By Leah Ching
University students hope to pursue a career in a field they are passionate about, hopefully doing something they are excited to wake up for. For those pursuing a history degree and wondering where this can lead, there’s a world of opportunities available. Highlighted here are a few potential career prospects.
The great thing about activism, whether working with a non-governmental organization to combat human rights abuses, or organizing a protest with the Occupy movement, is that it promotes positive change and it is something one can feel proud about. Professor Steve Jobbitt from Lakehead’s History department spoke of the usefulness of history when it comes to activism: “It helps you understand the problems you are up against, and a deep historical awareness of the injustices you are trying to counter is essential not just to framing resistance against an oppressive or unfair system, but also to figuring a way out of it.” This exciting career path is anything but a boring desk job. Today’s history student may be the revolutionary of tomorrow. Anyone can pursue a career in the diverse field of activism – no one’s too young to start exploring this option. Combating social injustices is not only admirable, but it is also an extremely exciting way to utilize skills gained from a history degree.
For those with a passion for travel, Foreign Service may be for you. Serving one’s country across the globe is to be at the center of international relations and to experience a wide variety of cultures, places and ways of life. Whether working in Delaware, Dubai, or even in the Dominican, diplomacy involves understanding the way a nation operates and why. History provides the opportunity to cultivate a diverse and well-rounded outlook on life, and an intricate knowledge of nations and global interactions.
Writing for fiction, screen and stage
History majors may be writing the next New York Times bestseller or Broadway’s next hit play. Telling a story through text, performance, or film are areas where creativity fuses with the analytical skills developed in history. History often inspires the writing of fiction and throughout time has been an excellent way to not only provide entertainment, but to tell stories of the marginalized and help create awareness about those who are silenced by the structures of Western society.
Increasing numbers of young adults are finding it valuable to seek out careers focused on the study of gender issues, which remains a pressing and provocative arena in contemporary society. From analyzing “Slut Walk” to Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto,” gender studies are anything but boring. Professor Jane Nicholas of Lakehead’s Women’s Studies department has a PhD in history and illustrates the dynamic nature of history in her work: “Knowing our diverse past is a critical element in Women’s Studies as we focus on activism, collective and individual resistance, and real-world connections between history, theory, and practice. Working in an interdisciplinary field like Women’s Studies allows me to blend my knowledge of history with cutting edge theory in ways that supports students’ learning needs and their long-term career goals.”
These careers are just a springboard for students to realize the diverse and exciting opportunities out there. Coming out of university with a history degree equips students with stellar analytical writing and reading skills. Professor Jobbitt truly encapsulates how awesome studying history can be:
“In the end, however, I think that the best way to approach the study of history is not to ask ‘What kind of job I can get with this?’, but rather ‘What insights can the study of history open up for me, not just about the world, but about myself?’ History has the potential to open up critical and often profound insights on the human experience, and thus what it means to be human. This for me is the best reason to be doing history. And it is amazing what opportunities open up for people who are not just aware of the world around them, but also self-aware.”