“Around 85% of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.”1 This has implications for college students; first, it is likely that over the course of a lifetime, you may have several different careers. Second, if that is true, then organizing your studies around specific training for a single narrowly focused job may be a mistake. The more intelligent option requires you to graduate with a skill-set that allows you to adapt to new employment opportunities as they arise. You need…
Memory skills, allowing you to recognize and recall information relevant to a given problem;
Research skills, allowing you to seek out additional evidence from a variety of perspectives against a background of societal information;
Empathy skills, allowing you to better understand other peoples’ reasoning, values, and situations in this rapidly globalizing world.
The History B.A. is ideally suited to delivering this skill-set to diligent students. History is about memory; in learning so much about the past, your abilities of selection and recall are greatly expanded. Moreover, in pursuing a History degree you research across a great variety of historical sources; this continually asks you to make connections among different types of evidence. Finally, no other major immerses you so deeply in the experiences of peoples “unlike” yourself. You learn to understand societies of the past, and this enhances your ability to work with peoples in the present-an invaluable skill for 21st-century careers.
Studying the past gives you the skills you need today and will need tomorrow. Someone you may have heard of put it quite well:
A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
–Steve Jobs, 1996
Career opportunities with a History degree include the following:
- Appointive or elective political office
- Business careers, from insurance analysists, to project managers and public relations, to banking
- Congressional staffing, including legislative-assistant work
- Historical society archivists and preservationists
- Law and legal affairs, whether law school, paralegal work, or litigation support
- Library science careers
- Media careers, ranging from documentary and scholarly editing to journalism, to television
- Museum curating and educating
- Teaching, through certification in social studies education
There are many more: you may wish to see the series “What to do with a B.A. in History,” published regularly by the American Historical Association at https://tinyurl.com/ya5rtesa. Or just contact the History faculty!
1. Dell Technologies, “Emerging Technologies’ Impact on Society and Work in 2030,” July 12, 2017, accessed 6 Nov. 2018, http://www.iftf.org/future-now/article-detail/realizing-2030-dell-technologies-research-explores-the-next-era-of-human-machine-partnerships/