Erik Jensen receives Career Services award

Career Development for History Majors

Erik Jensen, Associate Professor of History, was the recipient of the Excellence in Career Development Award through Miami University Student Affairs, a timely affirmation of his boundless enthusiasm for promoting career development opportunities for history majors. Here, he describes his endeavors through Humanities Works as part of his mission to identify innovative and fulfilling career paths for students with majors in History:Erik Jensen

Humanities Works has been spearheaded by Tim Melley and Heather Christman (in the Career Services Office) as an initiative to bring together representatives from the humanities departments to talk about how we can integrate career planning into the advising that we provide our students. We've done a lot of brainstorming; some collaborative planning; some researching of the types of skills that we're providing our majors that are demanded by employers; and a fair amount of meeting with representatives from the public and private sector. On that last point, the members of Humanities Works took a field trip to Cincinnati on October 23 to meet with representatives from start-up companies, from arts organizations, and from the Chamber of Commerce about what they're looking for in employees.

The biggest thing that our history majors can do is to start thinking about their life after graduation and about what their goals and aspirations are. I think that a lot of our majors don't give it much thought until their senior years and then think, "What am I going to do after I graduate? What do I even want to do after I graduate?" The sooner that they can answer that last question, the sooner they can start preparing themselves for that goal, by visiting the Career Services Office and by talking to people in that field about internships, opportunities, and skills. And we're simply talking here about after graduation, not "the rest of my life." Students' goals and ambitions will change and evolve over their lifetimes, so thinking about an immediate post-graduation plan is great, and it's enough.

I've cultivated some great relationships with history alumni, who have been incredibly generous with their time, people such as Chris Hines, Kate Ely, Brooke Hathaway, and Kyle Molidor. They've participated in a number of Career Nights for our majors and minors, as have current undergraduates, who participated most recently in an internship panel in October. I've also really enjoyed working with the Career Services Office, which has fantastically helpful people on their staff who are very supportive of the humanities. As the Career Services Office continually reminds students, its services are not just for students in the Farmer School of Business. Finally, the history department itself has been very supportive of career initiatives, including integrating the "Basic Interviewing Skills" workshop into our required HST 206 class. Because all of our majors are now taking this workshop in the course of fulfilling requirements for the major, they are eligible to take advantage of a whole range of support services, from mock interviews (that are videotaped for evaluation) to on-campus interviews by employers. Plus, it plants the seed early in our students' journey toward graduation. We've also put together a great career brochure, which is on our department website, along with a cool video clip of Chris Hines, who explains how history has helped him to begin his career at Randstad International.

Advising is about helping students to figure out what they want to get out of their education and what they hope to do after Miami, and I feel as though all students gradually come to a better understanding of these things in their course of talking about it. I especially like the stories that students share about being allowed by their parents (or themselves) to major in history because it's truly their passion, and because they know that there are jobs out there for people who follow their passions. ... and who gain skills such as writing, researching, concise summarizing, critical thinking, and attention to detail, all of which a history major fosters.