In defense of a History degree

I’ve been a “business professional” my entire career. I’ve worked in market research, retail and corporate training and management, and communications in a variety of environments.

One of the questions I’m most often asked during employment interviews or even just around the water cooler is about my undergraduate degree.

I graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in History and a minor in Religious Studies. When I initially enrolled, I was a creative writing major and then changed to history after realizing that I was gravitating towards those classes rather than those in the English department.

Most of my colleagues, coworkers, and peers have business degrees of some variety or another, others have marketing degrees, several are engineers.

I stick out like a sore thumb.

The fact of the matter is, however, that my academic background has provided me with invaluable experience and skills that have formed the foundation of every success and ability I’ve developed as a business professional.

Committing yourself to the study of history and religious studies is not for the faint of heart.

These disciplines require critical thinking, research and analytical skills, and the ability to comprehend wildly divergent cultural and political beliefs systems.

Once the research is complete, you’re required to condense all that information into a coherent and sound analysis. Tailoring the papers and articles to appropriate and varied audiences require advanced writing and communications skills.

As a history major I was required to conduct peer reviews, provide group presentations, lead teams of researchers, collaborate on large projects with strict deadlines while adhering to detailed style guides.

It’s often taken for granted or overlooked but studying history combines the most essential professional skills into one massive and fascinating undertaking.

Success in a global business community requires quick thinking, intellectual agility, cultural awareness, communications skills, and the ability to condense and deliver massive amounts of information in an efficient and effective manner.

There may be no better foundation from which to develop these skills than tackling a degree in History.