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Careers for History Majors and Minors

What are the skills one learns as an historian?

History majors and minors acquire many skills that prepare them for careers upon graduation. Before graduation students should consider doing an internship. MSU Denver’s Applied Learning Center (Internship Center) as well as the History Department http://www.msudenver.edu/history provide information concerning internships.

 

"Zahadolzha (Fringe-Mouth God)-Navajo Indians of Arizona & New Mexico Collection. Photographed by: Edward S. Curtis, ca. 1904-1908. Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, edited by Chrystyna.
"Zahadolzha (Fringe-Mouth God)-Navajo Indians of Arizona & New Mexico Collection. Photographed by: Edward S. Curtis, ca. 1904-1908. Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, edited by Chrystyna.

When seeking an internship or employment, applicants should, in their cover letters or interviews, include those qualifications applicable to the job. These include:

  • Effective writing skills—fundamental to any job for which a college degree is a necessity, effective writing means the ability to successfully and precisely communicate one’s ideas in text.
  • Critical analysis skills—necessary to the decision-making process for any job, critical analysis means the ability to analyze a situation and come up with creative and practical solutions.
  • Research skills—essential to any job or career, research skills encompass the ability to understand past practices and policies and to trace the roots of any issue, to find new information which bears on that issue, and to incorporate that information into one’s analysis of an issue.
  • Interdisciplinary thinking and training—interdisciplinary thinking and training provide the essential abilities to think about a problem in a multitude of ways, to analyze it using multiple tools, and to provide solutions which draw from different traditions and thought.
  • Curiosity and inquisitiveness—indispensable to any position, curiosity and inquisitiveness entail the desire to learn more and to continue learning, to examine reasons beneath issues, and to come to understand them as part of a continual, life-long, education process.

What can you do with an undergraduate History major or minor?

Jobs include advertising executive, advocate, analyst, archivist, broadcaster, business executive, campaign worker, consultant, congressional aide, editor, foreign service officer, foundation staffer, information specialist, intelligence agent, journalist, legal assistant, lobbyist, personnel manager, public relations staffer, canvasser, or teacher.

Here is a brief list, provided by the American Historical Association, of the career opportunities available to the undergraduate history major. https://www.historians.org/jobs-and-professional-development/career-resources/careers-for-history-majors

 

For More Information:

DeGalan, Julie and Stephen E. Lambert, Great Jobs For History Majors. Lincolnwood, IL: VGM Career Horizons, 1995.
(The best single volume concerning the subject.) 

Diffley, Peter, The Graduate School Companion. New York: Princeton Review/Random House, Inc., 2007
(This is the best book on preparation for graduate study. Appendix C describes both “Academic” and “Non-Academic” Job Portfolios including examples of the all-important Cover Letter.)

Gray, Wood et. al., Historian’s Handbook: A Key to the Study and Writing of History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956; revised 1964.
(Although old, the book is still useful.)

Halpern, Frances. Writer’s Guide to Publishing in the West. New York: Pinnacle Books, 1982
(This book suggests how history majors can finesse their expertise into becoming publishers, agents, newspaper/magazine editors, and syndicators. Particularly helpful for those wishing to remain in the West.)

Harris, Rebecca. Reading Books for Pay. Volumes I and II. USA: Clarendon House, 1996
(This describes job opportunities in book industries.)

Polanichka, Dana M. Getting An Academic Job in History. Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 2009
(This provides practical advice about job seeking and interviewing.)

Schulz, et al, Careers for Students of History at http://www.historians.org/jobs-and-professional-development/career-resources/careers-for-students-of-history
Yager, Fred and Jan. Career Opportunities in the Publishing Industry. New York: Ferguson, 2010.

Brooks, Katherine S. Connecting Students to Careers: Training and Instruction Guide. Sacramento, CA: California Community College Chancellor’s Office, 2010–11.

———. You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. New York: Viking, 2009.

Dickler, Jessica. “The Hidden Job Market.” CNNMoney. http://money.cnn.com/2009/06/09/news/economy/hidden_jobs/.

National Association of Colleges and Employers, “Job Outlook 2015.” Bethlehem, PA: NACE, 2015.

See more at: http://blog.historians.org/2015/05/entering-job-market-ba-in-history/#sthash.4l1dEfQW.dpuf