A history degree is one of the most popular degrees across all universities. At York there are over 300 students in my year! History is so popular for many reasons. Quite often it is because it is such an interesting subject which people get so passionate about and enjoyed so much at a school that they just want to continue learning. However, lots of students choose history as they are undecided on what they want to do as a career. To be honest I fell into the category where both of these reasons were true. One of the major benefits of choosing to study history is that it keeps lots of options open for future careers. You’ve probably been told several times that ‘the world is your oyster with a history degree’. Well, to be honest, they’re not too far from the truth. In this blog I thought I’d try to show how you have lots of opportunities with a history degree and in particular how York tries to tackle the future for students.
It can be quite daunting to think about careers when you’re at uni, but it is worth putting in the groundwork to help you later. History students can go into a varied range of jobs such as: teaching, journalism, law, finance, civil service, television, acting (and the list goes on). As there are so many options, we have lots of support at York to help. The university has a Careers department who provide advice and guidance on matters such as CV’s, applications and interviews. As we’re such a large department, we also have an assigned careers co-ordinator. Finally, within the Department of History itself, there is an academic who provides information on careers to students.
The university also has a Careers Gateway where opportunities for voluntary work and internships are displayed. I used this service to help find a volunteering opportunity with the Rowntree society. This organisation is based around the Rowntree confectionery company in York and the work I do for them is research-based. In fact, this weekend I am giving a talk to local citizens on the history of the company. This placement was perfect for me as it gave me an opportunity to apply my history skills in a practical way. Furthermore, any hours of work are flexible and you will find this for the majority of all work and voluntary placements. They understand that you are primarily students and time is off the essence.
As well as careers, many history students go into further study, i.e. a masters degree and then in some cases, a PhD. This is something which I am considering. York is a great place to be if this may be an option for you as well. The University is part of the White Rose scholarship. This involves Sheffield, Leeds and of course York. This programme provides funding for further study options at all three of these institutions.
York also offers a range of masters courses, from medieval to modern. However, a course which is highly decorated at York is the MA in Public History. This is a taught degree like the other courses, but this course differs in the fact that you complete a placement in a local museum, society or heritage organisation (an example being the Rowntree society). This course allows students to connect with the public and see how history is taught to people outside the academic world.
So… everything I’ve just told you will probably sounds really scary? The truth is that in first year you don’t have to worry about these issues massively, I just thought I’d let you know where I am and what I’m thinking about in my second year.
To calm you all down again, I thought I’d talk about a fun opportunity that can arise from your time at York – travel. The University has great links with foreign universities which allows for study abroad opportunities. The Department of History in particular has links with universities such as Lund in Sweden.
Although people are put off by studying abroad because of language requirements, there are opportunities in North America and Australia as well. Furthermore, it is still possible to study in Europe as many exchange schemes in the Erasmus programme such as Lund, Copenhagen in Denmark and Utrecht in the Netherlands teach in English.
Studying abroad is a great attribute to have on your CV. It marks you out against others and can help secure some of those jobs I was talking about earlier!