What can you do with a history major or minor? Turns out, the possibilities are endless if you think about how you learned history versus what you learned about history.
The History Club invited three speakers from the community to share how their history undergraduate degrees helped them secure jobs in the law, the non-profit sector, the national parks system and Minnesota museums.
Professor Mark Osler of the UST Law School discussed how history teaches us how to interpret any situation and effectively communicate our conclusions; crucial skills for just about any career path. He explained that, “as history students, you have an incredible advantage of how much writing you do in your classes. This is a major skill set.” Especially given that historical research shows us how to take a body of evidence and make sense of it, to offer an interpretation. Professor Osler used his analytical skills to excel in law school, begin his career as a federal prosecutor, and now teach law at UST. And all those course hours spent writing, it’s landed him in a number of publications including The New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine.
Helen Kouba from College Possible also emphasized how history trains students to be effective writers as well as critical thinkers who can draw upon the number of areas covered in the discipline. For example, Kouba brought together her communication skills and interest in science in an “interpretation internship” at Mount Rainier National Park through AmeriCorps. Moreover, her experiences as an intern allowed her to develop additional skills that helped her a secure a job with the non-profit College Possible, such as marketing, grant writing, and fundraising.
Flexibility was the key for Chad Thurman of the Folsom House, one of the Minnesota Historic Society’s historic sites. Chad explained that when you research as a historian, “you learn to be flexible based on research. You might have a thesis but it changes as you review the evidence.” In his experience, this same type of flexibility can be applied to jobs in museum work, the non-profit sector, the private sector – whatever! Similarly, history students can take any body of evidence and make sense of it; whether that is primary documents or marketing research.
All three speakers agreed that historical methods – research, analysis, and effective communication – set you up for a variety of careers. Their practical advice was:
- promote these skills – research, analysis, effective communication – on your resume
- think as broadly as possible when it comes to careers that rely on these skills
- volunteer as much as possible – get yourself involved in areas that interest you and start making personal connections that will surely help you down the road.
And use them to start your networking! All of our guests are happy to talk to you further about what you can do with a history degree…especially Helen Kouba who reports that College Possible hires 75 recent graduates a year!