Graduate Education

Thinking about Where Historians Work before Graduate School

Working at the American Historical Association for the past two years has made it impossible to shield myself from the uglier truths about pursuing a graduate degree in history—from the imbalance between the number of graduate degrees conferred and jobs available in the professoriate to the increasingly precarious nature of employment in higher education. Taken alone, these challenges might have convinced me (or any rational person) to run in the other direction. Instead, two years after getting my bachelor’s degree, I’m starting a history PhD program in the fall. 

Preparing Students for Career Diversity: What Role Should History Departments Play?

By Kristina Markman and Michael A. Ryan

Last year, we participated in a panel on “Career Diversity for the Medievalist” at the 51st annual meeting of the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS). The ICMS is a premier academic conference in the field of medieval studies that draws over 3,000 specialists in all aspects of the medieval past from around the world to bucolic Kalamazoo for four days of scholarship and conviviality. As we both come from institutions whose history departments received the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians Departmental Grants to reevaluate the training of historians for a variety of careers within and outside of academia, we intended to center this panel on the question of how medievalists can use their specific skill sets for many careers.

History in Harmony: How I Apply My Historical Training to Music Criticism

By David Allen

Whether critics are interested in painting, sculpture, jazz, fiction, or any other art, they are, or at least can be, engaged in historical work. They root descriptions of, and judgments about, contemporary art in an understanding of the past. They might be more prone than professional historians to treating the past on the terms of the present, granted, but they do work that engages history all the same. 

Playing the Long Game: Career Diversity for Future PhDs

By Taylor Perk

At any AHA annual meeting, it’s easy to spot dozens of well-dressed individuals preparing for interviews in the hopes of finding a job within the academy. In the past few years, however, with the advent of Career Diversity, the flavor of the meeting has changed a bit. At the Colorado Convention Center, only a few rooms over from the Job Center, one could find several PhD students and faculty members gathered to think beyond the professorial life. 

“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.