You Can Do Anything

The Surprising Power of a "Useless" Liberal Arts Education


By George Anders

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In a tech-dominated world, the most needed degrees are the most surprising: the liberal arts.

Did you take the right classes in college? Will your major help you get the right job offers? For more than a decade, the national spotlight has focused on science and engineering as the only reliable choice for finding a successful post-grad career. Our destinies have been reduced to a caricature: learn to write computer code or end up behind a counter, pouring coffee. Quietly, though, a different path to success has been taking shape.

In You Can Do Anything, George Anders explains the remarkable power of a liberal arts education – and the ways it can open the door to thousands of cutting-edge jobs every week.

The key insight: curiosity, creativity, and empathy aren’t unruly traits that must be reined in. You can be yourself, as an English major, and thrive in sales. You can segue from anthropology into the booming new field of user research; from classics into management consulting, and from philosophy into high-stakes investing. At any stage of your career, you can bring a humanist’s grace to our rapidly evolving high-tech future. And if you know how to attack the job market, your opportunities will be vast.

In this book, you will learn why resume-writing is fading in importance and why “telling your story” is taking its place. You will learn how to create jobs that don’t exist yet, and to translate your campus achievements into a new style of expression that will make employers’ eyes light up. You will discover why people who start in eccentric first jobs – and then make their own luck – so often race ahead of peers whose post-college hunt focuses only on security and starting pay. You will be ready for anything.


Part One

Your Strengths


The Explorers

When Josh Sucher graduated from Bard College in 2007, he had no idea how to find a job. He had spent four years—and large amounts of his parents' money—studying anthropology. He knew how to conduct ethnographic studies as an insider or outsider; he could tell you the most amazing things about witchcraft in different societies. His senior thesis had analyzed the "constructivist underpinnings" of a one-hundred-dollar laptop computer, which he described as "a machine with political implications hard-wired into it." Within the context of Bard's liberal arts campus, Sucher had done everything right. Judged by the harsher standards of America's leading employers, he was as useless as an orchid in a snowstorm.

Similar frustrations gripped many of his classmates. Bard's free-spirited culture didn't seem to connect with the lucrative careers college graduates were supposed to find. Sucher's father treated this predicament as a comic disaster, remarking at one point: "Why don't you go down to the anthropology factory? I hear they're hiring." Even Bard's graduation speakers couldn't make the gloom go away. They offered the usual salutes to the life of the mind—and then winced at the perilous future each graduate faced. Bard president Leon Botstein bemoaned the extent to which higher education nationwide was souring on the liberal arts. Commencement speaker Michael Bloomberg warned that finding a job "can be scary," adding: "Some of you may take a little longer to find a job."

All the same, Josh Sucher has prevailed—and he has done so without ever needing to stifle his personality, his interests, or his take on life.

Sucher's story opens this book because it showcases a fundamental truth that's in danger of being lost amid our national anxiety about the value of a college education. Curiosity, creativity, and empathy aren't unruly traits that must be reined in to ensure success. Just the opposite. The human touch has never been more essential in the workplace than it is today. You don't have to mask your true identity to get paid for your strengths. You don't need to apologize for the supposedly impractical classes you took in college or the so-called soft skills you have acquired. The job market is quietly creating thousands of openings a week for people who can bring a humanist's grace to our rapidly evolving high-tech future.

Imagine a spreadsheet with human strengths capping all the columns across the top of the sheet… and technical disciplines supporting all the rows at the side. Each intersection defines a new type of job. Curiosity + data science = market research. Empathy + gene sequencing = genetic counseling. Creativity + information networks = social-media manager. It's a rich, wonderful grid. In the course of this book, we will explore all sorts of ways your liberal arts education and society's needs can fit together.

The central insight is this: The more we automate the routine stuff, the more we create a constant low-level hum of digital connectivity, the more we get tangled up in the vastness and blind spots of big data, the more essential it is to bring human judgment into the junctions of our digital lives. It's easy to get mesmerized by the digital tools that surround us: Snapchat and Facebook for socializing; TripAdvisor and Airbnb for travel planning; camera-toting drones for who knows what. It's natural to lionize the software engineers who build these tools. But each technological breakthrough is just an empty framework without people to coax, confide, persuade, debate, teach, agree, rebel, and interact. Fundamentally, we're social animals. We compete; we make friends; we crave respect and we punish our enemies. We behave in ways that baffle engineers and make perfect sense to humanists. That's been true ever since someone in the Cave of Altamira twenty thousand years ago looked at a crude sketch of a bison and told her neighbor: "That's clever! You should draw some more."

