My new book: To University and Beyond: Launch Your Career in High Gear

Dear Friends,

I’m happy to share that Wiley is publishing a book I started writing while in college, To University and Beyond: Launch Your Career in High Gear. We believe this is an essential resource for all students in college and graduate school.

It would mean a lot to me if you would share this on your social media pages. Given the COVID restrictions, we can’t do the traditional book tours, and your help getting the word out is MUCH appreciated!!

My coauthor, Mandee Heller Adler, is CEO of one of the largest college counseling companies in the US, International College Counselors. If you buy 5 books, you’ll get a free 30-minute expert consultation on college or graduate school admissions from her company. Just fill out the form here.

People seem to like it:

“This book delivers a roadmap for students looking to maximize their investment in higher education, offering the tools necessary to stand out among the crowds of eager, young professionals.”

– Karim Faris, General Partner, GV (Formerly Google Ventures)

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“After reading this book, students will know not only what it means to be in the driver’s seat of their education and professional careers, but also what it looks like to play an active role in their own success.”

– Congressman Peter Deutsch, Member of the US House of Representatives (1993-2005)

“The University and Beyond is the book that I wish I’d had as I was entering college and then embarking upon my own career. While there are elements of inspiration in it, the book stands out for its practical, actionable advice. In an increasingly competitive world, The University and Beyond will show you how to stand out as you embark upon your career, and it does so in a practical, actionable way. How I wish every newly minted college graduate I ever hired would have read The University and Beyond and done what Mandee and David recommend!  This is by far the most practical guide to help you find early career success.”

– Patrick Mullane, Executive Director, Harvard Business School Onlin

I started writing this at age 20, and have been expanding it over the years, all the way until we finalized the manuscript a few weeks ago.

When I was a junior at Yale, I realized that I was surrounded by students who had advantages I didn’t. They were walking right through doors I didn’t even know existed.

All my classmates seemed to have attended elite boarding schools, and have parents who worked on Wall Street. Meanwhile, my mother was a choreographer, and my father left school in Paris at age 13 to apprentice in a leather goods factory. I had friends getting internships at Goldman Sachs freshman year; I thought Goldman Sachs sold ladies’ handbags.

I had aspirations to have children myself, and I started taking notes on what I was learning about how to “work the system”. As I advanced, I took more notes, planning to eventually publish a book, but waiting for the right time and coauthor. I finally realized that I had known the right coauthor all along: Mandee Heller Adler, a friend who overlapped with me at Harvard Business School, and CEO of International College Counselors, one of the largest college counseling businesses in the US.

As I’ve learned more since Harvard, I realized what skills really matter for the next generation. Seth Masters, former Chief Investment Officer of AB (a $500 billion investment management firm), observes that young people have to be ready for an environment where functional skills depreciate rapidly; where the information economy will be dominant; and where few people will spend a career in the same job category…let alone the same firm.

You need the skills that you can learn in class: how to absorb information; how to ask questions; how to write well; how to be a good team member; foreign languages; programming languages. But you also need skills you will really learn only in a work setting, even if that work setting is a group of students running a club. For example, how to pitch yourself; how to pitch a product; how to build a team; how to run a team.

We certainly think you should take your classes seriously and get good grades. But for most people, the exact material you study in school is far less important than learning how to learn, given how fast skills get out of date.

When I was a junior in college, I suddenly realized there was a whole world of institutions who wanted to give me money or give me a free education, just because I was a young person. Sign me up for free stuff!

I literally laced up my sneakers and spent 3 hours jogging to every single academic department at Yale, copying down information from the posters on each department’s bulletin boards. As a direct result, that year:

  • I entered a writing contest and won a cash prize.
  • I won an award from the Yale English department.
  • I won a scholarship to spend a week at Mount Holyoke College studying German Studies and Europe.
  • I won a scholarship to study political philosophy for a week in the Czech Republic.
  • I won a scholarship to spend a long weekend at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) studying national security issues.

It’s not that I was such an amazing candidate. It’s just that I applied, and most of my peers weren’t aware of these opportunities or didn’t take the time.

We’ll save you the jog. We have listed in this book all of the most selective generalist programs we have found, and also how to find the niche programs relevant to your particular major and situation. These are almost entirely programs which are highly subsidized and competitive to enter. Taking summer classes is great, but you may get even more value from some of the programs we list.

The opportunities we list not only expose you to new disciplines and parts of the world, but they also look amazing on resumes and graduate school applications! We also list programs focused on young professionals, as opposed to current students. We think it’s helpful to have on your radar programs that are relevant for your future self, not just your current self.

One of the reasons people pay so much to attend university is the breadth of the alumni base. But over time I realized that you can meet great people regardless of where you went to school … if you put yourself in other, equally challenging environments. The programs we list are not graduate schools, but they are the functional equivalent of the Ivy League. And what’s more, they are often easier to get into because fewer people know about them.

When we were near the finish line of writing this book, suddenly the COVID-19 pandemic hit globally. We realized that this disruptive event was going to make our book even more timely, as people rethought the value of their education. For hundreds of years, most people thought that it was mandatory to live in close proximity with other young adults to get an education. Now people realize that’s not necessarily the case.

I’ll share another reason I wrote this book: Just like your parents, I have a lot of advice I’d like my kids to follow. And you, like most young people, sometimes don’t want to follow your parents’ counsel. But one trick I’ve learned in raising four kids: if good advice comes from anywhere OTHER than my wife and me, my kids are far more likely to pay attention. So, I’m going to give this book to my kids. Because it looks official with a pretty cover, they’re far more likely to heed it.

Your early career years are like the initial financing round for a start-up company. If you don’t hit your key milestones during the critical age 18-23 time period, the next stages get increasingly more difficult.

In Dr. Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto, his core theme is:

  • Checklists improve performance, even saving lives, but…
  • Most people resist using checklists.

I agree with both of these points. Our goal here is to create a set of checklists for your life in school, as well as in your early career.

I’ve attached below a webinar and slide deck summary of the book.



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