Careers by Design: The Interviews

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Gordon Career Center benefactor Andrew Brandon-Gordon ’86, Participating Managing Director, Goldman Sachs & Co. “When I left Wesleyan I felt like I was prepared to do really anything. I felt that the education really was a means to figure out how to problem solve on a pretty broad basis…I felt that I had the building blocks to confidently go into the workplace.”
We welcome Theodore M. Shaw '76, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights, University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. “In a sense it was very selfish of me to pursue this path. Because I think I probably would have gone crazy if I didn’t find a constructive way to engage in the work of racial justice and change for our country. I don’t think there’s anything really altruistic about it. And in some ways it was very was a hopeful choice."
We speak with writer, editor, and environmentalist Dominique Browning ’77, a former editor of House & Garden magazine and a founder of Moms Clean Air Force, a program of the Environmental Defense Fund. “The one thing I advise everybody to do is find blue sky. Never stay in a place where you are being told explicitly you have a limit to your future."
An Olympic special with Kathy Keeler, who was the stroke for the women's 8 boat that took gold in rowing at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. "[I had] in the back of my mind, I'll just do this until someone tells me I'm not good enough...just keep rolling with the punches."
We’re live in the studio with John Yang ’80, Peabody Award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and special correspondent for PBS NewsHour. “I always wanted to know what was really going on behind the scenes...I also loved to be the first person to tell people things, to rush in and say, you won’t believe what just happened. And when I discovered you can get paid for doing those two things, that really set me.”
We hear from Jennifer Tour Chayes '78, Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director of Microsoft Research New England and Microsoft Research New York. "It’s really important to always be talking about what you’re passionate about…I’m always looking for somebody whose [story] is deeply engaging."
In honor of the success of the film "Get Out" we had to repost our interview with Bradley Whitford ’81, film and television actor (The West Wing—Emmy Award, Billy Madison, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Cabin in the Woods, Trophy Wife, Saving Mr. Banks, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Happyish, Transparent). “I urge people to really examine what brings you joy creatively. That is not always going to be commercial success.”
A holiday special with Anya Fernald ‘98, sustainable food expert and CEO of artisanal food-and-agritourism company Belcampo. “We’re looking to set a precedent for how you can do the right thing and make money at it. And I’m hoping that the precedent that we set is going to inspire a lot of people…Come on world, let’s fund something that’s really real. Let’s invest in the fundamentals. Let’s invest in good agriculture."
In honor of Black History Month, an encore presentation of this interview with Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75, HON'15, President Emerita, Spelman College; author of "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race." “There was a line [in a Spelman brochure], that said, ‘This is your heritage and your calling.’ And I really felt like that sentence was speaking to me…there was that moment of recognition that this is it.”
We chat with Peter Olson '97, Director and Creative Technologist at IDEO, the global design and innovation firm. “I don’t think critical thinking can be [automated]. I think as machine learning and things like those become more sophisticated, the thing that’s going to be important to have really good positions in the labor market in the next 20 to 30 years is not going to be knowing a specific skill, but knowing how to learn new skills and knowing how to think analytically and critically about things. And also creatively."
A conversation with Rob King ’84, Senior Vice President, SportsCenter and News, ESPN. “I say this every chance I get, particular to rising juniors and seniors in college…It’s going to work out, you just don’t know how yet.”
We speak with Lael Brainard '83, a member of the United States Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. "I found the transition [to business] relatively seamless…Wesleyan does a good job not just of exposing students to disciplinary rigors…but also of helping them and encouraging them to become engaged with the real world.”
Hear from Majora Carter '88, President, The Majora Carter Group, an environmental consulting company; founder and former executive director, Sustainable South Bronx; MacArthur Fellow. “That was a really powerful thing that I still carry with me now…the act of creativity, whether it’s on a canvas or on a city street…you do need to be fearless when you do it, because no one is going to give you that permission, you have to take it.”
For our Season One finale, a conversation with Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ’97, television writers, producers and show runners best known for their hit show How I Met Your Mother. “You want to find that spark of a story you have to tell, a story only you can tell, only in the way that you can tell it."
Advice from Ed Heffernan ’84, President and CEO, Alliance Data Systems Corporation. “Be very flexible, especially early on in your career. Don’t look for the perfect job, you’re not going to find it. But try to find something that’s obviously of interest in an industry that’s showing some promise for growth…that’s where the opportunities are.”
We hear from Thomas Kail ’99 about what it really takes to make Broadway hits like Hamilton and In the Heights. “I was working 18 hours a day, and I was working probably two or three weeks in a row…and I couldn’t have been happier…I was hungry, I was thirsty to learn...I tried to make the most of whatever opportunity was in front of me."
A conversation with Governor John Hickenlooper ’74 (D-Colo.), author of “The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics.” “I would have stayed a geologist my whole life if I hadn’t been laid off. In a funny way, sometimes when bad things happen to you they can turn out to be really good things.”
A Veteran's Day special with Mary Roach ’81, bestselling popular science writer and author of "Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War." “There’s aways going to be a need...for good writing. It’s just a matter of finding your way to a place where you can get some sort of income stream from it."
We hear from Pete Ganbarg ‘88, Executive Vice President and Head of A&R for Atlantic Records. “Don’t wait for somebody to validate your own opinion. If you believe that it’s the right idea, do it. And if they want you to stop, they’ll tell you to stop."
We hear from Michele Roberts ’77, Attorney and Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, the union for NBA players. “I’ve never, ever stopped believing that there are no limits...I’ve done well with that mantra professionally, and I’ve done well with that mantra personally…stop yourself from stopping you. Always say no limits."
A conversation with Ellen Prager '84, noted marine scientist, aquanaut, and author of a number of popular science books, including "Chasing Science at Sea." "Opportunities don't necessarily come to you. You have to ask for opportunities."
A conversation with Jed Hoyer ‘96, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. “I think every day, forming an argument to support your beliefs and trying to be creative and think of new ways to build a great team…those are things that you learn getting a really good liberal arts education...You’ve got to think critically and you’ve got to be curious [to compete].”
We speak with Laura Walker ’79, President and CEO, WNYC, the nation’s largest public radio station. “For me a lot of the fun of it, and the challenge of it, and the kind of stuff I love to do, is the mix of the creative and the business… I think that actually started at Wesleyan… There’s something about seeing connections and drawing them and reveling in them…and not being scared by the ambiguity, but being challenged by it.”
Hear from Joshua Boger ’73, Founder and Board Director, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Executive Chairman, Alkeus Pharmaceuticals. “That’s, by the way, the career advice I would give everybody. That’s the question you need to ask yourself. Are you happy?”
A conversation with David Weild ’78, stock market expert, former Vice Chair of NASDAQ, CEO of IssuWorks, “father” of the JOBS Act. “I started to see that there were major shifts in technology over time that were creating revolutions...investment banking and capital markets [were] getting money into the hands of entrepreneurs so that they could reenergize the economy and bring real quality of life changes to humanity.”
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Podcast Details

Jun 9th, 2016
Latest Episode
May 26th, 2017
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
36 minutes

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