Friday, April 9, 2010

Careers for Students of History

AHA's Careers for Students of History is conveniently available online. Unlike my summary post about Becoming a Historian, I'll hold off on giving my two cents here and there. It basically answers the question: What can I do with a history PhD? Selected chapter listing is as follows will guide anyone interested:

Careers in History: An Introduction

Historians in Classrooms: Schools, Colleges, and Universities

Historians in Museums

Historians in Editing and Publishing

Historians in Archives

Historians in Historic Preservation

Historians in Federal, State, and Local History

Historians as Consultants and Contractors

Resources for Further Exploration

I like the breakdown. I'm a big category guy. This is a very valuable resource so get strapped in for a while if you plan to read all of it. I don't have as much to highlight this time around because on the tail-end of this whole journey I already plans but this is still well worth the time to check out. Overall, I'm left with a positive outlook and a hope for the future; wehereas I am left a little less optimistic from this well-meaning post. Some nuggets of happiness include:
In the Fall you will be off to graduate school, filled with the hope that you too someday might be able to emulate the professors you admire so much today. Although you won't want to hear it, you should know that the chances of that happening are pretty small. It's not that you're not intelligent and hard working, but that you have decided to embark on a journey akin to the trials of Hercules and to set yourself against unbelievable odds. The country is littered with the broken dreams of grads and even PhDs who gave it their all and still couldn't make it.
In the coming years there will be more hoops to jump though than you can possibly imagine. You will have to prove yourself in your seminars, you will have to convince your advisor that you are worth her/his attention, you will have to pass comprehensive exams, and you will need to research and write a book-length dissertation. At each step the herd will be culled mercilessly. The majority of your peers coming into graduate school this year will not make it to the doctorate. A sizable percentage of those who earn the doctorate will not find tenure-track jobs, even after years of trying. Many of those who attain tenure track jobs will have to take employment in undesirable locations and/or with ridiculously heavy workloads. Your chances of having exactly the kind of position you envision having are almost non-existent.


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