Thursday, March 04, 2010

Why History?

When I tell people I’m moving to Ontario to go to school the next question is always “what will you be taking”. I’m enrolling in the History program. Why History? Well, my first indication that this might be a good study areas was that, whenever my old boss would encourage me to look into schooling, I’d get online and look at the Business courses and inevitably “just check” to see what the History department was offering. I realized after doing this a few times that that’s probably what I’m actually interested in :P

Also, last year, last May specifically, I met with a career counsellor at my local university. We talked about my current job (which was fairly new at the time) what I liked about what I did and what I didn’t. We talked about what I do in my spare time (scrapbooking, visiting museums and historic sites…and scrapbooking about them, travelling, etc.) And we talked about how I could apply what I do in my spare time, to my career choice. He gave me some great resources for career research…which I confess I never really followed up on.

So fast forward through a lot of soul searching, through a lot of talking to people, and through another summer of doing the things I like doing and when the 2010/11 university application process opened, I put my name in and “declared” History as my subject area.

Inevitably, the follow up question to “what will you be taking” is “what do you want to do with that?” Everyone assumes I’ll be teaching. Maybe there’s a reason for that. The thing is I don’t want to teach. Definitely not high school anyways and probably not university. I like the idea of “teaching” in a non-traditional setting. Like being part of educational programs at a National Historic Site or museum that focuses on my area of interest. I like to tell people that I want to be a tour guide. Now I realize you don’t need a degree for that but by going to school I feel like I can explore those types of job opportunities better.

One of my (many) reasons for moving to Ontario is because there is so much more history there than there is on the West Coast. BC just celebrated 150 years. Woohoo. Seriously, it’s not that long. Quebec celebrated 400. That’s more like it. I’m not too excited about ancient history, or even European history but I’m looking for something a bit older than the fur trade.

I look at people who are “tour guides” or who do educational programs in historic sites and think “I could do that, I want to do that”. I’d like nothing more than to be in period costume all day. Maybe not for forever, but to start at least. I’m also not eliminating the possibility of getting back into administration, but hopefully for an organization where I can be passionate about what they do and the message they have to deliver.

So when people ask “what do you want to do” there’s a list of possibilities. I also realized a little while ago that I may not even know the title of the job I want to do! I don’t want to just do what I know is available. I want to explore options, and find the perfect job for ME, whatever it may be. I’ll let you know when I figure it out :)


Shelljo said...

As one with a history degree, I say ...whoo hoo!

You can always work in a museum or a historical library, geneaology society, etc. You can do something other than "teach". Besides, just taking History classes is fun! You learn so much cool stuff...most is usless trivia, but who cares, it's just cool!

agent713 said...

Can you see me nodding my head? That's exactly the kind of places I want to work :) and yeah, I love the trivia :D

Duchess said...

Don't forget to add in enough management/financial courses to know how to develop budgets and manage the staff for a site. A grant writing course would be a good thing to add in, too.

I would have loved to be one of the cataloguers who recently processed the NYPL's collection of U.S. Sanitary Commission holdings from the American Civil War. Can you imagine having that stuff for nearly 150 years and never getting around to taking an inventory of it?!

To supplement your need to disappear into another era, find a reenactment group. They'll fuel your passion and understand when you say you'd rather spend the weekend wearing odd clothing and showing others about an earlier era than having your plumbing repaired.

Don't forget there are also jobs which incorporate your other hobbies - sewists maintain clothing collections or outfit interpreters, scrapbookers may be archivers or may learn to rebind books or reprint documents to make them available for another generation.

As long as you know going in that the pay is not high, but the rewards are great, you'll be making the right choice.