History 300 – History at Work: Professional Skills of the Major
What can I do with a History degree? How can a History degree help me get a good job and develop a career that I love? How can I talk about my History degree so that prospective employers can understand its value and workplace relevance? How can I make the best of the opportunities I have — and create new opportunities for myself, too? Why do employers love History majors?
History 300 will help you answer questions like these as you consider your future career options. You’ll hear from successful professionals about how they got to where they are, how History has helped them, and how you can build a successful career for yourself, too. You’ll craft a resume and cover letter, and practice simple but crucial skills for interviewing, networking, and your first year in a new job. And, for those taking the 2-credit option (with discussion section), the course will walk you through the process of researching possible career options, networking, and conducting informational interviews. In other words, this course offers you structure, advice, and insights from successful history alumni as you begin or continue your career exploration and planning.
History 300 has two parts:
A 1-credit Speaker Series (or lecture) that meets 12:00-1:00 (or 12:05-12:55), usually with a guest speaker. (Feel free to bring your lunch!)
A 1-credit Discussion section that meets 1:00-1:50, after the seminar.
You may take the lecture only for 1 credit. You may take the lecture and discussion section for 2 credits. Make sure you are registered for the number of credits you expect. (If you will be doing an internship for credit, sign up for HIST 301 as well as HIST 300 — you’ll do your internship and take both the seminar and the discussion. Contact the History Careers Advisor, Christina Matta, about internship opportunities and applying for a scholarship.)
In the Speaker Series (lecture) you will:
- Learn from guest speakers about how they used their humanities educations as the foundation of a successful career;
- Learn about how different industries and fields prize education in history;
- Create a professional resume and cover letter; and
- Learn to articulate the value of your history degree in a professional setting.
In the Discussion section you will:
- Research two possible career fields and outline a plan for reaching your dream job in each field.
- Hone your written and oral presentation skills in order to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively in a professional setting; and
- Practice explaining how the skills you have learned in the history major would apply to new jobs.
Assignments will include regular, active attendance at 80% of the classes. Assignments for the lecture will include approximately 1-2 pages of writing a week, such as: a resume, a cover letter, executive summaries of the talks, and thank you notes. Assignments for the discussion will include research on career paths of interest to you, and interview preparation. Other than the career research (which most people do in more detail), these assignments also generally require about 1-2 pages of writing a week.
There is one short, very useful assigned text: Alison Green’s How to Get a Job. This is available in pdf, usually with a discount available to students registered in the class during the first weeks of the semester.
Typical Topics and/or Schedule
Lectures consist almost entirely of guest speakers from a range of fields, such as business, nonprofits, government careers, and freelance writing.
Recent fields have included: technical business analysis, libraries and archives, finance, non-profit administration, law, sports management, international human rights, educational publishing, museum studies, healthcare management, consulting, and media/advertising.
Discussion topics include: Writing Effective Memos, Job Search Resources and Strategies, Networking Basics, Effective Presentations, Informal Interview Preparation, Elevator Pitches, Job Interview Preparation, Mock Job Interviews.
History 301 – History Internship Seminar
History 301 — and the required concurrent participation in History 300 — will give you the context and structure to reflect on and get the most out of your internship. If you are interested in doing an internship but haven’t found one yet — and if you’re a current or prospective History major — consult with the History Careers Advisor, Christina Matta. History 301 is open to declared History Majors only.
Recent History internships have included:
- Ramsay County (MN) District Court
- Wisconsin Historical Society, Department of Museums and Historical Sites
- Office of Senator Tammy Baldwin
- Wisconsin 101
- National Archives and Records Administration
- UW Research and Sponsored Programs
- Mosse Program in History
- European Union Delegation to the United States
- Chicago History Museum
- Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services
An internship is a chance for a student to apply skills or content that they learn through the major in a professional setting. Internships are conducted under the direction of a supervisor who provides regular review of the work, and interns generally contribute to specific projects or products and/or fill specific roles within an organization. They differ from hourly jobs in that they emphasize higher-level skills over basic office or service tasks (such as answering phones, making copies, or greeting guests), may involve considerable independent work, and help the student develop professional skills that can be transferred to another position in the same (or a related) field.
In order to qualify for History 301, an internship must require at least 80 total hours of work and training experiences.