Publication Date

November 13, 2017

Perspectives Section

AHA Annual Meeting, Career Paths

Through its work, the AHA has learned that popular wisdom severely underestimates the value and versatility of a history degree. As the seat of the federal government, home to a battery of museums and archives, nonprofits, colleges and universities, and K–12 schools, the District of Columbia showcases many of the career paths open to historians. At the 2018 AHA annual meeting, we are taking full advantage of the diverse local community of historians to offer a slate of professional development activities that is bigger and more varied than ever. So big, in fact, that we’ve gathered them all into one enormous space: “Professional Pathways” (Marriott Wardman Park, Marriott Room, Salon 2). The space will host nonstop programming exploring the many careers of historians and helping graduate students and early career historians successfully navigate multiple job markets. 

Participants in the Career Fair at the 2017 annual meeting in Denver. Marc Monaghan

The space will have something for everyone. Curious about teaching in independent schools or what it’s like working as an assistant professor? Want to know how to get your foot in the door as a policy analyst or in a research library? Always wondered what a historian in the federal government or a program officer at a nonprofit organization actually does for a living? Come to the AHA’s Career Fair, sponsored by the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians initiative.

Now in its fifth year, there is no better place than the Career Fair to quickly learn the landscape of historical careers and speak with dozens of successful history PhDs who have found fulfilling and interesting careers beyond the professoriate. In tandem with the Career Fair, we’ll be holding the always popular Ask an Assistant Professor, featuring early career professors offering insights about what the job looks like from the inside. (See this blog post by Jared Hardesty, who participated in the booth last year.) At the 2017 meeting in Denver, approximately three dozen advisers and well over 100 graduate students participated in the event.

Spending time in the Professional Pathways space is also a great way to learn about the range of careers open to historians and to hone the skills needed to pursue them. In addition to the Career Fair, Professional Pathways will feature sessions focused on historians in think tanks, in public history jobs, and in independent schools.

Participants in the Career Fair at the 2017 annual meeting in Denver. Marc Monaghan

To help you move from interest to employment, we’ve loaded the Professional Pathways space with events designed to help you develop the skills that will get you there. Get the inside scoop on the federal hiring process from a federal hiring manager at Federal Jobs Revealed, learn how to develop a professional profile on LinkedIn, pick up tips on nonacademic job searches, and discover the skills in demand at tomorrow’s public history jobs. PhD candidates will have several opportunities to explore ImaginePhD, a new tool that helps graduate students discover careers that match their skills and interests. Finally, publishers and editors will share advice on turning your research into peer-reviewed scholarship. The annual meeting is also home to numerous panels and sessions devoted to the craft of teaching and disciplinary scholarship on teaching and learning.

The Professional Pathways space is an outgrowth of the AHA’s ongoing commitment to career diversity, working to better prepare graduate students and early career historians to succeed in a variety of careers within and beyond the academy. For a full guide to Professional Development and Career Diversity opportunities at AHA18, check out our web guide.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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