I’m leaving academia to go design puppy exhibits…

Regardless of the realities of the job market for historians in academia, I know that I’m stubborn. I want to get a PhD, I want to teach at the college level, I want to research, and I want to write. But I can definitely appreciate the wealth of “back-up plans” that are available when the inevitable happens and I don’t get the job that I want.

I’m intrigued by the idea of exhibit design. A hundred years ago, I wanted to go to art school, and the idea of combining multiple personal passions into a job is… while still seemingly unrealistic… a tempting one. The folks at West Office have put together some really cool looking spaces.

A puppy exhibit? Sold.
I did not know there was a National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame. As much as the idea of such a thing makes me gag, the design is pretty cool.

I’ve learned in the last year that I have absolutely no idea what I’m good at, and what I’m suited to do for the rest of my life. Reading about these different careers keep me hopeful that if it turns out that I totally suck at the whole academia thing, I might have a plan B,C, D… X…Y… oh  look, I’ve depressed myself again.

I just wonder how prepared history majors might be for the outside world when they realize that being a historian isn’t a black and white gig. Once you get deep into the major, as a junior and senior undergrad, it’s difficult to get a glimpse of the outside world again before you graduate. Ages ago, I had a conversation with Shiann about how history majors should be required to take a statistics class. I also wonder now if we should be required to take a business class or two, as it might better prepare those who wish to pursue careers outside of the ivory tower.

3 thoughts on “I’m leaving academia to go design puppy exhibits…”

  1. I remember that conversation well, and I still stand by that remark. I can honestly say that my biology degree has made me a better historian, because I evaluate evidence twice–once through a historical lens and again through a scientists. The secondary degree gave me a new perspective and helped me develop different ways of thinking. The unfortunate reality of adding to curriculum was summed up in the two-part article asking what businesses look for in public historians–it is often not viable to wedge more material into a degree path. More’s the pity, because there are very valuable skills in other learning paths that would benefit historians to learn.

  2. First and foremost I would like to say that if you are at the head of the puppy display committee I hope you will keep me in mind. We would be a great team! On a more serious note, always remember that we are forced to choose between options as they exist in real time. Although I recognize that this statement seems less than profound, I find it to be an important one. I know a good number of people who do not work in the field the set out for but that the degree they have helped them get there (my wife has a geology degree and works at a credit union for example).

  3. In my years of experience I can say that it all depends on what you want to do. If you want to work in the field of biology, you’ll need that biology degree. But any degree from a good school will open a variety of doors you didn’t know were there. I have a history degree but spent my life working in electronics and electronic-communications, public affairs and civil affairs. While completely unrelated to the work I was doing, the history degree helped me get and do each of these jobs.

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