You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education
I have a liberal arts degree, a B.A. in English, which I followed with an M.A. in English and, two years later, a secondary teaching certificate. I love the written word, I love teaching it, and I love studying it, so this career path was perfect for me. But, as George Anders so expertly explains in You Can Do Anything , a liberal arts education doesn’t have to lead to teaching. There are literally hundreds of other avenues, all of which offer the potential of success and job satisfaction.
Split into four sections—Your Strengths, Your Opportunities, Your Allies, Your Tool Kit—Anders’s book reads like a cross between a self-help manual and a job-hunting guide. The first half of the book focuses on understanding who you are and what you want to do. From little-known Josh Sucher, an ethnographer and field researcher for Etsy, to household-name Mark Zuckerberg, Anders offers examples of people who didn’t fit the mold based on their college majors but, thanks to ingenuity and creativity, found a way to make a living doing what they love and being who they are.
The second part is a big part of Anders’s book. He attests the happiest people are those working jobs that fit their intellectual as well as characteristic strengths. He gives a litany of examples of people who parlayed their interest in research or art history or music into careers that are off the beaten path. In some cases, into careers that didn’t exist when the person in question started college.
Anders’s voice is enthusiastic and encouraging, and in the second half of the book he affirms the existence of many more just like him, employers, looking for candidates with empathy, creativity, curiosity, and ingenuity. As the Editor-at-Large of LinkedIn, Anders knows a great deal about the job market, making You Can Do Anything the kind of book you almost feel guilty to be reading, as though someone has let you in on a secret. Anders affirms that we follow our passions in college, as we pursue degrees, but “work is how you establish your identity.” This book is one way to make sure your identity is built around work you want to do, the same way you studied something you loved in college. Because, if we all have to work, we might as well be doing the things we love.