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.
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.
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.
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.
By Michelle M. Martin
In a neat, ornate hand Katie Edwards wrote in her diary on April 4, 1870, about the new chapter in her life that awaited her in the Indian Territory. “After a good night rest in a clean bed I rose this morning much refreshed . . . started for the Mission . . . will start with 80 pupils,” she remarked. With this simple declaration Edwards left behind the security and comfort of Ohio and entered the intricate world of the Mvskoke and Seminole peoples in the Indian Territory.
The AHA Council has voted to approve this set of guidelines, drafted by the Professional Division, on the doctoral dissertation process. The guidelines aim to help both doctoral candidates and those who advise them to fulfill their respective obligations in ways that facilitate the work of students and allow them to graduate in a timely manner, while also respecting the many other duties and responsibilities carried by faculty.
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.
This summer, three history graduate students presented their research on subjects as varied as plantation architecture, gift exchange between Muslims and Christians in the early modern Mediterranean, and Reconstruction politics in Mississippi on the pages of AHA Today. Our bloggers talked about the challenges of doing research—from studying decrepit buildings with little or no historical record to discovering that the central figure of their research was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. They described cross-cultural interactions between groups that are traditionally seen as having little in common and unearthed the messy histories of slavery and racial politics in the South.