Tuesday, May 13, 2014

So What CAN You Do With a History Major?: Part 46

Work as web content writer for an industrial-level kitchen supply chain.

Robert "Buddy" Hocutt will be graduating from Messiah College on Saturday with a B.A. in History.  Next month he will start working full-time as a web content specialist.  I caught up with Buddy and asked him a few questions about the connection between his undergraduate study of history and his new job.  Here is the interview:

JF:  Let's go back four years.  Why did you decide to major in history?

RH: I chose to major in history because it was my favorite subject in high school. I took a lot of flak for it because "I'd never get a job," or "I could only teach," but those things didn't really matter to me. I loved history (and still love history) so my thought process was "I've got four years to worry about a job. In the meantime, at least I'll love class and enjoy learning."

JF:  You are graduating with a history major in less than a week.  If you had to do it again, would you still major in history?  If so, why?

RH: I would absolutely major in history again. I'll be the first to admit that my college freshman idea of history was terribly naive and short-sighted - I looked at history as interesting facts and dates and stories. I never gave any thought to history's usefulness in the professional world. Now that I've gone through the job hunting process, I realize just how pertinent history is to professional life.

JF: You just landed a full-time job with benefits and a 401K.  Congratulations.  That is becoming increasingly rare in our economy to day.  Tell us about your new job.

RH: I just took a job with The Webstaurant Store in Lititz, PA, a subsidiary of Clark Associates. The company sells kitchen supplies of all sorts, focusing on industrial-level equipment. What sets The Webstaurant Store apart, however, is that they test all of the equipment brands they sell in-house and write their own reviews, descriptions, and ratings. That's where I come in. I took a job as web content writer with the company so it is my responsibility to write reviews of equipment, product descriptions, blog posts, and other online media.

.     JF: How did your history major help you land this job?  Describe the process.

RH: History was most helpful in landing this job. From the very beginning I had to put my research skills to use just to find the job (typing "history jobs" in a Google search isn't exactly effective). History really came into play during the interview process, however. In each of my three interviews with the company, one of the first questions I was asked was "How does a history major apply to this job?" I told my employer that history is not just names and dates. Rather, history is the art of connecting with people on an intimate level, whether that be through a 300 year-old journal entry, or a personal letter, or something else. Historians take small samples of information and use it to connect to people on a deep level and tell a story. That's basically what I would be doing in this job. I have to sit in on a product demonstration (small sample of information), for example, and use that information to tell the product's story and connect with a consumer on some level so they hopefully decide to purchase that product. Fits like a glove. Beyond that, I was able to sell my employer on the analytical thinking skills that come with studying history, as well as research prowess, public presentation skills, and writing ability that is absolutely on par with, if not better than, that of English or communication majors (score one for history because they were looking specifically for English majors!).

JF: Any advice for history majors or prospective students out there who are considering this major?

RH: Take a second to step back and look at history on the whole. History is more than names and dates and events. History truly is all about connecting with people (both dead and alive). Invest your time in the parts of history that transfer to the professional world beyond academia - research, analysis, critical thinking, and most of all WRITING! Use every opportunity to practice writing because it is the one thing that employers look for the most and sadly I believe it is a dying art.

Thanks, Buddy!  Check out our entire "So What CAN You Do With a History Major" here.