The more our labs and engineers innovate, the more jobs we create for people who can make the human dimension work. Technology may be a job killer in warehouses or on the factory floor. There's no denying robots excel at predictable chores, carrying them out faster, cheaper, and more reliably than we can. Yet in so many other aspects of life, the machines (and even software-based artificial intelligence) are clumsy intruders. They don't know how to handle subtler situations, where feelings matter and the rules haven't been written. We do.

If childhood habits foreshadow adulthood destinies, the starting point for Josh Sucher can be found in a family photo of him as a toddler standing on a chair, screwdriver in hand. He is trying to take apart a wall socket. The little boy looks so earnest—and so confident—that you want him to succeed, even if your prudent self is about to scream: Get off that chair now! Keep that image in mind. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why adventurers like Sucher keep gliding into career opportunities that other people don't see. Part of his good fortune (and yours too!) can be traced to the merits of keeping a dash of youthful wonder in your life.

As Josh Sucher grew up, curiosity kept tugging him in unpredictable ways, including an ill-advised attempt to bicycle to school—as a seventh-grader—by zipping onto the expressway. When it came time to choose a college, he ignored the vocational pathways his more prudent classmates preferred. Instead, he picked Bard, a famously iconoclastic school a hundred and ten miles north of New York City. Its alumni include the founders of the rock band Steely Dan and dozens of well-known painters, artists, actors, and composers. Its writing faculty over the years has featured the likes of Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, Chinua Achebe, and Ralph Ellison. At Bard, there is no business school.

For Sucher, Bard became a nonstop source of enchantment. The first week of freshman year, he found himself in a cultural anthropology class where the instructor pulled out a nail clipper, snipped off a few scraps of her own keratin—and passed them around for student examination. Her point: What looks clean and nice on the tips of our fingers suddenly becomes disgusting when it's removed. Terms such as dirt and filth aren't absolutes at all; they are hugely dependent on context and culture. For an excited freshman at a seminar table, this was a thunderbolt of truth. The professor's message "completely reframed the way I view the universe," Sucher later told me.

After four years at Bard, Sucher knew how to create a short play from scratch in a week. He knew how to stage theater in the most improbable locations, ranging from campus mailrooms to abandoned barns. He had amassed a splendidly impractical collection of skills without any obvious way of turning them into a respectable job. Stalling for time, he decided to try law school. That turned out to be a dead end; law was his father's calling, not his.

To help pay bills during law school, Sucher set up Block Factory, a side business providing tech support for small companies using Mac computers. He became a man with a tool kit, advertising on Craigslist and getting paid for installing video projectors, Internet cables, and other gear. His "office" consisted of a $450-a-month rented desk in a co-working facility near Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal. His home: a bed in the attic of his grandmother's house. So be it. "I knew my way around a computer, and I liked taking things apart," Sucher later explained.

If you had met Sucher then, you might have dismissed him as an aimless soul. In reality, he was sharpening a vital skill that Bard had taught him: how to listen. His new clients—particularly a cluster of Manhattan art galleries—needed more than a better A/V connection. They wanted a friendly listener who could soothe their spirits and deliver tech with empathy. "Most of my customers were anxious," Sucher told me. "Something wasn't working and they'd start berating themselves. They'd say: 'You're going to think I'm an idiot. I feel like a failure.' There were a lot of talking-them-off-the-ledge moments. I'd say: 'It's not you; it's the technology. This thing is terribly designed.' I'd get things fixed and then we'd talk shop."

After a couple years, however, Sucher yearned for a different kind of job, one that let him address tech's failings in a broader way. "I started burning out," Sucher told me. "I was becoming dissatisfied by devising clever workarounds for minor IT problems over and over again." His new goal: teaming up with like-minded people to create user-friendly tech built properly from the outset.

In his free time, Sucher started hanging out with digital designers and usability experts. Without ever sending out a résumé, Sucher was networking his way toward his next job. He popped into a Manhattan party to celebrate the launch of a book about market research and user interviews—and found himself rubbing shoulders with noisy, spirited people who appreciated great design. Inspired by the encounter, he signed up for a program in Interaction Design at Manhattan's School of Visual Arts. At SVA, Sucher paired his long-standing empathy and curiosity with new skills relating to design, market research, and a smidgen of computer coding. "It was a magical moment for me," Sucher said. "I had found my tribe. At one point, there were tears in my eyes." It didn't take him long to realize that technology's latest zigs and zags actually made his college training more valuable. Fast-growing new companies needed generalists who knew a little bit about tech—and a lot about human nature.

