Expanding the Career Horizons of History PhDs

The tremendous response to Anthony Grafton and Jim Grossman’s article “No More Plan B” revealed that there is intense interest among our members in discussing the full ranges of career paths open to history PhDs.

To continue the conversation, the Professional Division organized a mini-conference at the annual meeting in New Orleans entitled The Malleable PhD. The sessions bring together PhDs happily employed in a variety of contexts. Their jobs include public history, academic administration, business, the federal government, consulting firms, digital history, and university presses. One session, The Entrepreneurial Historian, features six historians who have launched their own for-profit enterprises, including web sites, consulting and research practices, and an IT firm. The historians participating in The Malleable PhD will to share their knowledge with the next generation of job seekers.

The division has also organized two hands-on workshops to discuss the practical issues that can vex graduate students seeking to expand their career horizons. From CV to Resume will help job seekers translate their experiences as a graduate student into language that employers will recognize. Finding and Loving a Government Job will help participants navigate the byzantine federal hiring process.

The division is encouraging graduate programs to think seriously about the question of how we ought to reform graduate education to reflect the many career options open to PhDs with a session entitled Transforming History Graduate Education to Make the PhD “Malleable.”

Graduate students and early career professionals are encouraged to stop by the open forum of the AHA’s Graduate and Early Career Committee on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the workshop and hear more about the AHA’s plans to continue broadening the range of career options open to history PhDs. AHA members may also be interested in our new member benefit—free, premium-content subscription to the Versatile PhD web resource for PhDs and ABD’s interested in careers outside academia.

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