Students make most of the past

By Jake Miller

History students’ interests are as diverse as the history they study, and what career path they choose determines whether a strong grade point average or internship experience is more important.

With an education that provides students the knowledge to succeed in a wide range of careers, history graduates can be found in many realms of the work force.

Where are you going?

One of the most common career choices for history majors is teaching at both the elementary and secondary levels.

“I plan on teaching. I want to teach high school history and social sciences,” sophomore history major Brad Staples said. “I’ve wanted to be a teacher for a long time and history has always been a subject that I enjoy.”

Along with teaching, many students go on to graduate or law school after receiving their bachelor’s degree. History provides a strong backbone for future law students.

“History is a popular and useful major for students going into law,” said Taylor Atkins, associate professor of history. “We actually have a faculty member that is a lawyer who is available to our students for law advising.”

For future law students, a strong grade point average often is one of the most important aspects of their application to prospective schools. Internships such as paralegal work also can be beneficial for a hopeful law student.

A major fact

NIU’s history department offers both a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree.

The B.A. requires a foreign language requirement in order to complete the degree and is very useful for students who plan to go on to graduate or professional school.

The B.S. gives students the opportunity to minor in many areas, with many students deciding to major in economics, or other business-related subjects, Atkins said.

Besides traditional jobs for history majors, many students travel outside common career choices to pursue jobs in fields such as journalism, business and government work.

“As of right now I am not really sure what I want to do exactly,” sophomore history major Brandon Garner said. “I’m really interested in working for the government though.”

Getting out there

Dan Klefstad is an NIU alumnus who graduated with a degree in history and went on to be the morning host of the radio show Morning Edition on Northern Public Radio’s WNIJ.

Positions at museums and historical organizations also are very popular jobs among history graduates.

“Another growing option is public history,” Atkins said. “It is anything that distributes history knowledge to the public.”

For students choosing careers other than teaching and law, internships are an important aspect of their undergraduate career.

“We’ve had students that have interned at the Field Museum and the Chicago Historical Society,” Atkins said. “They both tend to be very popular among our students.”