During our annual meetings with those who want to study history, the candidates often ask why study history today and whether it is possible at all to find a job after graduating. Of course, we could simply shrug off such a question – after all, who would dare these days to indicate a study programme that guarantees employment after graduation. We could also attempt to answer the question, though the answer is neither easy nor obvious. Why? Because we can encounter historians in numerous professions, seemingly very distant from their field of study.
Our graduates fairly quickly find jobs, though rarely as historians. There is nothing surprising about this – such a profession does not exist. Obviously, during your studies, you can acquire certain professional qualifications that will enable you to work as a teacher of history, archivist, editor of (not only) source texts, populariser of historical knowledge. Above all, however, when you study history, you can acquire skills that make historians attractive as future employees.
We urge sceptics to look at what many employers today regard as important – not specific, so-called hard professional skills. These can be easily acquired and probably will have to be changed many times in the course of one’s life. Instead, employers want versatility and soft skills. And students of history practise these skills every day, whether they read sources on their own, defend their position during a seminar discussion or whether they gather, select and critically analyse material for their BA or MA dissertations.
Thus, it is impossible to give a single answer to the question about the prospects of history graduates. Among them we find entrepreneurs and politicians, museum staff and teachers, officials and bankers (no, it is not a mistake – there are quite a few historians checking, e.g. creditworthiness of bank customers), tourist guides, cultural operators and journalists. It is no coincidence either that, for example, civil servants or even open-source intelligence staff are recruited among history graduates. In addition, we are witnessing the emergence of new professions – e.g. information manager, broker and selector – in which skills acquired while studying history may prove crucial.