So What CAN You Do With a History Major?–Part Eight

“You are a history major?”

“What Are You Going to Do With That?”

Career counselor Katharine Brooks calls this “THE QUESTION.” (You may remember my previous post on Brooks’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education).

I just received my copy of Brooks’s You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path From Chaos to Career. There are enough outstanding tidbits in this book to merit a blog post or two. I would also encourage any student wrestling with THE QUESTION to get a copy of her book.

What I really like about Brooks’s approach to career counseling for liberal arts majors is the way that she debunks the idea of the “linear” career path. She writes: “The problem behind THE QUESTION is that it assumes a linear path between your major and your career. And the lure of the linear path is powerful. It’s embedded in our thinking.”

Brooks argues that the idea of finding a major that will lead to an ultimate and specific career does not conform with reality. It is the kind of thinking that informed the early twentieth century vocational education movement. In reality, Brooks notes, art majors become lawyers, chemistry majors are teaching in South Korea, economics majors become veterinarians, religion majors work for MTV, and English majors become psychotherapists.

And history majors do many things. They teach, work in museums, and become professional historians, but they are also law enforcement agents, lawyers, doctors, movie producers, journalists, and business persons. Keep reading our ongoing series to learn more about the exciting things that history majors around the country are doing with their degrees.

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