Career Diversity for Historians

“What Transferable Skills Do I Have?” Preparing for Careers within and beyond the Academy

By Jessica Derleth

Second to my fervent goal of not flubbing my paper presentation, I arrived at the 2017 AHA annual meeting hoping to find answers to one of my most pressing questions: how do I translate the skills I am learning in graduate school so they are legible to employers in both academic and nonacademic careers? The overarching answer to my question slowly emerged from a conglomeration of conference sessions on career diversity and pedagogy, conversations about humanities funding, panels on applying for academic jobs, and a string of tweets during the plenary that aimed to inform the new presidential administration of what they ought to consider in their first 100 days.

Broadening Your Career Horizon: Practical Advice for Using the AHA’s Career Contacts Program

By Katie Streit

The challenging academic job market facing historians is one topic that is frequently discussed in graduate courses, academic journals, and job reports. While students are aware of the steep competition for limited positions, there are few resources available for identifying careers outside of academia and successfully marketing oneself for those positions. Fortunately, the AHA is trying to help with its Career Contacts program. The service connects graduate students and recent PhDs with historians working in various careers, including those employed in the government and nonprofit organizations.

Becoming an Assistant Professor: Things I Wish I’d Known as a Grad Student

By Jared Hardesty

As I gear up for another AHA annual meeting, I have been reflecting a lot about my own transition from graduate student to assistant professor. Mostly it’s because this will be my second year staffing the “Ask an Assistant Professor” booth at the annual meeting’s Career Fair. For those who can’t make it to the booth, and are mystified by life on the other side, here are some things about becoming an assistant professor that I wish I’d known as a graduate student.

Mellon Foundation Grant Expands Impact and Scope of Career Diversity for Historians

The American Historical Association is pleased to announce the receipt of a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue and expand its work on Career Diversity for Historians. Launched in 2014 after several years of preliminary work, Career Diversity for Historians supports an exploration of the culture and practice of doctoral education in history. Pilot programs at Columbia University; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Chicago; and the University of New Mexico have devised new courses and programming, including doctoral internships, revised professionalization seminars, new community spaces, and innovative grants.

A visualization of job titles for 2,500 history PhDs who graduated between 1998 and 2009. From "The Many Careers of History PhDs: A Study of Job Outcomes, Spring 2013."

Owning Our Graduate Education: Preparing for Career Diversity

By Jessica Derleth and Tiffany Baugh-Helton

Jessica and Tiffany
While attending the AHA’s 2016 annual meeting, Jessica and I—PhD candidates in history at Binghamton University in New York—had a revelation of sorts at the Graduate and Early Career Committee’s open forum on Career Diversity. Like many other history graduate students, we had accepted the “Plan A” culture that exists in so many institutions: “Plan A” is a tenure-track job in academia; “Plan B” is whatever we can do to avoid becoming baristas with PhDs.

November 28, 2016

Historians in Training: Interning at an Academic Journal

By Caroline Séquin

Last year I spent some time in Paris conducting archival research for my dissertation and working as an assistant editor for Clio, Femmes, Genre, Histoire, the French leading academic journal on the history of women and gender. Together, these two experiences provided me with an opportunity to apply skills acquired in graduate school to new work environments and develop new ones, and to experience working outside academia while remaining actively engaged with the historical literature in my field of expertise.

Connecting the Dots between History and Policymaking: My Internship at the National History Center

When I started my MA program in history at American University in Washington, DC, last fall, I was absolutely sure I was on the track to becoming a tenured professor. I have always enjoyed discussing and analyzing history, so it seemed only natural that I would join the one profession I believed to exist that would allow me to do just that. However, as I dove into my graduate coursework and research, I began to realize that academia was not the only job option available for historians.

What I Do: Aaron Marrs, US Department of State

As part of the Career Diversity for Historians initiative, the AHA is producing and making available short videos of historians working in unusual places talking about what they do. The newest video features Aaron Marrs, historian at the Policy Studies Division in the US Department of State.

September 13, 2016