Business and Enterpreneurship

Dale Smith


Dale Smith

Dale Smith graduated with a B.S. with distinction in History and Computer Sciences from UW-Madison in 1982. He is currently an Executive Vice President in Wealth Management & Securities Services at U.S. Bank. in Milwaukee.

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First Job and Internship


My first job was as an intern at US Bank straight out of high school. I mostly did odd jobs and programing activities. It wasn’t until I went to college that I got practical skills with my degree to be productive. The soft skills I learned with my History degree – like researching, problem-solving and communicating effectively – separated me from the day to day programmers.

How I Got My Current Job

After about 2 years of programming, I began to deviate from my computer science background and started to take management and executive positions that utilized the soft skills of my history degree. My ability to problem solve, reason and draft an argument are valuable skills that I drew upon from my history that allowed me to move through my career.

Skills I learned as a History Major


The History major is really good at teaching the prerequisite and applicable soft skills you need to get ahead in your career. Research skills, problem-solving, inferring, written communication, oral presentations, organization and time management are all soft skills the history major teaches you that are valuable in business.

Advice to Students on Resume-writing and Cover Letters


When writing your résumé and cover letter, don’t apologize for your lack of experience. Emphasize what experience you do have – your education, life experiences and skillset – not what you don’t. With your cover letter, make it personal. Give an example of your soft skills in the work you have done in school. What are you proud of that you accomplished? List those things. Then think of those same skills and how they would be valuable to the employer and to the needs of the job. Also, research the company culture and demonstrate that you know something about them.

Entering the Workforce


We hire dozens of college graduates each semester and we try to hire from a variety of backgrounds. In finance, the workforce has to be built from the bottom up, so there are many different roles you can start out in, like customer service, call centers or operations units. An undergraduate history degree is enough experience to get into your entry-level job in the finance sector. The intricacies of more advanced jobs can be taught as you go, but your soft skills are hard to teach when you’ve already graduated. If you choose, companies often have programs which can allow you to continue your education while you work and will help you pay for it.

Rick Schlesinger


Rick SchlesingerRick Schlesinger graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in History and Political Science in 1983 and received his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.  He is the President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers.

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My Work Life

How I Got My Current Job

Skills I learned as a History Major

Law School and Internships

Advice on Jobs

Gary Filipp


Gary Fillip

Gary Filipp graduated from UW in 2014 with a double major in History and Economics. He now works as the Head of Growth for Zencity.

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First Job after College

Gary’s first internship was in 2013, where he worked at Kohl’s as a Merchandise Analyst. He specifically worked in the men’s furnishing department, analyzing retail data and comparing competitor trends. His first job was working for Huron Consulting Group, a Chicago-based management and consulting company. He developed marketing strategies for new product lines and growth plans at a Midwest-based medical center.

How I Got My Current Job

Consulting is a hyper-competitive field, with hundreds of people applying for a given job at any time. The three steps that are most important are getting on the firm’s radar, getting selected for the interview, and doing well in the interview itself. In order to build connections within the field, Gary used sites such as LinkedIn and Badger Bridge to reach out to potential employers and members of the consulting companies he was interested in working for. In addition, he practiced the interview process various times in mock interviews for about a year before sitting down with the hiring team.

Thinking About Grad School

While he did consider returning to school to earn an MBA, Gary eventually decided that his personal career path would be more greatly enhanced by going directly to work. From his perspective, the benefits of going directly into the industry, gaining experience, and working outweighed those of potentially earning an MBA. Gaining an MBA is usually more useful for people seeking to change fields entirely or break into a field that they have limited experience in. He found that he learned more about the consulting industry by going straight into the workforce than he would have in a classroom environment, which proved very helpful in advancing his career.

Skills I learned as a History Major

Reading, writing, and communication skills. These types of soft skills and high-order mental processes are generally more difficult to hone and take longer to develop. While Gary did run into biases, especially in situations like career fairs, he found that the skills he developed with a Liberal Arts degree served me more than the technical skills he learned in other areas.

William Marx


William MarxWill Marx graduated from UW in 2011 with a B.A. in History and Classics.  He is the owner of Wm Chocolates.

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First Job after College

I liked history and the significance that it brought to the world so much that when college ended, I decided to pursue a teaching career in high-school social studies. When the day-to-day work of teaching didn’t match [what] I’d enjoyed in college, I decided to change course again. Naturally, I started an online music business while working as a dental assistant to pay the bills. Naturally, that didn’t work out. Next I took a job testing software at Epic.

Skills I learned as a History Major

I started college at the University of Minnesota, intending to study biochemistry. I transferred back home to UW, where it only took one survey of American history course to convince me of the discipline’s value. In short, history made the world a more meaningful place, and I knew right away that I was happier when the world had more meaning.

Advice for Students

Until you’ve discovered what makes your life meaningful, it’s incredibly hard to visualize the path you want. So give yourself some time and space to iterate toward what’s most meaningful to you.