Ben Wildavsky

Dec 14, 2023

How to Build A Career

A Discussion with Ben Wildavsky

New Books Network 2023

On this episode of the Academic Life, we dive into the book The Career Arts: Making the Most of College, Credentials, and Connections (Princeton UP, 2023) by Ben Wildavsky, which makes a persuasive case for building career success through broad education, targeted skills, and social capital. People today expect to hold many jobs over the course of their lives, which is why they need a range of essential skills. The Career Arts provides a corrective to the misleading notion that there is a direct trade-off between going to college and acquiring practical job skills. Drawing on evidence-based research, illuminating case studies, and in-depth interviews, Wildavsky shares vital lessons of what he calls the career arts, which include cultivating a mix of broad and targeted skills, taking advantage of employer-funded education benefits, and preparing for the world as it is, not as you wish it could be. He explains why college remains the gold standard of credentials, and presents the most promising supplements and alternatives to college that can help learners combine general and job-specific skills. He shows how building social capital is also critical to success, particularly for disadvantaged students. A guidebook for students, parents, counselors, and educators, The Career Arts reveals why college education and job preparation are not either-or propositions and identifies the blend of education and networking needed to support real-world career aspirations.

Our guest is: Ben Wildavsky, who is a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia's School of Education and Human Development. He is the award-winning author of The Great Brain Race and coeditor of Reinventing Higher Education, and Measuring Success. He is the host and co-producer of the Higher Ed Spotlight podcast.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who is the host and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in history, which she uses to explore what stories we tell and what happens to those we never tell.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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