Influencing Young Minds

is never goodI really like teaching Duke undergraduates. They are an ambitious and intelligent group. But sometimes their ambition and intelligence get in the way of creative thinking, especially in regards to careers. They all want to remain high achievers, so they know they must either become doctors, lawyers, investment bankers or business consultants. Not infrequently I find myself talking to undergraduates about careers, urging them to do something different for a couple years and learn more about the world, before settling on one of these well honed paths.

I was reminded of these conversations recently when I read “How About Never–Is Never Good for You?,” by Bob Mankov, cartoon editor at the New Yorker. He relayed his experience visiting high schools in grade schools, and talking about his career as a cartoonist:

“Some years ago, at my daughter’s high school, I gave a Career Day talk about my thirty-five-year “career” in cartooning. I do these talks in the hope that I can prevent one young person, especially if they are Jewish, from becoming a doctor, lawyer, dentist, or accountant.”

I highly recommend his book, if you’re up for a good laugh. It is loaded with cartoons too!

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