1 | 2 |
3 | 4 |
6 | 7
Being a guide during difficult economic times
has been a challenge for Soboroff. Many students are preoccupied
with their future job prospects, and that becomes a frequent topic
of discussion. "Students are surrounded by people who can't
get jobs, and misery loves company," he says. "I tell
them that I wouldn't worry about the ups and downs of the economy,
and I reinforce their skills and determination." Then it is
up to the students to use their skills and resolve to land a job
— but is that enough in these economic times to land an outstanding
job? "The point I make to students is that just because the
majority don't get jobs doesn't mean they can't," says Soboroff.
"Those who are successful put their excuses aside and move
ahead, whatever their adversity."
Three decades ago, the question of how to get that first great
job was much on the mind of Abraham Lowenthal, another senior fellow
whose career has offered valuable lessons to his students. After
earning a Ph.D. in government from Harvard in 1971, Lowenthal expected
to become an assistant professor, only to find that an opening for
him at a university wasn't particularly attractive. "Friends
told me that I must get on the academic ladder, that I shouldn't
postpone it," he recalls. Lowenthal then learned an important
lesson from "a very wise man," David Bell, then the vice
president of the Ford Foundation. "Don't try to plan an entire
career right now, but do something you are passionate about and
do it well," Lowenthal recalls being told. "Ask yourself
what is the job you would be most excited to do for the next five
years ... and at the end of five years you will be able to decide
on another position to seek. And then you can repeat that."
That advice led Lowenthal on a path that took him from the Council
on Foreign Relations to a professorship in international relations
at USC and the founding of the Pacific Council on International
Policy, an independent think tank based in Los Angeles.
It's what Lowenthal would call "focus." When he first
met one of his two policy school students, Paula Castro M.A. '03,
a Ph.D. candidate in urban planning, he told her about his own career.
"In the middle," recalls Castro, "he paused and began
talking about the importance of narrowing one's goals to make them
achievable instead of trying to solve the world's problems."
It's remarkable, says Castro of Lowenthal, "how much he sees
his work experience related to his life as a student. He has been
completely able to get a synergy from them."