WHY STUDY HISTORY?
History is a versatile degree that can lead to a variety of careers. Students develop research skills that allow them to collect, analyze, interpret and intelligently present all sorts of data. They also learn good writing skills. A History degree is a good springboard for any profession that deals with information.
A few articles on the careers of history graduates and on the value of this diploma:
A study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce finds that over the course of a career, a liberal arts education is remarkably practical, providing a median return on investment 40 years after enrollment that approaches $1 million. The results, searchable and sortable by institution, were released Tuesday.
(extended quote below is from: “How History Made Me a Better Marketer” by Adrienn Wiebe on LinkedIn)
There seems to be a misconception about what majoring in history actually entails. We don’t just memorize facts about wars and regurgitate them back onto the page to pass tests. Being a history major taught me three of the most valuable skills successful marketing requires: research, writing, and identifying significance.
Spending countless hours researching historical figures and events did more than teach me about history. It trained me to be able to conduct the type of in-depth analysis that full-scale marketing requires. I apply my history research methodology to everything I do in marketing. It allows me to gain a deep understanding of a situation as a whole, pinpoint factors of key importance, and identify areas that require more focus of attention.
Those countless research hours were followed by countless hours of writing, re-writing, proofreading, and editing papers. I gained strong writing skills as a result. All this practice also increased my ability to speed-read and pound out quality papers in a matter of hours. And as any good marketer knows, the social media landscape is constantly changing. So, the ability to process information and create content quickly is a must.
When people find out I’m a history major, 9 times out of 10 they will usually quiz me on some obscure history fact or specific date in history. I’ll be honest, I’m horrible at numbers. I can’t remember dates to save my life. But luckily, being a history major was about more than just knowing when something happened. Rather, it’s knowing why something happened, and what it means. And that’s the key to marketing, if you ask me. It’s one thing to know what results your marketing campaign is producing. It’s an entirely different thing to know why your strategies are producing those results, and what they mean for your marketing efforts overall.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A HISTORY DEGREE?
- Teaching history and social studies in primary or secondary school. The route: a B.Ed from a Canadian or foreign university. For admission, a good record of volunteer work with young people is crucial, as are good grades. You can apply for admission into York’s concurrent B.Ed after completing one year of university study or directly from high school (Pre-Education Direct Entry). This allows you to work toward your education degree while at the same time completing our History degree. Anything you do – work, travel, sports, community service, arts – that adds to your talents and vision of the world will help you to succeed in your search for jobs.
- Law: Having learned to sift through evidence, weigh alternative arguments, and construct convincing pieces of writing in your History courses, you will have many of the essential skills for legal work. High marks are imperative for getting into law school, as are good L-SAT scores. Toronto is crowded with lawyers, but there is more room farther from Bay Street.
- The MBA: History and Economics are a good preparation for business and management training, provided you are not allergic to numbers and quantitative data. Many programs and employers prefer students with the strong research and writing skills that are developed through broad Liberal Arts degrees such as History.
- Public History, archive and museum work. For curatorial work, there are programmes in museology at the University of Toronto and at other schools in the USA and Canada. To get a job at a museum or archeological site, you should volunteer or seek a summer job at one of these institutions. Some kinds of museum work require art history, sciences, or information technology. As for the prospects: this is a niche, but this sector is growing.
- Publishing, print journalism, and communication in general are a natural for historians, with their training in research, writing and communication.
- Information technology. Since the web deals in information, your training in history can be very useful. Toronto is a major centre for these trades. It is important to keep in mind that, alongside technical skills, the world of electronic media also needs people who are good with words, with design, even with music. The prospects are excellent.
- Broadcasting, electronic journalism, film. The growing popularity of the history channel and of historical programmes on educational TV serves to remind us of history’s relevance. General research skills help. The prospects are quite good, though better in the USA.
- Public Service. Levels of government bureaucracy are many, and so are the pathways. Some paths lead through law school or graduate school in policy studies.
- Non-governmental organizations. A large range of jobs in the public and charitable sector are available today. Many organizations do very important work, especially abroad. The routes are similar to those mentioned above under “Public Service”. Languages and volunteer work both help. As for the prospects, while not a road to riches, the rewards are many.
- University teaching in history. The route: a PhD at a strong university in Canada, Britain, the USA or elsewhere. Begin planning early at Glendon. Consult with your professors about what to study. It is challenging to get a full-time job in academia these days, but for those who excel in their History courses and are creative researchers and writers, this can be a very fulfilling career.