I am very keen to read History at university. But I am not confident it will have any career prospects. Can you help ?
While the clamour for STEM subjects seem to dominate parents ambitions the usefulness of liberal arts majors should not be discounted. History along with its peers – philosophy, political science, economics – help a person think critically, be more incisive and well rounded. History graduates tend to possess a wide range of transferable skill and have the ability to understand and analyze data and events, contextualize complex arguments and view problems, old and new, thru a different prism.
A plethora of history graduates have been successful because of their ability to think outside the box and use the lessons of the past to help solve problems of the present and shape the future. Quite a few graduates move on to do a second degree with law being a favourite wherein their analytical and critical reasoning skills are highly valued. History majors do not merely memorize past events and dates they try and understand and decipher the patterns, the causes and effects, of human behavior and the effect it will have on present and future generations.
History graduates have a talent for clear expression, both oral and written and put forward ideas and arguments in a concise manner. The subject requires them to base their arguments and conclusions on research and investigation. Students of the subject also tend to be more culturally aware.
The skills gained in college will prepare graduates well for numerous careers, – Politics, publishing, journalism, media and writing in all its forms are suitable, alongside business and commerce, public sector administration and the charity and voluntary sectors.
World leaders from Woodrow Wilson (also president of the American Historical Association, 1924), Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Winston Churchill, Gordon Brown, Prince Charles were all students of history. So were Machiavelli Machiavelli, Ayn Rand, Michael Palin, TE Lawrence and Salman Rushdie. Though Rusdhie was an exception to be the only history graduate to have a “fatwa” on his life.
The influence of this subject extends beyond politics and it is quite remarkable that Chief Executives of world’s leading companies like American Express, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Sony, Hewlett Packard and Morgan Stanley have all read history in University. It is indeed a testimony to the subject that 90% of history gradates acknowledge that reading history was instrumental in their success.
In summary you may not agree with the 18th-century politician Edward Gibbon’s assertion that history is “little more than the register of crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind”, there’s no doubt a reading and history can be a stepping stone to many powerful and lucrative careers.
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