A Reflection On The NCPH Careers in History Symposium 2014

From history major Brandon West:

In Real Estate the saying goes location, location, location when finding that perfect home. In History we have our own saying when trying to find that perfect job we’ve always dreamed about: networking, networking, networking. Ok maybe that’s not what all historians say but in a competitive job market this is a key component to achieving our dream job. As budding historians we look forward to the day when we graduate with our Bachelor’s Degree and can finally start working in a museum, politics, education and so on; however, just our degree alone will not, for the most part, guarantee us the career we want.

These are important lessons learned at the Careers in History Symposium that Dr. Elder and I attended at IUPUI in Indianapolis last December. The Symposium was sponsored by the National Council on Public History.

careers history symp

The day started off with a panel of professionals in the field of public history who shared a little bit about themselves and the jobs they held. Once each individual had spoken, quick breakout sessions took place in which symposium attendees could sit down and speak to each panelist about his or her education and the nature of their jobs. These panelists included a Park Service historian, archivists, curators and several others. These conversations gave each of us insight into what it would take to crack into the field of history and the steps that would be necessary to achieve success. All of the panelists stressed the importance of networking with individuals inside the field already, and getting your name out there. These suggestions included calling someone in the field already and asking if you could interview them about their job; this way your name is out there in case a job were to open up and you are able to discover the nature of that profession. They called this the “informational interview.” Another big component to success that each individual spoke about was the need for internships. One important note to make is that internships come in a variety of forms; they can either be paid (not as common) and unpaid (more common). This not only gives you a chance to build up your resume but also a list of contacts within the field.

Once these mini breakout sessions were completed we are able to have lunch at the college itself, which was quite enjoyable. Dr. Elder and I met a few students from various schools and spoke with them about their aspirations and enjoyed just casual conversation as well. After lunch there were two sessions that we could pick from to end our day. One session was geared towards students looking to go to graduate school and the other a session for those students who have a degree already and are looking to find a job within the field. The session for those who already have a degree was centered on those with a Master’s Degree or better who are having a tough time finding their career.

The message each of these sessions had in common was the overwhelming need for networking and internships. Without these two components, historians will find it difficult to attain their careers. In such a highly competitive job market, it truly is about “who you know,” and “experience is required.” Largely, these two can be achieved by internships and networking with other professionals in the field you are hoping to enter.


2015 will offer another Symposium. I would encourage any of those interested in learning about opportunities within public history to be sure to consider attending this informative and exciting seminar. If you have any questions I’m sure Dr. Elder would be happy to relay any information she may know. And anyone can also visit the National Council on Public History website directly at www.ncph.org.

History Careers Day Schedule & Registration

The History Department at Eastern Illinois University invites all interested students to their first History Careers Day to be held on 22 February 2013 from 10—3 in Room 4440 of Booth Library. Each session will begin with a fast round of brief presentations (5-6 minutes each) and then open it up to questions about innovations in history research, opportunities for grants, awards, and future study, etc. The morning sessions feature current graduate and undergraduate students and a few of the department faculty. The afternoon sessions are devoted to reports from the front from alumni employed in a variety of fields. (Organizers; Sace Elder, Newton Key, Brian Mann, Nora Small )

Register today! (All sessions and the lunch are free; but space/food is limited. So click here to register now – it takes seconds.)

  • 10:00-10:50 Student session
  1. Emily Scarbrough, “Suffrage and Antisuffrage in Illinois”
  2. Clare Smith, “Stuart Images of Henry VIII”
  3. Pat Vonesh, “Transcultural Identities Among Blacks and Whites in Britain, 1950-1980”
  4. Philip Mohr, “Housing E.I.U.’s G.I.s and Married Students”
  • 11:00-11:50: Faculty session (Professors of History at EIU)
  1. Newton Key, “News Networks in the 17th and 21st Centuries”
  2. Brian Mann, “Researching Modern Iranian History”  
  3. Ed Wehrle, “The View from Camp David”
  4. Anita Shelton, “Translating History” 
  • 12:00-12:50: Lunch (provided)
  1. Study Abroad
  • 1:00-1:50 and 2:00-2:50: Alumni session (2x)
  1. Ryan Blankenship, Managing Director, Mathematics and Statistics, McGraw-Hill Higher Education 
  2. Marc Anderson, Product Manager, Congressional and Historical Collections, ProQuest
  3. Amanda Bryden, State Sites Collection Manager, Indiana State Museum and State Historic Sites, New Harmony State Historic Site 
  4. Bobbi Kingery, Career Counselor, College of Arts & Humanities
  5. Amanda Standerfer, Adult Division Head Librarian, Decatur Public Library
  • 3:00 Career Day Ends.  Note: all participants are invited the keynote talk by Dr. Christopher Olsen, 7 pm in Doudna Lecture Hall.

History Careers Day Keynote Announced

Noted historian Dr. Christopher Olsen, chair and professor of the History at Indiana State, will deliver the first History Careers Day keynote lecture at 7 p.m., February 22, 2013 at the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall. “Crooks, Drunks, and Bandits: Voting in Antebellum America,” offers a lively take on the pre-Civil War American electorate. Dr. Olsen is author of several books including Political Culture and Secession in Mississippi: Masculinity, Honor, and the Antiparty Tradition, 1830-1860 (Oxford U. P., 2000) and The American Civil War: A Hands-On History (Hill and Wang, 2006). The schedule for other History Careers Day events/workshops elsewhere on the Eastern Illinois University campus will be posted shortly.