Why Should You Hire a History Major? Here are 30 Good Reasons

Here is a taste of a post from a website called Shaunanagins.com:

When my co-op advisor asked how my current job relates to my History degree, I didn’t know what to tell her. Not because the job doesn’t relate to my studies–it does. Almost everything does, if you ask me. On the transferable skill side, there is just so, so much.

As I sit at the tail end of my History and Communications double major, resume full of business-friendly internships and experiences, I can’t help but notice how underrated the History half of my education seems to be. It has helped me thrive in so many work worlds–from the public service, to high tech marketing, to education and tourism. It’s time we stopped overlooking the History degree.

Here are some of my favorites on the websites list of “30 Reasons It’s Smart to Hire a History Student”:
  • History students are experts at tracking trends. They know how people, strategies, and time-stamped statistics work (or don’t work)
  • When presented with a whole bunch of information, History students are trained to be able to quickly judge what is relevant, and why it is relevant.
  • History students need to pick up on the jargon, locations, and terms associated with different historical periods and disciplines.  If there’s unique lingo, acronyms, or language that your team/organization uses, they will be quick to understand and adopt it.
  • These kids know how to write.
  • Oh, and they know how to summarize. Throw them a hodgepodge of random information, and they’ll turn it into a concise, focused, and coherent package (hey, maybe they’ll even make you a list! Eh? Eh?)
  • They can recognize long term effects.…which means they can help develop long term solutions.
  • And they’re aware that the world changes constantly, so those solutions (and their attitudes) will likely stay flexible.
  • They know how to back up their points, and are champions of logical argumentation
  • Chances are they have an awareness of international relations and the history/culture of different countries. With our increasingly global economy, this shouldn’t be underestimated.
  • They know how to confirm data, to critically evaluate sources, and to filter out irrelevant information.
  • These are critically thinking storytellers. They can make almost anything look and feel interesting.
  • They are trained on how to observe human behavior. Like, say, a client or customer’s behavior.
Read the rest here.

3 thoughts on “Why Should You Hire a History Major? Here are 30 Good Reasons

  1. No offense, but my [admittedly limited] experience with history professors [esp adjuncts and community college instructors] shows them no better and often worse at critical thing and cogent argument than normal people.

    I do not find many of the 30 Proposed Articles

    –Throw them a hodgepodge of random information, and they’ll turn it into a concise, focused, and coherent package

    — They know how to back up their points, and are champions of logical argumentation

    — They are trained on how to observe human behavior. Like, say, a client or customer’s behavior

    and the like to be self-evident. The question of correlation or causation as limned above

    It could be that the liberal arts attract some of the more creative types who tend to succeed in any field or business regardless of the particulars of their education.

    remains quite open, that is to say the science is not settled.

    [As for my use of “liberal arts,” it's in line with Dr. Fea's string of related posts in this area, which is becoming a more obvious fault line in the political-culture war. Did the diploma make The Scarecrow any smarter or wiser?

    http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2015/04/21/does-a-college-degree-make-you-a-better-hire/

    Among the hiring myths that took root during the recession, here’s a particularly tenacious one: A person with a college degree makes a better employee than a person with a high-school diploma.

    A September 2014 report by labor market analysis firm Burning Glass Technologies documented pervasive “credential creep” in positions that historically didn’t call for a bachelor’s degree but now are more likely to require one. For example, Burning Glass found a 21% credential gap for computer helpdesk workers, meaning 39% of workers in that field hold a BA but 60% of current job postings require one.

    Employers use a college degree as a proxy for many things—critical thinking or communication skills, technical prowess, or simply the ability to follow a goal through to the end.

    But what if they’re wrong, at least some of the time? What if a degree really isn’t a predictor of success or, in some jobs, is an impediment to success?

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  2. Tom – the author of the blogpost reference by Professor Fea was not talking about “liberal arts” (although history is certainly grouped under it) in general or the current paucity of full-time history faculty positions at colleges and universities. She was referring to the methods, skills and “habits of mind” sui generis to history that are crucial in just about every 21st-century “white collar” occupation.

    In 2011, George Augustine (a former under-secretary of the Army, and retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin) wrote a WSJ piece (see URL below) entitled, The Education Our Economy Needs. In the last sentence he concluded that history is foundational (so he’s implying causation, not mere correlation) to the “critical thinking, creative problem-solving, … and communications skills needed to fuel productivity and growth.” He stressed that “subjects like history impart critical thinking, research skills, and the ability to communicate clearly and cogently. Such skills are certainly important for those at the top, but in today's economy they are fundamental to performance at nearly every level.” Shauna is making the same point with an impressive, much longer and a bit redundant list. As Augustine noted, his company had lots of “excellent engineers,” but “the factor that most distinguished those who advanced in the organization was the ability to think broadly and read and write clearly,” stressing the importance of history education.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904265504576568351324914730.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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  3. From the comments:

    Skydragon3377 says:
    April 17, 2015 at 10:27 pm
    I graduated in 2012 with an MA in European history, and I am still basically unemployed. I teach as an adjunct professor for an online university, but I make about $4,000 a year doing that (no benefits)…

    I wish more people recognized the value of professional historians.

    No doubt.
    _________________

    Now another fellow writes:

    Mike J. Walker says:
    April 18, 2015 at 8:25 am
    I just want to mention that I have a great job and I have a BA and an MA in History. I am pursuing a PhD in Education Leadership (and history education is one of the emphases). I do teach as an adjunct instructor to make extra money, but my history degrees helped me get my current position.

    Which is fine, but it's unclear whether this clearly smart and talented fellow would have done just fine regardless of his major, and perhaps even better with a more useful major.

    In other words, correlation isn't causation: It could be that the liberal arts attract some of the more creative types who tend to succeed in any field or business regardless of the particulars of their education.

    Not to be a wet blanket on the liberal arts, because the question here isn't whether one should study the liberal arts–history, philosophy, art and literature should be woven into the fabric of everyone's life and lifetime. The question is whether the wisest course is to spend a healthy chunk of one's youth going into debt to study a field for its own sake alone.

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