Resources for Students and Early Career Professionals

This collection of resources is intended to help students explore career options and organize on campus programming related to Career Diversity. They include personal stories and reflections from historians working in a variety of professions, resources for networking and informational interviewing, and ideas for organizing events that will be of use to officers in History Grad Student Associations (HGSAs) and other student leaders.

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Personal Narratives

Career Contacts

Since its launch in early 2015, the AHA's Career Contacts program has arranged hundreds of informational interviews between current PhD students (junior contacts) and history PhDs (senior contacts) who have built careers beyond the professoriate. Senior contacts work in a variety of fields, including academic administration, non-profit management, public policy, archives and libraries, K-12 teaching, as well as a range of positions in the federal government and private industry.

Career Paths

Career Paths is an ongoing series in the AHA newsmagazine, Perspectives on History.

Career Diversity in Perspectives

Career Diversity is an ongoing series in the AHA newsmagazine, Perspectives on History.

What I Do

What I Do: Historians Talk about Their Work is a web video series that answers some of the questions people have about where historians work and what they do.


ImaginePhD is a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences.

Event Planning

How to Run a Public Speaking Workshop for Historians (Univ. of Chicago)

This guide provides an overview of how to launch a public speaking workshop for graduate students in your department, including the basic logistics of organizing the workshop and suggested topics and resources for each session.

How to Run a History Presentation Extravaganza (Univ. of Chicago)

This guide provides an overview of how to run a History Presentation Extravaganza in your department. This event challenges graduate students to distill some aspect of their research-a seminar paper, a dissertation chapter, an analysis of a primary source-into an engaging five-minute presentation followed by four minutes of questions from the audience. A panel of judges evaluates each presentation for style, substance, and accessibility, providing feedback to each student and awarding a prize to the top three presentations.

How to Run a Dissertation Lightning Round (American Historical Association)

This how-to guide is designed to take you through the steps of setting up and running a dissertation lightning round. We see it being particularly useful in the course of a graduate-level research seminar, but it could easily be adapted for any graduate-level topical seminar.

How to Run a Career Fair (Columbia Univ.)

This guide is intended to help graduate history department administrators or career counselors think through the process of organizing and running a career fair or networking event for graduate students within your department or from several universities in one area.

Conversation Starters

These short articles introduce important concepts behind the AHA's Career Diversity for Historians initiative, giving faculty and students ideas about how to frame conversations about PhD career paths.

  1. Jim Grossman and Emily Swafford, "The Purpose-Driven PhD," Perspectives on History (April 2019)
  2. Jim Grossman, "Imagining PhD Orientation in 2022," Perspectives on History (October 2017)
  3. Jim Grossman, "To Be a Historian is to Be a Teacher," Perspectives on History (November 2015)
  4. Anthony Grafton and Jim Grossman, "No More Plan B: A Very Modest Proposal for Graduate Programs in History," Perspectives on History (October 2011)

AHA Resources

The Five Skills: Succeeding Beyond and Within the Academy

The Career Diversity Five Skills were first identified in focus groups of historians with PhDs who found careers beyond traditional academia-five things they hadn't learned in grad school but that they found they needed in order to succeed beyond the academy. These five skills are also essential to succeeding as professors.

Resources for Graduate Students

This page provides links to the most popular resources the Association has prepared or found for graduate students at every stage in their studies and for early career professionals. 

Resources for Early Career Professionals

The AHA has assembled a list of resources on the professional issues of early career historians.