History grads tell Wright State students that multiple career paths await them

Wright State history grads talked about their careers at the History Alumni Career Panel and Program held Nov. 14 in the Millett Hall Atrium. (Photo by Erin Pence)

Wright State University students interested in history as a profession got a peek into their futures when history grads shared their career stories as part of a uniquely crafted event at the College of Liberal Arts.

History majors — as well as few students from business and music — attended the History Alumni Career Panel and Program held Nov. 14 in the Millett Hall Atrium.

A similar well-attended event was held last month for the School of Public and International Affairs. Several more such events are planned for later in the school year.

“We’re creating these field/major-specific career events that are a combination of panelists that are alumni, recruiters and employers and put them in an intimate, substantive kind of environment versus a career fair,” said Wayne Stark, director of workforce development for the College of Liberal Arts’ Center for Liberal Arts Student Success (CLASS). “There is a chance for students to ask questions, a great time for alumni to learn from each other and a great way to partner with faculty.”

The history panelists included Linda Collins, collections manager at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce; Dawne Dewey, head of Special Collections and Archives at Wright State; Michael T. Edwards, an attorney in private practice; Natalie Fritz, curator at the Clark County Historical Society Library and Archives; Robin Heise, manager and archivist at the Greene County Records Center and Archives; David Manges, collections manager at the Garst Museum in Greenville; and William McIntire, information services librarian at the Dayton Metro Library.

The panelists told the students there are a multitude of job opportunities for history majors but that getting advanced degrees in public history would make them even more employable.

The students were told that the most pleasurable things about history-related jobs are working with artifacts, rubbing elbows with celebrities and scholars from around the world, helping researchers find what they are looking for and telling the stories of important people who have long since died.

Manges recounted the time a 94-year-old man brought into the Garst Museum the Civil War uniform of his grandfather, in pristine condition. But the man’s young grandson confessed that he had worn the uniform for Halloween.

McIntire told the students he gets tremendous satisfaction out of bringing history to life for young schoolchildren such as showing them a newspaper spattered with mud from the 1913 Flood.

Students peppered the panelists with questions such as what were their biggest challenges, what were the rewards for working for small organizations and if there were any salary issues.

The students were told that drawbacks can include dealing with restricted budgets, lack of support staff, inadequate facilities and office politics.

The event concluded with a networking session between the students and panelists.

“This kind of event can get history majors excited about their major and perhaps convince other students to major in history,” said Stark, thanking the outstanding history faculty for their support. “There is a tremendous amount of career opportunity.”

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