The Business of Consulting

Consulting has always been high on my list of answers to the question, “What in the world are you going to do with a Master’s of History?” I like to research and I like having varied projects which require me to work with many different kids of people. However, I am only interested in working for a governmental agency or an already established business. I respect Historians.org’s assertion that, “consulting is a business…and the historical consultant should be skilled in dealing with a variety of clients, preparing realistic and fair proposals, and completing high-quality work on schedule”, yet I have zero interest in running my own business. I have a high appreciation for professionalism and client relationships, but I lack the ambition to “be my own boss.” I prefer the stability of an established company to any independence that might come from being a small business owner.

While I think museum, archives or city/state consulting would be wonderful, my dream consulting job would be as a production consultant. Who among us wouldn’t love to be a historical consultant in media? Be an advisor for our favorite BBC show or help weed out anachronisms in a Hollywood script? Sign me up!  Although it seems like those kind of consulting jobs come at the end of  a long and studied career as an expert on a specific topic. Still…a girl can dream!

My other dream job would be working for a company which develops digital tools for public history or history education. I interviewed John Lutz for my professional career assignment, but I also interviewed another digital pioneer, Mark Tebeau, creator of Curatescape. He described the long and winding journey to creating this city or state history tool (check out this Kentucky example), but he also gave me some great advice about how to break into this field. He discussed how the humanities are facing a period of crisis, where they are having to fight against STEM and Business for funding and importance (as we WELL know). However, he cautioned against seeing these disciplines as the enemy and to instead embrace them to help show history’s relevance. He noted that public historians are not going to be handed funding for projects, but must instead design their own projects that engages the local community in a new and interesting way. Use technology to serve underrepresented areas. Use networking to connect unlikely allies. Use K-12 education as a way to break into the game. As I already mentioned, I do not want to run my own business, but I would like to create something that I can then use to partner with some organization to engage the public with history.

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