Why Study History?
Every teacher of history has heard this question at one point or another.
The answer surprises many students. For Troy Paddock, professor of history and department chair, the response is simple: "You can do anything that you want to do with a degree in history."
Studying history is not limited to those thinking of becoming a secondary school teacher, going to law school, or getting a doctorate and becoming a professor of history. Though many students seeking these careers do pursue history, opportunities for the history major abound.
People who study history are prepared to enter a variety of fields and industries that value critical thinking; the ability to conduct research; and a facility of communication, written or oral, in relaying complex ideas so that a nonspecialist can understand them. A degree in history can help anyone learn and refine these abilities.
Here are just a few examples of recent graduates who are putting their history degrees to work.
Meghan Sheridan, '17
Store Manager and Antique Online Sales and Marketing, Habitat for Humanity
"If it had not been for the faculty that taught history courses at SCSU, then it is a probable assumption that I would not have found a position at Habitat for Humanity that I love so very much. During the interview, the question, "Why study history?" was brought up. My eyes lit up as I explained all of the wonderful skills I now posses because of my history studies at SCSU. Where to even start? I explained to the interviewer that I now possess researching skills that allow me to learn much more objects because of the process I was taught on how to research. Because of my B.A. in history, I know how to ask the right questions about both products and people in order to further assist them in their dream of homeownership. I know how to write proposals and give quick speeches about my research in certain areas. The most exciting part of my position at Habitat for Humanity, though, is all of the cool, historic antiques! I am responsible for recognizing that a donation, usually dated 1960 or earlier, may be valuable, researching that donation to find who it was made by, when it was made, how it was made, how the social and political lives of the producer influenced this product, and then determining its worth. Thank you to the History Department at SCSU for helping me to attain my dream job only one week after graduation!"
Lauren Ericson, '15
Generalist Junior Appraiser and State Historic Preservation Outreach Assistant
"Studying history at Southern Connecticut State University gave me transferable skills that I had not even imagined when I first started the program. Through my course load I learned about the content that I was passionate about while also fine tuning my research and interpretation of different source materials, attention to detail, organization, and interpersonal communication. You can apply all of this experience in so many different ways, and I have pursued appraising and preservation outreach as extensions of my background in history. In documenting and appraising fine and decorative arts, I can use history content to contextualize and assess objects that I encounter, while providing a client with the information they need to make collection management decisions. Furthermore, as an outreach assistant for the State Historic Preservation Office, I use my historical knowledge and research skills as a foundation for sharing the significance of historic buildings and landscapes with local governments, architects, and homeowners. History is an extremely dynamic discipline, and the program at SCSU will help you use this to your advantage in various professions."
Patricia Kraszewska, '13
Recruiter at Griffin Hospital
"On my first day of college, after I told one of my professors that I am a history major, he responded, 'A liberal studies degree is one of the best degrees you can receive.' Today, I can say with certainty that I agree with him. Since graduating from SCSU, I have worked as a recruiter in the legal and healthcare fields. Currently, I am one of two recruiters at Griffin Hospital. Every day I screen resumes, interview candidates, and negotiate terms of employment with hiring managers and potential new employees. The communication, research and critical thinking skills I developed as a history major have been crucial to my success as a human resources professional.
"One piece of advice that I would offer to all history majors is to make sure you get a variety of different internships under your belt before you graduate. As a history major you are not tied down to one career path, but you should explore different career options before you graduate. If you are passionate about history, do not hesitate to major in it — I myself have hired history majors for a wide variety of different positions."
Ben McNamee, '12
Student Services Specialist/Academic Advisor, University of Massachusetts
"Above all else, history invites curiosity. In a world that is becoming increasingly more global, it is important to remain curious about other people, other cultures, and other ventures. I would encourage you to explore history as an option, not only as an academic pursuit, but as a way to be the best prepared for the world ahead. History prepares you for that world because it is more than memorizing facts and dates, it provides a perspective from which to view the world. It equips you with the tools to conduct research, to write and communicate effectively, and to critically analyze and draw connections. While I am not working in the 'field' of history, I use the skills and perspective I gained in my bachelor's degree every day to bring depth and breadth to whatever might come my way."
Christian Kunkel, '11
Client Solutions Manager, Marketing at Gumgum
"I always loved reading and absorbing all different kinds of stories throughout my childhood. I was able to leverage that passion as I pursued a history degree at SCSU. History paired my passion for reading and my ability to absorb information, which helped me cultivate many skills needed after graduation. Being a history major not only helped elevate my resume from the competition – it gave me the necessary tools to thrive in the corporate environment. I currently work in the marketing department at an advertising platform that specializes in image recognition technology. It's my job to partner with the sales team to generate advertising partnerships with major national and international brands. My team and I lead the ideation process, which eventually leads to the creation of a marketing strategy, visual collateral and custom pricing packages. I attend client meetings and communicate these ideas directly to the client. As a marketer, the ability to analyze data and communicate it clearly to advertisers is paramount when securing a major partnership. My time in the History Department helped me create and strengthen my communication, analyzing and presentation abilities. The skills I learned while studying history have made a significant impact in my career."