Three different paths led Sucher to Etsy, a Brooklyn-based company running a billion-dollar online marketplace for artisans selling everything from greeting cards to jewelry. Several of his SVA friends and instructors worked there. At a conference, he had heard Etsy's chief executive, Chad Dickerson, share the company's story. And he took a liking to the way Etsy's marketplace supported small businesses trying to make it in the arts. When he learned the company had an opening, he applied.

Not only was Etsy hiring, it also radiated a fondness for people with eclectic backgrounds. Dickerson himself had been an English major at Duke. Many of Etsy's software engineers and data analysts had spent their college years in fields such as literary history, Japanese studies, and psychology. This was a company where liberal arts majors needn't hide their pasts. They could banter about Jenny Holzer's conceptual artwork and turn theory into praxis. To Sucher, Etsy sounded like home.

Today, Sucher conducts a digital-age version of ethnography and field research for Etsy. By using GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts, he connects with artistic creators and buyers around the world, finding out how they use Etsy and what would make it work better for them. He's the patient listener, drawing out details of the ways artists set up their studios or the reasons why they feel compelled to create. His curiosity and warmhearted manner help him gain insights into Etsy customers that administering standard questionnaires wouldn't reveal. "Each person is his or her own story," Sucher explained to me. "There are a million of them, and they never grow old."

Think of him as an anthropologist in action, mindful of buyers' preferences that can be as stark and hard to explain as the way we think about fingernails. Colleagues value his discoveries, which help guide new services and features. "I put myself in the shoes of our buyers and sellers," Sucher told me. "I'm constantly opening my mind to the way they experience technology." We can argue forever about the reasons why Sucher's unplanned journey worked out so well. What's clear is that the curiosity, creativity, and empathy you develop in college help you make your own luck. Rapid, disruptive change doesn't ruin your prospects; it can actually play to your advantage.

In 2006, economists David Autor, Lawrence Katz, and Melissa Kearney published a landmark study looking at the way technology was changing people's incomes, destinies, and ability to hold jobs. The scholars (based at MIT, Harvard, and the National Bureau of Economic Research, respectively) combed through a quarter century of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Labor Department, and other government agencies, decoding the secrets held in every American pay stub since 1980. What Autor, Katz, and Kearney uncovered has influenced public discussion of technology's allure and perils ever since.

While new technology is barely touching low-paid manual labor such as busing dishes, it is hammering millions of predictable, task-based jobs that traditionally provide tickets into the middle class. Factory workers have known this for decades, as machines keep displacing assembly lines full of human welders and fitters, but Autor, Katz, and Kearney demonstrated the degree to which tech's Grim Reaper has been targeting stores, offices, banks, and other bastions of white-collar work too. Payroll clerks keep being replaced by software. The same holds true for proofreaders, bank tellers, executive secretaries, and switchboard operators. McKinsey researchers estimate that 45 percent of workplace tasks in modern society are at risk of being automated. Or, as venture capitalist Marc Andreessen observed, "Software is eating the world."

When the U.S. economy careened into the troubles of 2008 to 2010, 8.8 million Americans were thrown out of work. Eventually the economy got better, but many of those jobs didn't come back. Autor, Katz, and Kearney had nailed it: technological progress was squeezing routine-centered jobs out of existence. Even MIT Technology Review—a magazine whose very name spoke to a fondness for cutting-edge engineering—raised a ruckus in 2013 with a cover story entitled "How Technology Is Destroying Jobs." In the piece, MIT management professor Andrew McAfee nervously ruminated on a future full of self-driving cars and warehouse robots. "When all these science-fiction technologies are deployed," he asked, "what will we need all the people for?"

As public anxiety grew, an idea took hold that the tech sector itself might provide the answer. If we could just train enough software engineers, the argument went, a new generation could find gainful work. Hundreds of coding academies sprang up in cities ranging from San Francisco to Detroit. During his presidency, Barack Obama repeatedly urged teenagers in all walks of life to load up with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses so they could become programming wizards too. Movies like The Social Network glamorized late-night coding binges. Even our language reshaped itself, like a plant twisting toward sunlight, with computing-related terms such as open source, backward-compatible, hackathon, and hackerspace writing themselves into the dictionary.

