“What are you going to do with that? Teach?” That’s what everyone asked me when I told them I was majoring in history. I have done a little volunteer work teaching English as a Second Language to adult learners, but I don’t have a teaching certificate and I’ve never been a schoolteacher on a full time, for pay basis. I majored in history because my father did before me. I grew up reading his textbooks and developed a fascination with how things were in the past and how they evolved into what we see today. And so my bachelor’s degree in history from a small, liberal arts college, prepared me well for my multi-varied career that includes the following stints.
Publishing Editor. In the months after graduation, I applied and interviewed for a variety of jobs including newspaper reporter, paralegal, library associate, and yes, even schoolteacher. A legal publishing company made the first offer and that’s where I spent the next ten years editing an array of professional reference publications.
Library Associate. I was a student library assistant throughout my undergraduate years. After about ten years in the publishing industry, I was able to use my library and publishing experience and find work managing small libraries. I did this for small law firms and as a contractor in a department of a large government agency.
Business Development Analyst. I fell into this job with a government contractor through a random interview at a local temp agency and “went permanent” because I spent long hours helping to put together proposals. My understanding of regional business history came into play as I watched for new contract opportunities on behalf of the company.
Independent cosmetics maker: How does this relate to a degree in history you might ask? I read about old-fashioned beauty products and techniques and tried out recipes since childhood. My interest in the history of beauty and science has provided the basic knowledge of chemistry that I need to make butters, creams, shampoos, lipsticks and other products for sale.
These are just some of my career adventures. But it illustrates the versatility of a bachelor’s degree in history. History majors know how to watch for trends and have an idea what the trends may lead to. This ability comes in handy in many different fields. Teaching is a noble calling, but you can do a lot more with your history degree than teach.