Book Review: Escaping Corporate America (Pamela Skillings)

Wow, does this book have a title that’s timely, or what? Given some of the recent turbulence taking place in the corporate world, and the sense that the traditional employment scene isn’t as stable or “safe” as it used to be, quite a few people we encounter are starting to look around for another option — and a way to make a living that’s much more aligned with their passions, values, and interests.

This book is essentially a manifesto on this topic, packed with compelling reasons for why people should consider moving beyond a typical 8-to-5 job role and should look, instead, to self-employment or alternative employment scenarios. Riddled with interesting facts, packed with motivational quotes, and chock-full of “escapee” case studies involving people who have broken away from the rat race, this book is definitely one of the more impressive books I’ve come across in the career-change genre. It not only does a great job of cataloging some of the limitations of traditional employment today, but also provides numerous fresh insights for how to go about the process of facing your fears — and having the courage to do something truly original with your life and your career.

At the same time, two minor criticisms I have of the book are that it becomes a little bit redundant near the end (kind of like a movie that goes on 20 minutes too long) and also, in my opinion, seems overly optimistic about the ability of the average person to pursue a non-traditional job avenue. While there’s no question that many people crave the opportunity to combine their personal passions with their professional endeavors, not everybody is willing (or able) to make this tradeoff at the expense of a steady paycheck or access to reliable health care benefits. Corporate America still does have some advantages over the adventures of working in a freelance or entrepreneurial capacity, after all, and unless this upcoming election leads to shockingly profound changes in the marketplace, the vast majority of people will continue to work for traditional companies, not for themselves. As a result, they’ll have to learn to navigate the challenges of office politics, inept managers, and all of the other irritants that will continue to arise when large groups of people work elbow-to-elbow on a daily basis. Unfortunate, yes, but let’s not fall into the trap of viewing traditional corporate jobs as cruel and unusual punishment. After all, most “corporate” jobs in America are still light years more tolerable and rewarding than the options available in the vast majority of places around the world!

So all in all, Escaping Corporate America is an intriguing body of work, and despite the few minor wrinkles above it offers a robust mix of anecdotes, information, and inspiration to get people to “think big” and go after that dream job or career they’ve been coveting. So if you’re looking for a little nudge to push you out of your employment comfort zone, this book might be just the ticket!

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