Here's the painful twist: The software sector makes no attempt to shield its own workers from automation; instead, it constantly squeezes out its own older jobs almost as fast as it creates new ones. Much of what programmers did by hand a few years ago has been turned into automated tool kits, libraries, or subroutines. Of the 10.1 million net new jobs the United States added from May 2012 to May 2016, only 5 percent, or 541,000, are in the computing sector. Being able to write business software, run a computer network, or create a smartphone app has turned out to be the answer for less than one-tenth of job hunters. For everyone else, success has been happening elsewhere.

What tech enthusiasts overlooked were the broader consequences of digital advances that kept rippling through the rest of the economy. Once or twice a century, a wave of innovation changes not just an industry, but an entire way of life. We saw this in the first half of the twentieth century, when the rise of the automobile industry inspired far more than a hiring spree at Henry Ford's factories. From the 1920s to the 1950s, millions of newly defined jobs sprang up across the country, brought into existence by what a motorized America now needed or desired. Towns everywhere reshaped themselves to make room for auto mechanics, road-construction crews, driving academies, car dealerships, car washes, motor-insurance agents, traffic-safety officers, parking-lot attendants, mapmakers, and personal-injury lawyers.

It's happening again.

Take a close look at job creation since May 2012, and you will see that the fastest-growing fields often turn out to be ones indirectly catching the warmth of the tech revolution. Thanks to the rapid rise of cheap online surveys and big-data analytics, for example, America is now graced with more than 550,000 market researchers and marketing specialists. That's a 30 percent leap from the level in 2012. It didn't take many software engineers to provide us with instant, low-cost polling services such as Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey, Clicktools, and FluidSurveys. The big impact lies in the ways these ubiquitous tools have been put to use. We poll ourselves constantly now. You probably clicked your way through at least a dozen such surveys in the past year, whether you wanted to or not. Companies need data on everything from airline service to your puppy's latest visit to the vet. In the process, market research has been transformed from an obscure specialty into a field more densely populated than the city of Cleveland.

Remember the figure of 541,000 jobs added in the computing sector from May 2012 through May 2016? Look at what happens if we tally job growth during the same period in the following thirteen areas, all of which are tech-influenced but hardly tech-centered: compliance officers, entertainment producers and directors, event planners, fund-raisers, genetic counselors, graphic designers, human-resources specialists, management analysts, market research analysts, marketing specialists, school administrators, technical writers, and training specialists. We're at 626,000 net new jobs, with many of these fields creating work at double or even quadruple the pace of the overall U.S. economy.

What's more, we're just getting started. Add in big categories such as general management, finance, legal work, sales, and teaching, and we're looking at a further 1.7 million net new jobs, or a grand total of more than 2.3 million over the past five years. To put this giant sum in context: it's more than triple the new-job contribution from the computing sector during that period. Or, if you prefer, it's equivalent to the entire population of Pittsburgh, Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Seattle combined.

Surprised? That's totally understandable. Most of these new jobs have tiptoed into the U.S. economy with no fanfare whatsoever. They don't fit into the conventional story lines of media coverage or the major political parties' slogan wars. We aren't talking about The Wolf of Wall Street or single parents working the night shift at minimum wage for soulless multinational corporations. This resurgence of meaningful work is happening in the forgotten middle. It involves an eclectic mix of high-skill but low-profile areas that just happen to be hungry for talent.

If you're looking for entry-level jobs straight out of college, chapter 4 highlights a multitude of opportunities where your bachelor's degree can be put to work right away. If you're taking the longer view, with a focus on turning your liberal arts background into a fast-track career, chapter 7 shows you how people with degrees in the humanities and social sciences have risen to the top in fields as diverse as finance, government, nonprofits, and the entrepreneurial economy.

In all these sectors, tech makes us nimbler and quicker-witted. By spending less time on routine chores, we become more productive, which makes us more desirable. Our opportunities expand. Society keeps creating more room for people who do what we do. Put Google's search engine at your fingertips, and your productivity soars in any field calling for instant access to fresh information (examples range from medical research to sports announcing). Embark on a fund-raising campaign, and software tools like the Raiser's Edge become booster packs for your brain. The list is endless. LinkedIn has become the professional equivalent of steroids for recruiters; LexisNexis does the same for lawyers; AutoCAD for industrial designers; Final Cut for filmmakers; Houzz for architects; and so on.

