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 Annie Johnson
Unlike most graduate students, when I started my history PhD at the University of Southern California, I knew I did not want to be a professor. Fresh out of the public humanities program at Brown, I was inspired by the work of public historians like Steven Lubar and Richard Rabinowitz. I figured I would go on and get a PhD, like they had, and then find a curatorial job in a history museum. Not even a semester into my first year, however, my plan began to change (although I didn’t quite realize it at the time).
By Jason Steinhauer
In February I had the privilege of visiting a public university in the Midwest and meeting with students from its graduate history program, both masters and PhD candidates. I left very impressed: the department chair was dedicated and forward-thinking, the faculty were excellent, and the students were remarkably bright. One was researching the intersection of African American history with health and medicine. Another was working on a topic connected to LGBT history. A third was doing work connected to public policy.
By Darren A. Raspa
At its finest the news media connects us with human stories and events. As historians, it is these records of humanity from the past that drive us and link us to the people, events, and processes we have the privilege of dedicating our lives to. As a contributing historical editor for Morocco World News last summer, I had the immense opportunity to both participate in the writing of history as it unfolds today, and utilize the tools we have developed as trained historians.
By Caroline Wazer
In 2013, the American Historical Association released a report on the career outcomes of 2,500 history PhDs who received their degrees between 1998 and 2009. The report found that almost a quarter of the respondents were in careers outside the professoriate, including those in academic administration, nonprofits, and K–12 teaching.
“Are you on the job market?”
“No,” I said, pointing to the bold red ribbon imprinted with “AHA Staff” attached to my name badge. “I already have one. I’m the associate editor, publications, at the AHA.”
“Oh, so are you going on the job market in the future?”
By Grace Ballor
Recent efforts to professionalize doctoral students in history for careers beyond the professoriate, including initiatives such as the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians, have faced significant resistance from critics, students, and faculty alike, who worry about the commercialization of the academy. Skeptics express concern that attempts to “repurpose the history PhD” dissuade graduate students from scholarship in favor of other career paths, and deliberately devalue both a doctoral degree in history as well as the pursuit of historical knowledge.