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What are some of the options for an undergrad with a BA in History?

I'll be graduating soon and there seems to be no real life options for someone with a BA in History except to press on towards a MA in History. I need a job and want one in this field. #history #historian #historical-research #biblical-history #historical-writing

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Brian P. D.’s Answer

I graduated with a BA in English, so I was in the same situation - not knowing what I wanted to do or any specific jobs for which my education prepared me.

I went into journalism as a newspaper reporter because I loved writing and current events. After a number of years I decided to study history on the graduate level and am now a history and writing teacher. The good news is that both English and history provided a broad-based education that prepared me for almost any career I wanted.

So the short answer to your question is that your options are wide open.

A good grounding in history provides a background for working in so many different areas - journalism, politics, public relations, military, social services, education, business. Anything that involves an understanding of people, their past and their motivations is served by the study of events and people from the past. Compared with your peers who have taken more specific degrees, you will have a greater understanding of how and why situations arise and how they are important through your knowledge of history.

So rather than be concerned about which specific jobs fit with a history degree, start looking at career areas that really interest you and consider how you can apply your knowledge of history to jobs in those fields. When you go into interviews don't try to convince them that you should be hired simply because you have a history degree, but rather because you have considered how your understanding of history can be applied to the job and will help you meet their organizational needs and goals and become a success in the position.

Rather than saying, "I have a history degree and I think your company fits well with that sort of education," your line should be, "I have a degree in history and this is how I can put that to work for your company/organization."

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Kelsey’s Answer

I graduated with a BA in Classics (ancient history) and a minor in Theology, I feel your pain! It sounds cliché, but I am a big supporter of studying and majoring in whatever your are passionate about. Unfortunately, a lot of jobs utilizing history every day require an advanced degree - museum science or a master/PhD in history so you can teach.

After I graduated with my BA I did not want to go back to school right away for my masters, so I started looking for any jobs that interested me, and referred to my degree as "Liberal Arts". The good news is that in interviews when people asked about my specific degree they were usually interested in my ancient history studies because it's not something a lot of people major in. It was a good talking point, and I managed to work in all the skills I acquired in college - researching, critical thinking, writing (if you major in any type of history, be prepared to write a TON of papers), etc. Unless you're applying for a job that requires specific skills, like a biology lab tech or financial advisor, what you majored in doesn't matter to most companies. What they care about for most entry level positions is that you had the dedication and drive to complete your degree. Most jobs I applied for looked closer at my skills and previous experience than my education beyond make sure I had a degree.

The good news is that you don't need to plan out your entire life right now. As you grow, and experience different jobs, you might discover a new interest or passion, and if you already have a BA you can go back to school or take part-time classes while you're working to get your masters. I think of undergrad as a very general degree, and masters as studying a specific topic.

I have a history degree, and ended up working at Verizon Wireless because I'm interested in technology, starting as a lowly customer service rep and moving up as I gained experience. I'm currently working in the marketing department, and utilizing tuition reimbursement through work to take online classes towards a masters degree in marketing. You just need to remember that the first job you get after graduation is not going to be your last job, sometimes you just need something to pay the bills, get health insurance, and give you experience for your resume. I still love history, that will never end, but I did some shadowing and volunteer internships in college - I discovered I do not want to be a teacher, so that limited my options. But I discovered a new passion for marketing and technology - I love my job, and I love getting to test out new phones/devices before anyone else. I graduated in 2008, so the iPhone and Smartphones in general were brand new concepts, there is no way I could have planned for a career focused around smarthphones, you never know where an opportunity will lead.

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Vernon’s Answer

Good question. You will not be alone to have a college degree and not be able to find a good-paying job in your field. The best thing history can do for you is to lead you into politics. As you probably know, the politics in Texas are 70% Republican, so you're not going to get the whole picture here.

It wouldn't hurt to press on to your M.A., but also try to intern with either a state rep./senator or a Federal equivalent. Otherwise, teaching is your best bet. That said, most history or social studies teachers have to coach something in Texas public schools. Prepare your resumé accordingly.