A student's work in history courses should introduce them to the events and interpretations of human history -- but the student can also learn about the profession of history, how to become a part of it, and how to represent the skills and knowledge gathered in history classes to potential employers or educational institutions. Becoming professionalizedmeans developing the skills, resources, and repertoire that will help you in your life and career after completing an undergraduate degree.
UW-La Crosse's Career Services Center
Use the resources available to you through UW La Crosse's Career Services Office, but also remember to make the most of faculty, alumni, family, and friend networks.
As early as your sophomore or junior year, attend internships & job search workshops. Learn how to research companies, promote your skills and experience, and identify the hidden job market. The Career Services Office offers several workshops throughout each semester to help students. To view an updated list of workshops, please visit theCareer Services website. Topics may include:
- Internship & Job Search Strategies
- Résumé and Curriculum Vitae Writing
- Cover Letter Writing (this can serve as a trial run for a Statement of Purpose, a piece of writing often required for graduate school applications)
- Interviewing Techniques
- Graduate School Resources
Attend career fairs and other events. Several career fairs and other events are offered throughout the year to help students and alumni research employers and internship & job opportunities. Check the Career Services website to see what events are scheduled for this semester.
During your sophomore, junior or senior year, register with Career Services to take full advantage of internships & job search services, including on-campus interviews and the candidate referral program.
Also participate in on-campus recruiting. Business, industry and government organizations recruit during the fall and spring semesters. School districts recruit primarily during the spring semester.
Prepare a résumé. Visit the Career Services website for details on creating a résumé and sample resumes. A résumé is a summary of your educational background, employment, internship, student teaching, volunteer experience, and special skills. It should communicate the potential you have to contribute successfully in a new work setting. As you prepare your résumé, think about the impact it has upon the employer. If it is well done, it can communicate your competence and your interest in the position. Conversely, if it is disorganized or has mistakes, it can communicate a lack of willingness to do a job well. Suggestions are given for headings on your résumé as well as tips to market your skills and accomplishments.
Here are several other Job Search Strategies:
- Internship opportunities (See Handshake)
- Job Search Websites – including classified ads, government websites and general job search sites
- Company Websites: Contact agencies, companies or organizations you would like to work for and see if they're hiring
- Talk to your faculty advisor or other instructors
- Talk with family and friends about job possibilities in their organizations
- Talk to classmates--especially those who are older and may have had experience in the job market or at an internship
- Consider volunteering as a way to explore your career options . . . visit the Involvement Center for more information
- Contact employment/temporary placement agencies – they are sometimes placing for permanent employment
PREPARING A CURRICULUM VITAE
If you are going on to grad school, are freelancing, consulting, or working in the area of education or public history, consider preparing a c.v. or curriculum vitae. Here, emphasis is on your academic career and educational achievements, your talents, skills, and other aspects of your life. Candidates most often use a vitae when promoting oneself within professional and academic fields; when applying to graduate or professional programs; and/or employment with international firms. The vitae is most appropriate for candidates that have completed a Masters Degree or a Doctoral Degree.
How does a c.v. differ from a résumé? Curricula vitae and résumés both have similar purposes—as marketing documents that provide key information about your talents, experiences, education, and personal qualities that show you as the ideal candidate. Where résumés tend toward brevity and highlighting marketable skills, vitae lean toward completeness. The 1 to 2-page résumé summarizes educational preparation and experience relevant to one’s career objective. Unlike résumés, curricula vitae can be up to ten pages in length. The average curriculum vitae is two to four pages for a young professional, and six to ten pages for a veteran. The content determines the length of the c.v.
NEVER make a reference to your family, marital status, religion, age, race, or ethnicity. You may of course reveal these in the course of the interview, if they are pertinent to your capacity to perform. However, avoid including statements in any professional documents like "proud father of Billy and Mary, happy husband of Jackie." These statements are not considered appropriate professional behavior. It is in fact, illegal, for people to ask you during your job or graduate school interview about your personal life, marital status, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, disability, etc. Please refer to the AHA's onlineStatement on Standards of Professional Conduct, available from the AHA website, and make sure you report any irregularities to your advisor for subsequent follow up.
Instead, use the curriculum vitae or c.v. to present your evolution as an individual of unique talent and expertise. Here is a basic outline:
FULL, FORMAL NAME: centered, all caps.
Contact Information: Name, phone, cell, e-mail. Make sure that these look and sound professional, and that the message on your answering machine is appropriate.
Education: Degree, institution, major, minor, date of expected graduation. High School (specify type of diploma, college or AP track, class rank, if available).
