How to pack your career into a suitcase

Ever since we were first looking into moving to Brunei, I have been keeping an eye out for bloggers who are here, and with whom I might have something in common.  So when I received a comment a few months ago from Jo saying that she was coming here, and since we were both writers we should meet up, my response was (of course) “Heck yeah” (although I probably didn’t use those exact words.

It took a while for logistics to work in our favour (lack of internet, lack of phones, busyness at different times), but about a month ago, we managed to meet up.  She was the first person I’ve met from the blog, so I was a tiny bit nervous, but within a couple of minutes, all nerves had disappeared.  She was friendly, helpful, and great to talk to.

Not only that, I found out that she used to work in career development for trailing spouses/accompanying partners/whatever you want to call them (hereafter referred to as trailing spouses for simplicity).  Given that I’ve just trained as a career counsellor, and am currently a trailing spouse, this was very exciting for me.  And it turns out my timing was perfect.  The fourth edition of her book A Career in Your Suitcase  (by Jo Parfitt and Colleen Reichrath-Smith) was just printed, and she gave me a copy to review on the blog.  (Which, if you hadn’t worked it out already is what I’m doing today.)

Career in your suitcase

So over the last few weeks I’ve been reading away, and working through the exercises.  And having reached the end, I can say that this is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to find a career that works for them.  The focus is clearly on trailing spouses, but the advice and exercises would apply to a far wider audience.

The book is a collection of personal stories, practical advice, exercises, and food for thought, all focused on how trailing spouses can create a career that they can take with them wherever their expatriation takes them.  And more importantly on how they can create a career that suits their needs, ignites their passions and lines up with their values.

It was this focus on passion and values that really drew me into the book.  This has been a key focus of my personal career journey, and something that I think is often overlooked, even though when you read about it, it seems so damn logical.

The book leads readers through a journey of discovery, and is supported by a number of different exercises and assessments to help with thinking.  From my experience, these are absolutely critical.  It’s quite one thing to say “Figure out a career that interests and inspires you”, and quite another thing to actually make that happen.  The supporting exercises in A Career in Your Suitcase are a great way of transforming that basic instruction into something that you can actually act on.

The variety of assessment and exercises is great, but there is definitely a lot!  So my recommendation to any client working with this book (and the approach I took) is to select the exercises that really resonate with you, and put your energy into those, rather than worrying about doing everything.

Given my experience with career change and career development, a lot of the exercises and thinking weren’t completely new to me.  But there were still several parts that clicked with me and interested me enough to pull out the notebook.  One part in particular was the exercise that asked you to write a story about your career thus far and look for connections and themes. This is one of my favourite exercises to use with people, and lines up so well with my thoughts on what career means that I was really glad to see it included.

Overall, I thought the book was a great guide.  I worked through it quite quickly, but I think it would be really worthwhile to take time working through the steps.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be picking it up again in the coming months.  For now I’m pretty happy with a suitcase that is so filled with yoga that there’s not really room for a career in there.  But I will definitely be turning to this book when I get to the stage of working out what the career in my suitcase is going to look like.

And a tip for anyone interested: If you buy A Career in Your Suitcase online 12-16 May on Kindle, it’s absolutely FREE!  Check it out!

3 thoughts on “How to pack your career into a suitcase

  1. Anja Broberg Olsen says:

    Dear Jenn, my husband just accepted a job as a tecnical superintendent in kuala belait and we will be moving out there in the beginning of august. Would you be interested in meeting up over a cup of coffee and share some tips?


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