Publication Date

November 1, 2015

Perspectives Section

AHA Annual Meeting

AHA Topic

Career Paths

For job candidates, students, and early-career historians, the AHA annual meeting can be an important first step on the way to a variety of careers in history. Annual meeting 2016 attendees can, of course, interview at the Job Center, but they can also visit the Career Fair, join sessions about career options, go to receptions to network and meet future colleagues, and much more.

For more than a decade, a staple of the AHA’s career development offerings at the annual meeting has been a workshop organized by the Professional Division. For the last two years, the workshop has been complemented by a Career Fair. This year, these career development opportunities are being expanded to provide guidance to historians at all stages and in all aspects of a multipronged career search.

A historian peruses opportunities at last year's annual meeting Career Fair in New York City. Photo by Mark Monaghan.

A historian peruses opportunities at last year’s annual meeting Career Fair in New York City. Photo by Mark Monaghan.

New at the 2016 annual meeting is a panel providing an overview of the application process at a variety of institutions that employ historians. The Many Careers of the History PhD will feature speakers from a small liberal arts college, a community college, a museum, and a public humanities program. The panel is inspired by the report of the same name, which found that only one in five history PhDs worked as tenure-track professors at Research I universities. Attendees who have specific follow-up questions on applying for jobs, or who are seeking help with CVs, résumés, cover letters, or interviewing strategies, are welcome to attend the Job Workshop for Historians, co-sponsored by the Graduate and Early Career Committee (GECC) and the Coordinating Council for Women in History. An RSVP for the workshop is requested but not required.

The Association is pleased to announce the third annual Career Fair, to be held Saturday, January 9, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Marriott’s Marquis Ballroom. Advisers representing various organizations will be available to talk with job candidates and students, providing on-the-spot informational interviews about the variety of professions open to historians. Sponsored by the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians initiative, this year’s Career Fair will be emceed by Jennifer Polk (, a historian and career coach, who will also lead several small breakout sessions over the course of the four-hour fair. Up-to-date details can be found in the meeting app and online. New this year will be a booth called Ask an Assistant Professor, staffed by a rotating cadre of junior faculty from a variety of institutions who will be available to answer questions about what being an assistant professor is really like in various settings. One assistant professor already signed up is Adam Pratt of the University of Scranton, who’s also a GECC member. He hopes that his participation will “offer some insights and strategies for coping with the job market and the demands that new faculty members will encounter in their first few years on the job.”

Interviews will still take place at the Job Center in the Marquis Ballroom and in rooms in various hotels. The annual meeting app will display the locations of all interviews being held during the meeting, if reported to AHA staff. A few schools will even accept CVs to arrange interviews on-site; CV collection will take place online this year, so have an electronic copy ready. There will be computers available for attendees’ use at the Internet Center, also in the Marquis Ballroom. Details about Job Center procedures can be found online.

Some sessions of note for those interested in exploring careers beyond the academy are What I Do: How Can I Be a Historian in This Job? and Where I Work: Historians and Our Institutions. Other events, receptions, and sessions of interest to graduate students and early-career professionals can be found in various resources and guides on the AHA’s website and by searching in the online program.

No matter your stage of graduate study or job search, the AHA annual meeting offers a unique opportunity to explore the wide variety of avenues to use history training in fascinating and fulfilling ways.

Philippa Levine is the AHA's vice president, Professional Division. Emily Swafford is the AHA's manager of academic affairs.

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