Think of Josh Sucher's situation. He couldn't have found work at Etsy by proffering the old-fashioned ethnographer's approach of traveling around the United States with a notepad and a microphone, collecting one or two user stories a day. Such a method would have been unbearably slow and expensive for Etsy to endure. With GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts, everything changes. Suddenly it becomes easy to carry out virtual visits to artists' studios anywhere in the world, without the burdens of traditional travel. Sucher can arrive at Etsy's Brooklyn headquarters at 9:30 a.m. and begin a digitized chat with an artists' collective in Toronto a few minutes later. Customers in Arizona become just as accessible. For that matter, the whole world is within reach. Colleagues at Etsy headquarters can watch his conversations and suggest additional questions to ask. Technology might be eradicating other jobs, but it is simultaneously creating new openings that couldn't have existed twenty years earlier.

Most of these opportunities call for a modicum of technical literacy, but nothing that can't be picked up in a few months of concentrated effort. (You don't need a computer science degree.) Average salaries range from $43,000 to $90,000 a year—the sort of pay that commands college graduates' attention. Most important, these jobs are in the heart of the U.S. economy. They arise in big sectors such as management, teaching, sales, and education, which together employ nearly half of the 140 million Americans at work. By contrast, computer-related fields employ less than 3 percent of the workforce. Starting pay for the best software engineers can be stunningly high, but that's true for athletes and pop stars too. For the vast majority of Americans who will win new jobs in the years to come, programming won't be the answer.

What do we call this exciting new category of jobs? Many center on an ability to read the room—and get different people on the same page. Let's dub this "the rapport sector." Other opportunities call for wise decisions amid the ambiguity and murky information that machines can't stand. Such settings make the most of our ability to pick up signals machines never see or balance priorities in ways equations can't describe. Now we're talking about "the ingenuity economy." We might even want additional labels acknowledging the value of old-fashioned communication retooled for a digital age. People have been storytellers since long before the days of Aesop or the Ramayana. Even if modern cultures have traded in parchment for Pinterest and Prezi, the demand for people who can inform, entertain, or inspire is endless.

What unifies all these jobs is something more fundamental: an explorer's spirit. America's most interesting jobs are going to be ones that haven't been done before. The opportunities are bigger; the bureaucracy smaller. Find (or invent!) one of those jobs, and you control your own destiny. Your best ideas will take hold faster; your mistakes will disappear from sight more quickly. Such opportunities exist not just at start-ups, but in thousands of big companies too. Old work practices are fading away. New opportunities are arising, and fresh perspectives are needed. Look at the way advertising, public relations, and marketing have been upended by social media to see how vast and rapid this transformation can be. Everyone from Walmart to Wally's Bait and Tackle now needs an influx of social-media talent in order to connect with a new generation of customers.

Be like Josh. Come at your career with a pioneering spirit, and you gain the confidence of steadily building up your strengths. Just as important, when unexpected change happens, you have the experience and the temperament to make the most of whatever comes next. As the philosophical writer Eric Hoffer once observed, "In times of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."

Job hunting has changed a lot since the 1970s and even since the 1990s. Predictable career paths are rarer; the opportunities to improvise are greater. Irving Trust and Sperry Rand don't come to campus anymore looking for raw talent that can be slotted into multiyear executive-training programs. In fact, those particular companies don't even exist today. They have disappeared in a wave of corporate mergers and restructurings. Everything changes faster now—and so be it. In the creative chaos of everyday life, resourceful people still reign supreme. To borrow a phrase from MIT's David Autor, when success centers upon "problem-solving, intuition and persuasion," it's the explorers' turn to win.

Of all the classes I took in college, the most valuable one had nothing to do with the career I eventually found: writing business books and crafting cover stories for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Instead, this course transported me to nineteenth-century Russia and the life's work of a brilliant, tormented soul. The subject: someone who spent seven years in Siberia's czarist prisons, who repeatedly skated on the edge of bankruptcy because of his gambling problems, and who, even so, managed to write two of the world's most renowned novels along with at least a dozen other books.

You've probably deduced that this was a Russian literature class focused entirely on Fyodor Dostoevsky. I signed up as a naive freshman at Stanford, having been blown away by Crime and Punishment in high school. Awed by my first taste of Dostoevsky, I wanted to see what else the man had written. Our professor did not disappoint. On the first day of class, the professor, William Mills Todd III, explained that we would spend the next ten weeks reading nearly everything of scale that Dostoevsky ever wrote. Not just The Brothers Karamazov (944 pages) and Crime and Punishment (another 560), but also Poor Folk, Notes from the Underground, House of the Dead, and The Possessed, as well as excerpts of other Russian works from the same period. All told, we would be assigned nearly three thousand pages of Dostoevsky's passionate (and sometimes chaotic) text. A six- to eight-page midterm paper would be a small part of our grade. The main event would be much tougher: an extended final paper that seized on some aspect of Dostoevsky's work and analyzed it across all of his fiction. I was stunned. How could I get everything read? How could I make sense of it all? I felt like a traveler in the opening scene of a survival movie, stuck in some remote forest after a bus crash, not sure what to do next. Was this what college was supposed to be?


