I am delighted to introduce my latest guest-blogger Jenn Nelson. Jenn graduated from Huron in 2010 with a BA in History and Political Science and then went on to complete an MA in Public History at Western University. She has a abundance of experience and expertise in the promotion of museums and cultural institutions through the use of social media. You can check out her blog unmuseum at http://jennnelson.com/
“[A] ny fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it.”
I am sure that you have read many resumes and CVs (hundreds if not thousands) during your time as an employer and have dismissed those who have had said History degree.
**STOP RIGHT HERE**
Firstly, ask yourself why you may have dismissed said application. Is your first thought, “What can someone who knows everything about the War of 1812 do to support and contribute to our business?” This is the first mistake. Don’t think about the subject matter; focus on the skills. As Historians, we can’t tell you everything that’s happened in History, that’s not what we do. Among other things, we study trends, theories and problems, that are very relevant to today, and communicate and interpret them.
Secondly, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that having a History degree means that we are qualified for everything.
Yes, for the most part (and I’m the first to admit it), Historians are HUGE Geeks, but most of us don’t love the History Channel (that’s another blog post in itself). That aside, we develop a wide variety of skills that are applicable to any workplace.
So, what are some of these skills?
1. We analyze and interpret research. Throughout both of my History degrees, I sifted through hundreds (if not thousands) of documents; primary and secondary sources. I learned how to evaluate what research was valuable and what was garbage. I always had a back up to a back up and learned how to use these documents to my advantage.
2. We are awesome communicators. Personally, I’ve developed this from studying Public History (how we communicate the academic stuff to the regular Joe on the street, who has no knowledge or background in History). Historians develop key presentation skills when studying History. We learn how to speak in a concise way, as well as write clearly and to the point.
3. We pick up on the little things. We pick up on things that you might not event think of! We also develop this through years of writing papers and sifting through the research.
4. We analyze trends. As stated previously, we reflect on the present by referring to the past. This can be very helpful when looking at business success or failure.
I could go on…but this is a blog post and not a book.
Key skills to take away from this (I’m not saying every Historian will have these, but the majority do):
- Effective communication skills (both written and oral)
- Key problem solving and the ability to critically analyze situations
- Independent thinking
- Highly organized
- Ability to work with others and on an individual basis
- Manage time, stick to deadlines and work under pressure
…and the list goes on….
I’m not saying that studying other subjects can’t give you these skills, but sometimes you have to point them out when it isn’t so obvious 🙂
I’d also like to say, don’t rule out extra curricular activities and the skills that can be developed from taking part in them. Just because it isn’t paid, doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.
In conclusion, I hope I’ve shed some light on the skills that Historians develop.