Tag Archives: transferrable skills

The Wisdom of the Humanities: Meaningful Lives and Successful Careers

What values and skills do we carry with us out of classroom into the world, and how can we use them to navigate the choices we face in our personal and public lives?  Wisdom of the Humanities is an annual conversation that offers practical and personal advice on developing your interests and skills in the humanities to achieve success, both within and beyond the workplace.  Sponsored by the Humanities Initiative and the Center for the Study of Transformative Lives, the first Wisdom event was held in  March 2012  and is available for viewing here.  It featured five accomplished women and men of different ages, describing the paths they took after college to build successful careers in a range of professional fields: publishing, management consulting, filmmaking, banking, and public service.

This year, we’ll have an informal conversation, hosted by the Wasserman Center for Career Development, about the experience of Strauss Zelnick, President and Founder of Zelnick Media, in building a meaningful life.  Students will learn first-hand about how Zelnick defines success, and the goals and skills by which he strives to achieve it.  As an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, Strauss majored in English and Psychology, and went on to learn management and law degrees at Harvard University.  Before founding Zelnick Media, Zelnick was CEO and President of three major  entertainment companies, including  BMG Entertainment, Crystal Dynamics, and 20th Century Fox.  He is the author of Success: A Concise Guide to Having the Life You Want (2011):

“When I talk to people about their careers, I often pose the question: “What factor is most highly correlated with success?” The answers I generally hear include: intelligence, education, competence, ambition, perseverance, talent, passion and luck…In my case, I’m often asked how my own professional success came about…Over the years, as my career and interests have evolved, I’ve taken the time to change my goals accordingly, as well as to include personal ones. Knowing what I want and focusing on it has helped me largely to achieve it…The most important thing you can do to achieve the success you desire is to discover your ambition, narrow its scope with as great a degree of specificity as possible, emblazon it on your consciousness and revisit it daily.”


Please join us on Wednesday, April 3, at 5:30 at the Wasserman Center for Career Development.  To RSVP, click here.

We’ll be updating and live-tweeting about the event, so please follow us @NYUHumanities!

Thomas Augst
Associate Director, The Humanities Initiative at New York University
Associate Professor of English


Philip Kunhardt
Director, Center for the Study of Transformative Lives
Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Humanities at New York University


Seniority Rules: What do you do with a B.A. in Communications?

Barbara Leung, Steinhardt 2012

Barbara is a senior at Steinhardt, studying communications and French. She currently works with the 1831 Fund commitee, Wasserman Center’s Peers in Careers, and LiveWellNYU programs at the university. 


As you make your way to declare your field of study or step up to the stage to receive your diploma, you’ll be quick to realize that not every major or concentration (for you Gallatin folk) translates so easily into a mapped-out career path. In fact, most college majors have little bearing on what it is you’ll be doing in the coming years.

That said, I’ve been asked by countless friends what it is I can do with a communications degree; some of my friends have even posed the question, “so, do you simply learn how to talk to one another?” The answers to both questions are pretty simple: 1) anything you want, and 2) that and so much more. With a program of study that places emphasis on critical analysis, theories of media use and consumption, and interrogation of interpersonal communication, you pretty much set yourself up for gaining a pretty good understanding of how people are functioning today.

Coming back to career prospects, there is the slant, especially here, that students will be drawn to the fields of public relations, marketing, or advertising, but in truth, the degree is pretty much of your own making. It just so happens that with the aforementioned career paths, they are a more direct application of the program’s field of study, which in turn, make these paths seem that much more accessible. College majors are merely a backbone, and understanding humans in this day and age is a pretty good foundation to have, if you ask me; it can most certainly be a large part of your job function, or simply mediate the day-to-day office politics.

So what about me? I’ve chosen the much more direct route of marketing and public relations, since they are fields that I particularly enjoy. But being able to explicate the reasons behind why people are more apt to respond in certain ways is not only enlightening for colleagues who struggle with A/B testing, but also pretty self-fulfilling for me, knowing that there is so much more than a “mysterious force” governing our reactions.