  • Praise for You Can Do Anything

    "Utterly fascinating and massively important. George Anders peers into his signature crystal ball, and paints a portrait of the future of work that's as compelling as it is provocative."—Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals
  • "Anders' latest book is a must-read for liberal arts students and grads. Packed with relatable stories and role models, it not only inspires you with stories about what liberal arts grads have done with their educations, but also gives you a clear map to find your own path in the world."—Laszlo Bock, author of Work Rules!, former SVP of People Operations at Google, and CEO of Humu, Inc.
  • "Anders shows us precisely why majors like Philosophy, History, and Anthropology teach the skills employers can't outsource to robots and software... students should feel not only reassurance or permission but an actual obligation to go there, for their own sake, and for the sake of us all.'"—Julia Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult and former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University
  • "I could have used this book several times in my life. When I graduated from Northwestern with a degree in linguistics... and even today, when I'm the parent of high school junior intent on studying poetry and modern dance in college. You Can Do Anything will inspire a new generation to greater heights, while delivering a much-needed wake-up call to campus leaders and employers."—Daniel H. Pink, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
  • "The career stories of liberal arts graduates provide the best argument for the value of their education. George Anders, in his thoughtful new book You Can Do Anything, tells these stories in a compelling manner, weaving the threads of their education into the tapestry of their lives, demonstrating over and over why employers should seek out these unique thinkers. An interesting read and valuable for any liberal arts graduate or recruiter!"—Dr. Katharine Brooks, author of You Majored in What? and Executive Director of the Vanderbilt University Career Center
  • "As a parent about to send her second child off to college--this one has a theater major--George Anders' book was not just a good show topic, but a balm to my soul."—Krys Boyd, host of KERA's "Think"
  • "George Anders has provided a compelling and decisive answer to the recurring question, 'What is the value proposition of a liberal arts education?' Students should have this book in their backpack or on their iPads. So should their parents, teachers, and our policy-makers."—Frederick M. Lawrence, CEO of Phi Beta Kappa Society
  • "At the present moment... it is only liberal arts majors who have to wonder whether all of the articles and books promoting the marketability of their chosen discipline should make them more or less uneasy about the future. Two additions to this growing field have appeared just in time to try to sooth the post-graduation panic.. [including] You Can Do Anything.... [Anders] suppl[ies] useful talking points in support of the financial viability of studying the liberal arts."—Timothy Aubry, New York Times Book Review
  • "Useful guidance for newly minted job hunters"—Kirkus
  • "Give this to anyone who is questioning the value of a classical education in today's fast-paced world."—Booklist
  • "As another academic year begins... [You Can Do Anything is a] salutary reminder... that what is learned on campus should have its greatest value beyond the university."—Wall Street Journal
  • "You Can Do Anything is part how-to for humanities types.... Also tells stories about liberal arts students made good.... These are important words of wisdom by a skilled storyteller and a sharp observer of the human condition."—Adam Lashinsky, Fortune
  • "While the book is geared toward recent grads, even career switchers can benefit.... Above all, Anders shows that success is rarely a straight line."—Book Page
  • "Thoughtful and well-reasoned... George Anders demonstrates the extraordinary way a liberal arts education broadens the career opportunities of new graduates."—The Hill
  • "Anders outlines in detail fast-growing fields in which skills from the liberal arts are required."—Jeffrey J. Selingo, The Washington Post
  • "Will inspire new college students and their families... In a time of anxiety about student debt and the future of the workplace, Anders's stories of career success speak to visceral concerns."—New York Review of Books

On Sale
Jan 8, 2019
Page Count
352 pages
Back Bay Books

George Anders

About the Author

George Anders is a contributing writer at Forbes, exploring issues related to careers, education and innovation. He is the author of five books, including Merchants of Debt, Health Against Wealth, the New York Times bestseller Perfect Enough, and The Rare Find.

Earlier in his career, George served as a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company magazine and Bloomberg View. In 1997, he shared in a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He and his wife live in northern California and their two sons have started their own college adventures.

Learn more about this author