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Friday, September 30, 2005

Careers in history

Careers in history are hard to come by. Anyone who wants to work in museums, auction houses, schools or universities faces very tough competition. Why? I suppose because everyone loves history. I did a PhD in history and when I realised that very few PhDs ever have academic careers I was absolutely devastated. I have since discovered that many students who train to be lawyers and teachers also fail to find jobs in their chosen areas. It's a tough world out there.

When you're trying to enter a profession with such a low success rate it takes a lot of courage to imagine that you will be one of the people who get through. It's far easier to believe that you will fail. In reality it's not what you do as a student, it's how you behave when you're qualified. If you want to work in a competitive area like museums or universities it's best to take it for granted that it will probably take you a long time to get the job you want. You should also bear in mind that it may never happen. However, don't let that put you off once you have started down that path. You must remember that it's a common problem in careers as diverse as journalism and medicine. Basically if you leave off following history after having trained as a teacher or academic or museum curator, you will still face the same problems in many second choice careers.

Everyone reaches a point where they have to stop following the dream. You can't wait for that job forever because you need to pay the mortgage and support your family. Don't feel too hard done by even if you've given it your best shot. Very few people have their dream job. When that day comes just think that historians are luckier than most. We do not need to be paid for what we do.


Blogger marissa said...

Thanks for this post. I recently graduated college as a history major with a secondary education minor and am have a really tough time finding a job. Thanks for a little pep talk as I search the job postings every day.

8:37 am  
Blogger Mapo said...

It'll happen eventually. If you have to work in a supermarket for a little while just remember that most people do when they start out.

8:41 am  

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