As I’m close to graduating, I’ve been doing a lot of job searching lately. But as my colleague @johnesmithiii pointed out, there are very few (basically no) full-time entry-level jobs at history institutions. Everything is either part-time or requires several years of experience. However, I still need to eat and pay rent, so I’ve had to figure out how to sell my history degree to apply for other jobs.
The primary skills I’ve been able to sell in applications are research, analysis, and report writing. These skills are valuable for a wide range of entry-level jobs. I can use my museum experience of researching and identifying unknown objects to showcase my research abilities. I can use my experience writing papers to demonstrate that I can conduct analysis and write reports. And I can use my experience as a tour guide to discuss customer service and presentation skills. However, I have found that it is much easier to tell stories from those internships and jobs in interviews demonstrating those skills than it is to tell stories of writing papers for school.
Of course, being an army officer gives me a whole other pool of experience and skills to draw from. While I was writing my resume, I was genuinely surprised at how many things I’ve done as a leader—it didn’t hit me at the time, because of how gradually the army increased my responsibilities, but I now realize I’ve actually done some pretty impressive stuff. Unfortunately, artillery skills don’t directly translate to any civilian job, so it’s taken a lot of work to explain my job in the army in a way that makes sense on a resume. However, I would find it difficult to build a solid resume for a non-history job with my history and museum experience alone, and I don’t envy the task.
What other ways could a historian sell their skills to a non-history employer?
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