "The Office" and "Grey's Anatomy" for eager grads who want to climb the career ladder those first few years after college. With style lessons from the fabulous Carrie Bradshaw, employer relationship challenges with the grouchy Lou Grant and goal-setting strategies a la Betty Suarez, Stransky has fashioned a humorous yet valuable set of on-the-job tips. Who would have figured that the folks at Dunder-Mifflin held the secrets for career success?

For the L.A.-bound graduate harboring delusions of tabloid grandeur, The Hollywood Assistants Handbook aims to turn blindly optimistic dreams into diligent reality. With the book's 86 insider rules, a new grad can learn how to live for free, pimp her looks and assemble an army of interns at her disposal. Authors and former Hollywood assistants Hillary Stamm and Peter Nowalk dish out advice on all aspects of the job, from striking up the right conversation with George Clooney to turning Target wear into Barneys fashion. For these successful power players, name-dropping, shameless flirting and suck-up strategizing are tools of the trade and not for the weak of heart or stomach. The balance of humor and reverence for old-fashioned hard work make the guide a valuable asset for those headed for the Hills.

What's That Job and How the Hell Do I Get It? doesn't waste time with career anecdotes, offering "the inside scoop on more than 50 cool jobs from people who actually have them." David J. Rosen's research provides the honest, and sometimes hard to swallow, truth about achieving success in some of the most envied jobs as well as offering a peek into the daily lives of those who claim them. Also provided are characteristics for the ideal candidate, salary information and ratings on "the ol' stress-o-meter," so eager job hunters can determine whether they really want to get their foot in the door. Whether one hopes to be an actor, a psychologist, a real estate broker or even a headhunter, this lengthy guide may prove helpful to clear confusion about many glamorized careers. Readers can aim high, aim correctly and avoid the career that just will not fit, because you don't want to pursue headhunting only to find, as Rosen quips, that there are no blow darts involved.

For a slightly more serious and comprehensive career guide, look for Michael Gregory's The Career Chronicles, which offers a candid view of what it's really like to work in fields from engineering to health care. More than 750 professionals confess the best, worst and most surprising parts of their jobs, giving graduates an insider's view before they start their own on-the-job training.

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