IOP Fellows Charted Twisting Career Paths out of Harvard
When Artur G. Davis ’90 graduated from Harvard as a government concentrator, he says he never imagined that 13 years later he would be an Alabama congressman.
“I never really expected to be a politician,” Davis says. “When I was [at Harvard], I wanted to be a journalist.”
Yet in his junior year, he realized that, without having worked on any of the campus papers, it was unlikely that he could pursue a career in journalism.
“I finally did what all the other people who are undecided in Harvard elected to do,” Davis says, “and that’s go to law school.”
Of the seven fellows at the Institute of Politics this semester, three graduated from one of the schools at Harvard University: Davis, Farai N. Chideya ’90, and Steven P. Schrage, who graduated from Harvard Business School in 2004.
The at-times unpredictable career trajectories of these individuals—from Harvard students to Harvard IOP fellows—reveal a common theme: being flexible and embracing unexpected opportunities can open many doors.
Davis first became interested in politics in elementary school, when he moved on from comic book super heroes to historical figures.
“When I was first interested in history, I saw historical figures as these kinds of heroic individuals who had done in real life the things people did in Greek mythology and comic books,” he says with a smile. “I was always fascinated by the fact that the people who matter...faced a lot of setbacks and were people who had to evolve and become the personalities and personas that we attach to them now.”
Yet while Davis studied government and history at the College, he was uncertain about his future career path.
“The Harvard tradition is if you don’t quite know what you want to do senior year, you go to law school to keep your options open,” he said.
Davis saw a law degree as very applicable to a range of disciplines. He notes that many of his friends ultimately practiced law even after pursuing medical or business degrees.
Chideya, a professional journalist and author, says that she agrees it is not unusual or problematic to go through several careers in a lifetime.
“It’s not a bad idea to do something then jump into something else,” she said. “I have many friends who have law degrees who don’t practice—some are in tech, some in journalism, some in marketing.”
Chideya says she knew she wanted to be a fiction writer, but she was less certain about journalism.