10 Questions with David Blustein
David L. Blustein is a Professor in the Department of Counseling, Developmental and Educational Psychology at Boston College. Blustein is the author of The Psychology of Working: A New Perspective for Career Development, Counseling, and Public Policy and a new book titled The Importance of Work in an Age of Uncertainty: The Eroding Experience of Work in America. He also has contributed numerous articles and book chapters – including a chapter in CERIC’s Career Theories and Models at Work: Ideas for Practice – on psychology of working theory, unemployment, career counselling, career development education, decent work, relationships and work, and other aspects of the role of work in people’s lives.
This article was also published in the Summer 2020 issue of the National Career Development Association’s Career Developments magazine.
In a sentence or two, describe why career development matters.
Career development matters because work is a vehicle to fulfill many of our dreams while also optimally meeting our needs for survival, power, relatedness, social contribution and self-determination.
Which book are you reading right now and why did you choose it?
I am reading Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor by Steven Greenhouse, which can inform my efforts to advocate for effective workers’ organizations.
What was your first-ever job and what did you learn from it?
When I was 16, I worked selling and stocking shoes at a department store in Queens. My mother also worked in this store, and had to stand on her feet for many hours a day even into her late 50s. I deepened my compassion for the struggles of work during this job, which has been a lifelong lesson.
What do you do to relax and how does it help you?
I relax by walking, exercising, spending time with my family, reading and listening to music.
What do you think will be the biggest lasting change of the pandemic on work?
I think that this crisis has brought the fault lines in our work lives into a vivid sense of clarity. As described in my recent book The Importance of Work in an Age of Uncertainty, the essence of work has changed, creating a sense of erosion in the workforce and within our inner lives. I hope that the biggest change is that our workers and public leaders will now insist on decent and dignified work for all.
What’s something you want to do in the next year that you’ve never done before?
I would like to develop an integrative intervention for unemployed adults. I am hoping to develop a workshop curriculum that can be readily used by career counsellors, vocational psychologists and employment specialists.
If you had one piece of advice for jobseekers navigating COVID-19, what would it be?
I would suggest that jobseekers develop support groups of others who can provide active assistance in the hard process of looking for work and critically needed social support.
Which talent or superpower would you like to have and how would you use it?
I wish that I could use mediation skills more easily, both in my personal life and in day-to-day interactions.
What do you consider your greatest achievement and why?
For me, developing the psychology of working framework and theory is my greatest professional accomplishment. This initiative was a dream of mine back in the 1990s – to develop a perspective that would be inclusive, integrative and transformative. With the help of amazing colleagues, we have created a movement that is integral to our field and that is particularly needed during this crisis. Even more importantly, I feel that having a wonderful family of adult daughters and a caring and loving wife is the most precious achievement of my life.
What is one way we can leverage the power of career development right now?
I think that career development needs to embrace a transformative agenda that will be inclusive of all who work and who are aspiring for a decent job that provides sustainability in a humane and safe environment.