Entrepreneurialism

Chris Guillebeau’s book was an interesting read. I wouldn’t normally choose a book about business, but I feel that this particular book took a very friendly tone to the subject matter. The subject matter and trying to inject “business” into the humanities can be a tricky transition, however. On one hand, many people don’t readily recognize the importance of our particular skill sets and they have a tendency to devalue them. On the other hand, I think that many historians (myself included) undervalue ourselves and seem to be unwilling to “market” our knowledge. I know some people who argue that it’s wrong to charge someone to learn more about themselves and their history, personal or collective. Skills that become second nature to historians are highly sought after in a variety of fields, the issue becomes learning the appropriate buzz words to market. Previously, I was hired to format, footnote/annotate a manuscript and create the appropriate Chicago-style citations for each source. It’s not something that was geared specifically towards historians, but it utilized the skills I had gained during my historical training.

Where Guillebeau’s book provided the overview of self-promotion, the article from the AHA provided a good roadmap of how historians can better market themselves outside of the traditional path of academia. Many of the potential careers are ones we have discussed in class already, but I appreciated the way that article expanded on each of the potential roles to describe what jobs in those industries might look like. Putman’s article provided an interesting, real world example of someone “doing” history. I particularly appreciated this comment, “If history is going to survive in a world increasingly unsympathetic to thought for thought’s sake, we need practical historians who aren’t ashamed of their pastimes. Those hobbies might be more relevant than you think.” One of my “hobbies” has become a source of employment. The expertise I developed for fun has become a marketable skill set.

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