Featured Alumni Profiles

Kenneth Jedding

You hold a Master's Degree in Education from NYU.  What about the coursework at Steinhardt resonated with you?  (Editors note: Ken also holds a Masters Degree from NYU's Silver School of Social Work.)

The curriculum was well-rounded, many of the professors were creative, and this led me to think in new ways.

How did you become interested in Education?

Education's communication. I'm interested in how to get through to people and ultimately, how people can improve their lives.

You recently published Higher Education: On Life, Landing a Job, and Everything Else They Didn't Teach You in College.  Tell us about your book.  What was your inspiration?

The transition from school to the-life-after is so hard, a time of anxiety and utter paralysis. Well, actually, May's a party. June, more difficult. And summer into fall? AAHHHH!

The most popular book for graduates is Dr. Seuss' Oh! The Places You'll Go! That's sad. No one knows how to give useful advice. Real self-helps are rare.

I decided to write transformational life guides for new graduates. I self-published the first one eight years ago. The new one, published by Rodale, is Higher Education.

In Higher Education, you describe the transition from college to the "real world" as a difficult one.  What are some of the challenges associated with this transition?

There are so many: thinking you can't do anything if you don't know exactly what you want to do. Feeling I majored in the wrong thing. The frustration of waiting for replies to your job applications. The difficulty of getting along with your parent(s). Dealing with their sometimes-mistaken ideas about what career you should pursue. Enough said. 

What is most important for young people to know as they go through this phase in their lives?

You can empower yourself. The first wish is usually that life unfold logically, I'll get hired and then I'll feel better. But what if you don't get hired right away? Most people don't. There are ways to feel better and stronger during the transition, and to prepare yourself for your opportunities when they arrive.

You are also the author of Real Life Notes.  What is the best part about being an author?

Letters from readers, which affirm that the books are the life rafts they're intended to be. I post some, anonymously but with permission, some on my website.

Explain the importance of mentoring for new college graduates.  What advice can you offer students or young adults looking for a mentor? 

Many people are shy after college. I was. I'd have preferred an employer to just look at my resume and say Okay, you're hired, rather than thinking about mentors. But mentors are actually a key to ending one's despair. He or she won't find you a job. Not usually. But in getting to know a mentor, you'll glean more of a game plan. And by propelling yourself into that relationship, you'll refine your social skills - and those count so much more than a resume. I write about how to find and keep mentors in the book.

What suggestions would you give to professionals who are interested in serving as a mentor?

Meet your mentee where s/he is, rather than trying to impose your own ideas or your vision for what you feel s/he should be.

What is the easiest way for people to remove the barriers in their life so that they can pursue their true passion?

In the book, there's a long chapter about finding your passion.  Some people know what their passion is but many don't, or they have some idea but they're not sure. I lead readers through the detective work. But keep in mind that finding your passion is an ongoing life-long search. You hone in on your passion while you're in the real world. It all happens at the same time.

I think it's the way things work. For example, less than perfect relationships lead to better ones if you learn the lessons they offer. In my life, if it weren't for a girlfriend (or two) who drove me crazy in my twenties, and with whom the beakups, however painful, taught me about relationships, I never would have recognized and married my wife years later.

Getting started in a career is a similar process. Less than perfect jobs lead to better ones - and even to seemingly unrelated fields. In my twenties my attitude was I'll count to three and then everything will be perfect, as if I were saying cheese for a photo. But life after college is definitely a movie, not a photo. It unfolds over time. You can't see the whole picture in advance and you won't have all the answers before you have to do something. The answers come when they're ready, so long as you're doing your part - strange as that sounds. That's where trust comes in.

Each year, Steinhardt students graduate and begin to forge new careers.  What advice can you give for these young professionals as they make their way in the "real world?"

Put yourself out there. Make yourself part of the world and world will return the favor. 

All my best to the new grads. Congratulations!

To learn more about Ken Jedding and Higher Education, visit his website at http://www.higheredgradbook.com/.