Coffee Talk: Misconceptions of Being a History Major

If we had a dime for every time someone made the joke, “so, what sport are you going to coach?” after we tell them we are history majors, we could pay off our student loans, jet off to London and you would never hear from us again.

Since we are so used to explaining ourselves, we thought, why not make a blog out of it? (Side note: we are writing this at Coffee Tree, our favorite local coffee shop who is also celebrating their one year anniversary by offering 1/2 priced drinks! If you are in Edmond, be sure to check them out)!

While we were preparing for this post we made the discovery that prior to declaring History as our major, we were both Fashion Design and Marketing Majors. We both knew our true calling lay within the discipline of history however even we fell subject to the commonly held misconceptions surrounding those who pursue History as their major.

Common misconceptions that come with being a history major:

  • Its not a profitable or marketable field of study
  • History is not a challenging field.
  • We are able to regurgitate every history factoid at the drop of a hat. (Do not ask an economic historian when Persia conquered Egypt. Odds are they know the content, but since it is not their study, they probably will not know the exact date).

What we do as history majors:

  • Take large amounts of information and condense it
  • Study overarching fields (economics, politics, geography, gender studies, migration patterns, religion, criminality).
  • Gain hands on access to archival documents, diaries, newspapers, log books, and magazines.
  • Completely read a book in a week
  • Write well, present well and edit well
  • Think critically and analytically
  • Master the art of argument

As Boston University states, “It also offers a unique education in the curation of content, teaching you how to collect, evaluate, and arrange a variety of sources into persuasive arguments and narratives.”

Boston University also recently compiled a sample list of the careers their recent history grads pursued:

digital designer, Washington Post
White House aide
literary agent
physician
real estate developer
documentary filmmaker
paralegal specialist, U.S. Department of Justice
assistant district attorney
capital markets intelligence associate
deputy finance director, senate campaign
clinical research coordinator in pediatric oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
management consultant, Accenture
sustainability consultant, Saatchi & Saatchi
valuation analyst, Duff & Phelps
health policy analyst
program assistant, Afghanistan and Pakistan programs, U.S. Institute of Peace
managing editor, Contexts, journal of the American Sociological Association

We really like this list because it highlights the diversity of career options for history grads.

When looking for employees, even popular television host Rachel Maddow states,

 “I look for people who have done mathematics. Philosophy. Languages.

“And really,” she concluded, “History is kind of the king.”

As stated above, studying history will open your mind to new ideas and teach you how to think critically and analytically. It will challenge you and will help you be successful in whatever career path you choose.

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