Additional Training and Licensing: Study abroad, summer enrichment programs, research programs, internships, workshops, conferences attended (but did not present at), special skills obtained, etc.
Languages: Native speaker of X, fluent in Y, elementary reading ability in Z. And yes, American Sign Language and Braille do count!
Employment history: Give your employer's name, your title or role, dates of employment, and briefly describe duties.
Recognitions, Distinctions, Awards, Fellowships, Scholarships: Give full name, date, amount of award if cash prize.
Publications: Full bibliographic citation, in Chicago Manual of Style. If you prepared an Undergraduate Research Project poster or paper, prepared a senior thesis, wrote a column for the paper, published an article in a literary journal, in a newsletter, in theBulletin of Undergraduate Research, in the Honors Program publication. If it has not yet appeared, but has been accepted for publication or is forthcoming, say so. At bare minimum, list the title of the paper that you complete in your capstone course (HIS 490) and/or honors thesis. If you presented a National History Day project, by all means, list it here!
Presentations: Give title of presentation, place, date.
Membership in professional organizations or honor societies, including Phi Alpha Theta: List your title, dates of involvement, projects completed.
Additional Service activities: List your title, dates of involvement, projects completed, briefly describe what this organization does.
List of references: Name, full title, address, phone/cell, e-mail. Remember to remind these people that someone may contact them about you.
Have your faculty advisor proofread this for you, and ask for their advice.
Why do an internship?
What was your last summer job? In today's highly competitive job market, an internship (paid or unpaid) or volunteer work will get you ahead of the herd. Why work at a just a summer job when you can be building up your résumé? An internship will allow you a peek into what you may (or may not) look forward to upon graduation. The internship will help you decide what kind of historian you want to be--or not--and will you make up your mind about whether you should apply for graduate school. You may be happy as a teacher. You may hate museum work. You may find out that your true passion is public history. An internship will help you decide.
If you are ambitious and driven, think EARLY about this. Your sophomore summer year is best spent interning in Washington, D.C., Madison, Chicago, or the Twin Cities--not back home with your High School buddies or arranging a display table at the Mall. You will develop real-life skills. During the day, you experience the hustle and bustle of your career, help staff prepare for meetings, redo their websites, do research and filing (and yes, you will do grunt work), but if you impress your supervisor or mentor with your work, you can count on a great letter of recommendation. Your internship experience may open doors to further professional development. It may bag you your first job. Or, it may help you realize that your talents are best put to work elsewhere.
Make the most of your internship. At night and on weekends, you can socialize with other interns, or check out the cultural sites of interest. Travel--learn who you really are. You will meet other ambitious, driven people like yourself; you will begin to build up the network of friends and contacts needed to succeed professionally. Get an internship! Learn how to put together a museum exhibit, help on a community heritage project, learn the ins and outs of grant-writing, design a tour, learn how to interpret a historical site for visitors, tutor, teach, translate, edit copy ... there are many possibilities. UWL History Department students have recently interned at:
- The Minnesota History Center
- The Milwaukee Public Museum
- The U.S. Senate
- The U.S. Park Service
- The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
- The Monroe County (WI) Historical Society
- The La Crosse County (WI) Historical Society
- Goodhue County (MN) Historical Society
- Martha’s Vineyard (MA) Historical Society
- City of La Crosse Planning Department
- Mississippi Valley Conservancy
How to find an internship: Think strategically: take a class that relates to the field in the fall or spring of your sophomore class BEFORE you apply for the internship. This way, you'll have some skills to offer, and your professor can talk up your class project in the letter of support she or he writes for you. You could also volunteer to transcribe interviews at UWL's Oral History Institute or perhaps help out at the Mississippi Valley Archeology Center, at the Murphy Library's Special Collections, or at WLSU Radio. Talk to your advisor--or explore any of the possibilities on this website.
There are a number of other ways to find a position. Take advantage of these resources!
Travel experiences avail you an unparalleled opportunity to study other cultures and history--and living and studying in a foreign country is even better! UWL, through the many programs of the Office of International Education, makes available to you exciting opportunities to see the world beyond the Bluffs. There are many different types of programs, with stays of varying lengths, that make travel and study abroad possible for practically every budget. New scholarships and stipend opportunities make it easier than before! For more information, go to the official Study Abroad website of the UWL Office of International Education.
If you need to find out whether a class you want to take abroad will transfer and count for a course taught in the History Department, please check the COURSE EQUIVALENCIES page.